Just say no.
We’ve heard it related to drug use, and many educators take that same approach when they attempt to teach what I cringe to call “sexual education.” The fact of the matter is they hardly educate at all.
The study discussed in Wednesday’s column, “Lower teen sex rate proves abstinence works,” concluded that from 2006 to 2008 fewer young adults chose to become sexually active. However, the study did not come to a conclusion of why that is. I refuse to believe it is the result of sexual education that hinged on the “abstinence only” viewpoint.
Abstinence is a noble effort, but it is not a popular one. In a perfect world, there would be perfect relationships, some of which would include healthy sex lives. In a perfect world, there would be no sexually transmitted infections. In a perfect world, there would be no unplanned pregnancies. But nonetheless, this is nowhere close to being a perfect world.
First, the column stated that a strong correlation exists between sexually active young adults and unfaithful spouses. This makes extremely unfair generalizations. Individuals must make their own sexual choices, and these choices are going to be the best when they are well informed.
Second, encouraging teenagers or young adults to fight their hormones, to resist falling into the majority and to remain abstinent will only make an impact if they have extremely good reasons to do so. Therefore educators, such as teachers and parents, must give young people a better reason to stay sexually pure than just “because I said so.” If the reason is to avoid sexually transmitted infections, OK. If the reason is to avoid the serious consequences of having a baby at 19 years old, OK. If the reason is to help keep their sense of self-worth intact and to nurture healthy relationships without sex, OK.
But these reasons should be laid out clearly and more than once. Young adults must be told important things multiple times before we even think about listening. So one “sex ed” class in middle school is just not going to cut it. Young people should be given ample education so they can make the right choice for them 8212; not the right choice for their mom or dad and not the right choice for their teacher or preacher. The right choice should be for themselves.
When it comes down to it, they are the ones that will make the choice to become sexually active or not, and they are the ones that will receive the consequences of sex, both positive and negative. Their parents and mentors cannot make this choice for them, no matter how hard they try. The best plan of action is to make available as much accurate information as possible about abstinence, sexual activity, contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections. This way, they can make an informed choice and stick by it.
While abstinence is the only way to ensure young adults avoid negative situations, such as contracting STIs and unplanned pregnancies, it is not very common. The study referenced in Wednesday’s column stated that 27 percent of males and 29 percent of females aged 15-24 had never had sex. Let’s flip those numbers and say that a large majority of young adults, roughly 72 percent, reported ever having sex. Therefore, there should be adequate and extensive sexual education so that individuals making sexual choices, no matter what they are, can make the best and healthiest choices possible.
Katey Muldrow is a junior news-editorial journalism major from Midland.