I recently stumbled across this article which discusses the numbers regarding teen sex. What was a decade-long decline in sexuality activity by high schoolers “leveled off between 2001 and 2007” and “the increase in condom use by teens flattened out in 2003.” Research shows that teen sex may be climbing again.
The articles seems to imply several things. One of the most ambiguous implications is that, perhaps the halt in decline, and perhaps rise of teen sex, may have something to do with less teens using condoms. Now, the logical part of my mind says “Of course, if more teens are having sex that means more teens will be having sex without condoms simply because there are more teens to be having sex without condoms!” But without more detailed findings, I can’t say if this is the truth. Perhaps the author meant that the ratio of condom using teens to teens having sex overall is declining which is even worse news.
Afterall, I am a fan of condoms. They can save your life in the worst scenarios or, at least, save your livelihood. Babies and STDs can certainly put a damper on life. I saw this in jest but it is a serious matters. When teens have sex, they should use protection, absolutely. In fact, most sexually active people should use a condom and, if they did, the world would be without a whole lot of hassle.
Now, in my sexual experience which isn’t as vast as I may make it seem, I have not used a condom every time I absolutely should have. The difference between those teens who do the same and I myself? Every time I was aware of the consequences; I chose to disregard them. Teens? Not so much.
What makes condom use in teens more important is that they are often not as aware of the consequences or not as aware as they believe they are. And an increase in sexual intercourse among teens probably has to do with a decrease in sexual education.
Which brings us to the second implication of the article. The leveling off of the decrease and possible current increase in teen sex coincides with efforts by the current presidential administration to enforce abstinence only sex education. Luckily, this started toward the end of my high school education so I didn’t have to deal with its backlash.
The new figures renewed the heated debate about sex education classes that focus on abstinence until marriage, which began receiving federal funding during the period covered by the latest survey and have come under increasing criticism that they are ineffective.
Critics of the policy, like John Santelli, chairman of the Department of Population and Family Health at Columbia University, argue that abstinence only education “spends a good amount of time bashing condoms.” So should it come as any surprise that sexuality activity is on the rise while condom use decreases?
We all know how I feel about abstinence only sex education and this rant isn’t to bash it, exactly. Rather, it’s to explain why education is absolutely necessary. When we don’t educate teenagers about the consequences – physical, mental, emotional, and financial – of sexual activities, let along risky sexual behaviour, how can they make educated choices about protection? What will motivate them to use condoms?
We all know humans often are affected by a “it can’t happen to be attitude” even when they’re educated about consequences and teenagers are human (even if it doesn’t always seem to be)! So it should make sense that someone with little to no education about a subject or, even worse, incorrect or misleading education (which our classrooms have no room for!) would make even more erroneous decisions.
It’s easy to assume if you don’t know the consequences that, somehow, someway, they won’t apply to you or, even crazier, there are none. This is rarely the case with life and never the case with sexuality! The fact is, pregnancy and STIs don’t care if you’re aware or not; they’re not discriminatory when it comes to who they’ll infect. Yes, you may get lucky, maybe more than once but what happens when you don’t get lucky?
Irreversible results happen. Pregnancy and STDs. Sometimes these things will be short lived and sometimes they will stay with you for life or until they kill you. Sometimes, even if you do everything in your power to protect yourself from the consequences, it won’t be enough. So why would anyone want to leave themselves completely open to the consequences of sex? My guess? Ignorance aside, no one would.
So why would we, as a society equipped with the education and resources to help others protect themselves want to lead them to make these poor decisions? My guess? Ignorance aside, we wouldn’t.
So that’s it, isn’t it? Ignorance. Our classrooms have no room for ignorance. Our country has no room for ignorance. Our world has no room for ignorance.
Isn’t about time we doing something so that the headlines read “Teen sex declining; use of condoms on the rise?”