Sex education should teach safety instead of abstinence

Erin Roof

Teens are going to have sex. Tie them up, drug them or beat them over the head with a Bible for hours and the little runts will still find a way. Someone needs to tell that to President Bush.

While Americans were planning to get tanked on tryptophan last week, Bush weaseled in a neo-puritanical nut job as head of the Department of Health and Human Services. This is, of course, the government body in charge of teaching the country’s youth about family planning through sex education and contraception distribution.

The problem is, Bush’s man, Eric Keroack, doesn’t believe in the use of contraception, even by married couples, and thinks abstinence is the only policy when it comes to sex education.

Keroack currently serves as medical director for A Woman’s Concern, an anti-choice counseling organization in Massachusetts. It promotes the belief that “the crass commercialization and distribution of birth control is demeaning to women, degrading of human sexuality and adverse to human health and happiness.”

Women, welcome back to the dark ages.

Keroack’s plan of telling teens that condoms are for nerds and it’s “cool” not to have sex obviously is not working. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 60 percent of high school students have engaged in sexual activity by the time they graduated. One study Texas A&M released last year showed teens actually may increase sexual activity after abstinence education. Teens are also at a high risk of getting sexually transmitted infections, making up almost half of all new cases annually, because they are more likely to have unprotected sex with more partners, the Department of Health and Human Services reports.

The kids aren’t listening. And the current game plan is putting them in danger.

Abstinence-only education is as helpful as no education at all. But teens are lucky to get even that, because the Department of Education does not require schools to provide any courses on sex education.

In Ohio, this antiquated view is starting to change. When leaders at Canton’s Timken High School realized more than one in seven female students were pregnant, they decided to take a more productive approach to sex education. New classes focused on smart sex using contraception, instead of pushing students to have no sex at all, as means to lower pregnancy rates in the school.

In appointing the new head of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Bush administration is trying to make people’s choices for them. It is saying the Christian conservatives’ narrow view of social ethics is correct for a vast and diverse nation. But different people have different beliefs.

After the midterm elections, when liberal, pro-choice candidates clinched a majority in both houses of Congress, it was easy for women to breath a sigh of relief. This appointment proves we cannot let our guard down.

If we want teenagers to have safe and healthy sex lives as adults, we must finally retire the 1980s “Just Say No To Everything” campaign and discard this one-size-fits-all morality. If we tell teens the responsible truth, they just might listen.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Like Elliott Smith, she “is in love with the world through the eyes of a girl.” Contact her at [email protected].