Teens and S-E-X
According to the Centers for Disease Control, teen pregnancy has been dropping since the early ’90s. At their last count in 2009, the teen birth rate was 39.1 per 1,000 women age 15-19. Even with the decrease, the U.S. is still way higher than other western industrialized nations. For a country that claims to be the greatest in the world, why do we have so much trouble keeping our teenagers from getting pregnant?
What are we failing to provide? Why is it our teen birth rate is higher than France, whose rate is only 7 per 1,000? Aren’t they a bunch of over-sexed heathens over there?
Could it be that their openness about sex is why their teen birth rate is so low?
I happen to think it is the exact reason. Americans do have a tendency to be more repressed about sex than our European neighbors. If you don’t believe me, just check out some European commercials on YouTube.
The Utah House has passed a bill that would require sex education classes in schools to teach an abstinence-only curriculum. Republican state Rep. Bill Wright, who sponsored the bill, stated, “We’ve been culturally watered down to think we have to teach about sex. … Why don’t we just be honest with them upfront that sex outside marriage is devastating?”
Do we really think if we tell our kids to just not have sex, that’s what will happen? I hate to break it to the Utah lawmakers, but even Mormon kids are getting it on in backseats all over Salt Lake City. Do parents not remember what it’s like to be a teenager and have hormones coursing through your body like lipids through Chris Christie’s veins? Being sexually aroused is completely natural; however, I may have killed all of that by mentioning Chris Christie.
A study published in 2005 in the Journal of Adolescent Health found that abstinence-pledged teens were more likely to engage in oral or anal sex. They also found they were less likely to use condoms once they did become sexually active. Another 2005 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of 15-19 year olds are engaging in oral sex. Sweet Jesus! That’s probably more than most married couples.
Obviously, teaching abstinence isn’t working. I think parents and schools should teach children with the view that sex is completely natural. I talked to my kids about sex. It wasn’t a big deal. It was just us talking about what to do to prevent pregnancies and STDs. Not once did I tell them, “Don’t you dare have sex” because I knew that would only spur them on to wanting to get it on like cracked-up bunnies.
The more you make something taboo and secretive to kids, the more allure it carries. Talk to them like they’re intelligent beings. Be upfront. Explain that wanting to have sex is natural. Let them decide what they want to do with their bodies. They’re going to anyway. Talk about STDs and pregnancy and how to prevent both. If they decide they want to have sex, volunteer to help them with getting protection. If you feel like you’d be endorsing something you don’t agree with, get over it.
Don’t look at it that you’re sanctioning your child to have sex. Look at it that you’re sanctioning them to be safe about the sex they’re going to have anyway. Let’s stop being so puritanical about sex and be smart about it instead.
Feel free to drop Rachel Birdsell a note at firstname.lastname@example.org