Last year, President George W. Bush increased the funding for abstinence education to $135 million, a $33 million increase from 2002.
The basis of the programs was to teach youths that abstaining from sex is the best way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases. Funny, that does not seem obvious at all. Apparently, it takes $135 million to send out that memo. This year, the administration is considering doubling the funding for abstinence education.
It is rather idealistic of the president to think that teenagers and young adults are not going to have sex. Youths experiment, and it seems that those who are experimenting get younger and younger every year. Our society is conducive to kids growing up too fast. The federal government cannot change that. There is no going back to the days of virgin brides and white picket fences.
We are a society in which mothers and daughters watch “Sex and the City” and gals seek all the guilty pleasures men offer, without an ounce of shame.
Abstinence education is falling on deaf ears. The only youths it could reach are those who abstain for religious purposes and intended on abstaining before any school nurse walks into a room and says that sex is bad until you get married. The “No sex is safe sex” program has been around since 1996, when the Welfare Reform Act granted abstinence education half a billion dollars.
Teachers at abstinence-grant schools are forbidden to answer questions about birth control and condoms.
The goal of sex education should be to give the facts straightforwardly, in all of their non-sugarcoated glory. If you have sex without a condom, you could die or live your entire life with the negative effects. Untreated chlamydia can cause infertility in women. If human papillomavirus goes untreated, it can cause genital warts and cervical cancer. Both of these diseases can go easily undetected, which continues their cycle of transmission.
Anything less than educating youth on AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases is short-changing them of a healthy, long future. It puts them at risk for a lower quality of life and early death.
“One out of every two young Americans will get a sexually transmitted disease by the time they reach 25,” according to a recent USA Today article.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, women 20 years of age and younger make up 61 percent of the new HIV cases. This means that people, some of whom are our age, are not abstaining and they are not using condoms regularly. From here, the game plan should focus on condom encouragement. It is easier to convince someone to practice safe sex than not have sex at all. If Bush wants the youth of America to grow up healthy with a quality life ahead of them, the focus of sex education should be comprehensive to include every aspect of sex, not just one, idealistic view.
Ryann Acton is a columnist for The Daily Athenaeum at West Virginia University.
This column was distributed by U-Wire.