October 27, 2011
Abstinence-only may hurt more than help. Credit: examiner.com.
Rick Perry says he is against comprehensive sex education for youth. The Austin Chronicle reports that the Texas Governor and Republican 2012 presidential candidate has made a firm stand in favor of abstinence-only education. Governor Perry made his opinion known publicly in an interview with Evan Smith from The Texas Tribune last year. Abstinence-only sex education teaches youth to refrain from sexual activity until marriage. It generally does not address sexual orientations other than heterosexual and does not endorse condom use. Texas has the fifth highest rate of teenage pregnancy and the third highest repeat teen pregnancy rate in the country. It also ranks the fourth highest among the 50 states in cumulative reported AIDS cases, 10th in the country for syphillis, and 17th for chlamydia infections according to the CDC. Perry stated in the interview "I'm just going to tell you ... from my own personal life, abstinence works."
Advocates for Youth, a DC based non-profit organization, recently published a report that justifies comprehensive sex education as the best way to keep youth safe and healthy. In their report, they found that teens who engage in comprehensive sex education programs are 50 percent less likely to experience pregnancy than those who received abstinence-only education. Not only are pregnancy rates lower but STI rates are lower and teens are more likely to delay sex. Many abstinence-only programs have shown to be ineffective and gives erroneous information about contraception and abortion risks.
What becomes more and more obvious every year is that the bury your head in the sand technique simply doesn't work with 21st century teens. It's so easy for them to be influenced via music, videos, social media, text messages, etc. Teens are facing more pressure from peers than ever and are forced to make more decisions without guidance than in the past. Who cares about a curfew when you can sext or Skype one another? After that it's just a matter of time before computer love moves to making love. If adults (parents, community members and mentors) don't arm them with the tools necessary to bare it all, they will most certainly cave. Unfortunately, just say 'no' doesn't cut it anymore.
To view Rick Perry's interview with Evan Smith, click here. His statement regarding abstinence-only begins around the 50:42 mark.