Birth Control vs. Abstinence - Only in Sex Education
Most people enjoy doing the right thing. With our world as screwed up as it is today, one good thing goes a long way. So people strive for the morally right. However, the line between right and wrong is often blurred and unclear. A good example of this is sex-education in schools. There are two main versions: abstinence-only, and abstinence with birth control. Most people immediately vote abstinence-only as the curriculum in sex education classes because it seems like the obvious “right” choice. However if you sit down, look at the facts, and get rid of all your fluffy ideals about right and wrong, you’ll see this might not actually be the “right” choice. Because in reality, the most productive and sensible thing to teach to our younger generations is birth control, along with abstinence.
Before tackling a subject as touchy as sex-education, it is paramount to think about how things are in real life, not how you think things should be. Teaching birth control, which includes teaching how to acquire and use things such as condoms, numerous types of birth control pills, and other contraceptive products is a curriculum that many people frown on, because they assume that it will only encourage teens to have sex more, as it makes sex less risky. However, in reality, it is just there to help the people who don’t choose abstinence. Even though many people cringe at the thought of this, it is reality. According to Paul D. Feinburg in his book Ethics for a Brave New World, 78% of young people agreed that pre-marital sex is morally right (152).
Obviously, teenagers have sex; there is no way around it. In the United States, nearly half of all teenagers aged 15-19 have had sexual intercourse at least once in their lives (Alan Guttmacher Institute, 1). If that many kids are having sex, they must be educated on how to use birth control. According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a sexually active teen that doesn’t use some form of birth control has a 90% chance of becoming pregnant in the first year (2). Contraceptives are vital in preventing pregnancy among teens.
According to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, about one in three teenagers in grades 7-12 have no knowledge of what contraceptives are available, or how to use them (2-3). This ignorance is definitely not bliss. In Florida, a state with strict abstinence only sex education programs, teenagers thought that drinking a capful of bleach would cure STD’s, and smoking pot would prevent pregnancy (ThinkProgress.com, 1). Because of their apparent lack of knowledge of contraceptives, these kids were harming their bodies. Now you might scoff and say that these teenagers were just stupid to believe that, but you do not realize how serious this is. These teens just did not know any better, because their sex education was obviously lacking. It is utterly ridiculous for teens to be subjected to relying on urban myths to deal with such serious problems because they were not taught the right way to deal with it in school.
Research has also found than in an effort to convince kids to practice abstinence, the abstinence only programs are also distorting the facts. According to a federal investigation on SPRANS (Special Programs of Regional and National Significance Community-Based Abstinence Education), the most popular federally funded curriculum for abstinence only educations, 11 out of 13 of the abstinence-only sex education classes taught distorted information. Students were taught that that condoms do not prevent the spread of STDs, and that pregnancy occurs about one out of every seven times a couple uses a condom (3). These “facts” that are being taught to kids are false.
In that same federal study on SPRANS, research showed 88% of the teenagers who pledged virginity in an abstinence only program still had sex, and were even less likely to use birth control than those who had never pledged virginity in the first place. Also it showed that in programs where both abstinence and birth control was taught, pregnancy rates and STD infections of the students were significantly less than those who had had an abstinence only education (4). Obviously, abstinence only programs are not nearly as effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases as abstinence plus birth control programs.
The morally right is not always as it seems in our world today. You must be able to separate your ideals from facts. Your ideals might include that all teenagers think sex is wrong, or that very few teenagers even have sex. However, the facts are that many teenagers do have sex, and many don’t think it is wrong. So you must settle for the most productive and sensible choice, not the one you assume is morally right. The fact is, abstinence-only programs just don’t cut it; teenagers must be taught abstinence plus birth control, that much is clear.
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