In 2006 our government gave $176 million to sex education programs that teach abstinence until marriage. Here’s what we got for that money:
In light of the current Administration’s push for cutbacks in the Adult Employment and Training program, the Job Corps and other so-called education programs because they demonstrate little significant improvement for the money spent, I think the Administration should fess up to the reality that all the money in the world isn’t going to change teenagers’ penchant for humping each other. Worse, those teens that fall off the abstinence bandwagon are at risk for unwanted pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases, since these programs are not allowed to talk about condoms and contraception alternatives.
The historical context for abstinence until marriage was affected in small part by the very short time frame between the onset of puberty and the onset of marriage (for girls this was often measured in weeks). Today there’s easily a 10-year average gap between puberty and marriage – an impossibly long time to try to control one’s hormones and the biological urges innately associated with them. If nothing else, the $176 million thrown at these programs, with no change in sexual activity between those who participate in abstinence education and those who do not, is ample proof that the programs are not accomplishing what they intended to accomplish. And they never will.
Here’s an idea: Invest that money in condom awareness and safe sex while discouraging promiscuity. Be open about the practice of sex instead of just the anatomy of sex. Embrace the condom and in half a generation condom angst will disappear. At least four things will happen:
- The incidence of STDs will go down
- The incidence of unwanted pregnancy will go down
- The number of abortions will go down
- The number of out-of-wedlock children who stand a good chance of becoming delinquent and a burden to society when they reach adulthood will go down.
Every one of these points: STDs, unwanted pregnancy, abortion and juvenile delinquency costs real money – billions and billions of dollars. Funnel that $176 million to something that would really make a difference and we’d save a heckuva bundle. [Indeed. In 2000 the cost of STDs alone was pegged at $6.5 billion.] And the best part is that the success of the condom program is measurable: It will only take around 9 months to determine if it’s effective.