April 19, 2009
By Paige Drummond BRONZE, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
Paige Drummond BRONZE, Palm Beach Gardens, Florida
1 article 3 photos 0 comments

Let’s do a science experiment. First, a hypothesis must be drawn: if a person is thrown into a pool of water without prior knowledge of how to swim, then the person will drown. Correct? Let’s apply the same principle to a subject that hits a little closer to home. If that person is thrown into a pool of sexually-active teenage life, then the person will drown. This metaphor tells of a watered down version of what’s going on in Florida society today. Florida, among other states, such as Texas, California, Maryland and Missouri, are among the minority of states that take a pro stance towards abstinence-only education in the classroom.
The idea that no sex is the healthiest way of living has been reiterated and pounded into the curriculum of middle and high school students for years. But stop and wonder if this supposed ideal is one that is feasible in today’s society where studies consistently show that more than half of teenagers between 15 and19 are sexually active, with the average first-time sexual experience of teenagers being 14.9 years old, as stated by the Mathematica Policy Research. To further support this trend, as recently as March 2008, federal studies show that one in four American teenage females have one or more sexually-transmitted disease. So, is more than $100 million a year being spent in an effort to prevent something that is, in fact, unpreventable? Florida alone was allotted $10.7 million to spread the news that abstinence was good news. That’s $11.25 spent for every Florida teen, age 14 to 17.
Now that we have a hypothesis, we can conduct a series of experiments to produce a result that will either support or refute the previously stated hypothesis. After surveying scores of teenagers about their sexual activity, the July 2001 Surgeon General’s report on sexual health, put out a statement saying, “Programs that typically emphasize abstinence, but also cover condoms and other methods of contraception, have a larger body of evaluation evidence that indicates either no effect on initiation of sexual activity, or, in some cases, a delay in the initiation of sexual activity.” In other words, fear tactics, such as the use of loaded words like ‘STDs’ (Sexually Transmitted Disease,) are embedded in the abstinence-only programs used to scare those into waiting until they are married, have little or no overall effect on teens’ decision. Also, the one-sidedness of the program creates a propaganda situation where only failure rates of condoms are supplied as information. Programs are also known to exclude topics of conversation that deal with abortion and sexual orientation. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that the percentage of U.S. teens having sex has remained constant over the past couple of years. Florida, which is slightly higher in teenage sexual intercourse than that of the national average, is no exception.
In an effort to decrease this rising statistic of Floridian teen’s sexual activity, the use of virginity pledges that secure the signatures of teens saying that they will abstain from sex until it is appropriate – which in the eyes of abstinence advocates, is marriage – has become a go-to move in many states. But even this tactic does not accurately predict teen behavior.“ A study in 2004 indicated that 88 percent of students who made this alleged “virginity pledge” broke their pledges. Virginity pledgers also suffered STD infections at the same rate as non-pledgers. Senator Waxman, chairman of the House of Government Oversight Committee said, “the data demonstrates that abstinence-only programs do not protect teenager health and are a waste of American taxpayer money.”
California State Representative, Barbara Lee introduced the Family Life Education Act, (a bill that is dutifully supported by Planned Parenthood) that would provide $100 million in block grants to states to support medically accurate sex education and would include discussions of abstinence and contraception. Sadly, this bill’s likelihood of passing is very slim, considering that the federal House is heavily weighted with leaders in favor of abstinence education, and is not anticipated to move forward.
All this data shows that the funding of programs that neglect to fully educate young Americans about their own sexuality is hurting, as opposed to helping ease the transition into the peer-pressure-induced time in teenagers’ lives. Ignorance of an issue does not help deal with an issue. Batting an eyelash at these statistics or looking the other way is not the solution. A lack of knowledge towards the use of condoms and other contraceptives may lead to negative impacts on a young person’s willingness to use these contraceptives.
And as for the conclusion to this experiment, you have to wonder, in this pool, do you want to sink or swim?

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This article has 3 comments.

The Beast said...
on Mar. 22 2011 at 8:45 am
Why don't you keep your opinion to yourself and go back to preschool to learn some grammar instead of trollin on pointless issues

on Aug. 21 2009 at 8:35 am
BellaLuna1 BRONZE, Ozone Park, New York
2 articles 0 photos 93 comments
Good job. Nice article I think it's a wate of money to spend on these programs u n I r boh teens n we can see just in skool hallway this makes no difference at all people will do what they want to do especially when here hormones r raging and their bodies going differently from their mondssssss check out teens and sex by me Bella Luna :) it's got a good idea in I like this one I think.....

Mandy said...
on Aug. 14 2009 at 4:54 am

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