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FIRST-PERSON: Sex education

MCMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–Parents and teens are speaking loud and clear on the subject of sex education, but is anybody listening? It seems those pushing the wagon of sexual instruction in the nation’s public schools aren’t.

A recent poll revealed that 96 percent of parents believe that sexual abstinence is the best option for teenagers. The survey conducted by Zogby International for Focus on the Family also found that a majority of parents believe schools should teach children that sexual activity should be linked to marriage and 68 percent feel the instruction should stress it is best to delay sex until marriage.

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy recently discovered that teens’ views on sex education do not differ too much from that of parents. A 2003 poll conducted for the organization found that 84 percent of teenagers believe sex should occur only in long-term committed relationships.

The teen survey also discovered that 67 percent of teens who have had sex wished they had waited. On the subject of delaying sex, 60 percent of sexually experienced boys and 77 percent of girls said they wish they had waited.

It is debatable whether or not public schools should even be involved in the sexual education of America’s children. The merits of such instruction have been argued for at least thirty years. However, at present it is a reality. As such, the long-term best interests of the students should be the only priority of any sex-ed curriculum.

The current state of sex education seeks to remain morally neutral while instructing teens on an activity with tremendous physical, emotional, and psychological consequences. The end result is sterile instruction that leaves teenagers with the impression that sexually activity has about as much impact on their lives as choosing what to eat for lunch.

I have had numerous conversations with educators who assert that it is unrealistic to expect the average teenager to abstain from sexual activity until marriage. Further, I have been told that it is not only arrogant to promote a religiously motivated morality in a public school it also violates the separation of church and state.

I readily admit the Bible teaches that sex should only be experienced within marriage, and I believe God knows best. However, I also maintain you can teach abstinence without linking the subject to Christianity or any religion for that matter.

What is wrong with telling teens there is only one way to absolutely avoid the risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease? Parents support an abstinence message and so do teens. With the recent survey results curriculum could, and should, highlight the huge percentage of teens who regret the loss of their sexual innocence. Abstinence can be presented for what it is, an attractive and common sense choice.

Instead, teens are led to believe there really is such a thing as safe sex. Educators who advocate such instruction have buried their heads in the sand when it comes to the reality of the effectiveness of condoms.

A 2001 report concluded that condom use reduced the risk of contracting HIV by 85 percent. That was the good news. The summary report issued by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, National Institutes on Health, and the Department of Health and Human Services stated that “epidemiological evidence is currently insufficient to provide an accurate assessment of the effectiveness of condoms in preventing the spread of sexually transmitted disease such as gonorrhea and syphilis.”

Put another way, there is no scientific evidence that condoms prevent the spread of STDs.

According the American Pregnancy Association, “the typical use of male condoms, which is the average way most people use them, has a failure rate of 14-15 percent.” Used “typically” condoms are effective in preventing pregnancy only 85 to 86 percent of the time.

If an airline touted that 85 percent of its flights landed safely, they would go out of business. Yet some “experts” continue to tout the absolute safety of condom usage in spite an effectiveness rate of only 85 percent. Perhaps it is time to charge some in the sex-ed community with malpractice.

Recent polls indicate an overwhelming support for abstinence education among parents and teens. Given the reality of condom effectiveness, it is clearly the only way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. As a result, America’s education establishment should be urged to abandon the current emphasis of safe sex education and adopt programs that present abstinence as an attractive common sense choice.

    About the Author

  • Kelly Boggs