>I was reading this article on Chastity Clubs on college campuses when I started thinking about abstinence education in a broader sense.
Fredell began to understand she was in “a culture that says sex is totally O.K.” When a new boyfriend came to her, expressing desire, she managed to “stick to my guns,” she said, but there were “uncouth and socially inept” men, as she considered them, all around, and observing the rituals of her new classmates, Fredell couldn’t help being alarmed. “The hookup culture is so absolutely all-encompassing,” she said. “It’s shocking! It’s everywhere!”
Harvard is not the only place where clubs like these are popping up. According to USA Today, Princeton started a chastity club in 2005. Also, there have been studies of high school students wearing chastity bracelets to show their desire to remain virgins until marriage. Groups like Pure Love promote students to remain chaste within the context of Christian values.
However, as we have all seen, abstinence education has consistently failed as an alternative to teaching young people about sex:
…Congress and the Bush administration have directed hundreds of millions of dollars toward abstinence-only education in the public middle schools and high schools — classes that have been roundly criticized for blurring the line between science and religion. A 2004 report issued by Representative Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, found that 11 of 13 abstinence curriculums that his government-reform committee examined were rife with scientific errors and false and misleading information about the risks of sexual activity. Many states are now rejecting federal financing for such classes, on evidence that they fail to limit sexual behavior or reduce teen pregnancy.
In a follow-up study to a 1995 national survey of close to 12,000 students in grades 7 through 12, two sociologists, Peter Bearman at Columbia University and Hannah Brückner at Yale, found that while those who took virginity pledges preserved their technical virginity about 18 months longer than teenagers who didn’t pledge, they were six times more likely to engage in oral sex than virgins who hadn’t taken a pledge. They were also much less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases. Disease rates between those who pledged and those who didn’t were actually similar. The authors, who published their findings in 2005, concluded that the emphasis on premarital abstinence was insufficient to fend off disease and “collides with the realities of adolescents’ and young adults’ lives.”
While I do not have a problem with chastity clubs, I do have a problem with some of the misinformation abstinence education gives to teens. Already nervous and uninformed of the consequences of unprotected sex, teens will not benefit from the misinformation abstinence education supporters are shoving down their throats. I do not believe that teens benefit from being taught one point of view about sex. If and when these teens decide to have sex, they need to be armed with information that can help prevent the spread of STD’s and pregnancy. And right now, abstinence education does not give these vunerable young people the information they need to remain safe and healthy.
How do you feel about abstinence education?