One of my favorite Facebook re-posts is about how young people are just so fickle. “Back in my day,” it may begin. “If something was broke, we’d fix it.”
It’s supposed to apply to relationships and how people should fight for their partners. It’s a great sentiment and I’m not here to disparage it. However, it conveniently leaves out that many relationships never broke — they never really worked to begin with.
What do you do with something that doesn’t work? Oh, it’s in perfectly good condition. It’s not broken. It just doesn’t do anything, or maybe it just doesn’t do the thing you need it to.
I’m not writing today about relationships, although I suppose the topic relates. I’ve been hesitant to approach this for a long time but I’ve run out of excuses:
Let’s talk about sex, baby.
Specifically, let’s look at a recent report that Christian County is in the top 20 in the state for teen pregnancies. That’s no mean feat, the commonwealth is usually among the worst offenders in the nation. Whoohoo! Worst of the worst! Go Colonels.
One in 17 young women aged 15-19 in this county have given birth. Why is that?
Is it because there’s something in the water that makes our teens more randy? Unless Fort Campbell is doing some weird experiments on the water supply, no.
Maybe there aren’t enough entertainment options, so kids make their own? Maybe? I do see way too many kids hanging out in gas station parking lots. I can tell they’re kids because all the trucks are only lifted on the front and have dumb LED lights everywhere — but that still doesn’t make sense.
No, we can sit around and find excuses all day but they all ignore the elephant in the room:
We’re failing our children when it comes to sex education.
Parents need to accept this uncomfortable truth: Your teenagers are going to have sex. Most of them will lie to you about it. It doesn’t matter how spiritual your family is, how much they see pictures of HIV, how often you tell them how expensive children are. They’re going to find someone with whom they’re smitten, and they’re going to have sex.
It’s uncomfortable to think about, it’s awkward to talk about, but it’s going to happen.
If we can get past that, then we can confront another truth: Abstinence-based sex education doesn’t work. It didn’t work for your grandparents, it won’t work for your children. It has never worked, not in any era in which mankind has existed.
I’m not dragging the efforts of everyone involved with bringing sex education to our kids. However, far too many people still peddle abstinence-focused sex ed in this area.
Even in the Kentucky New Era article about that statistic above, the article states as a qualified fact that “abstinence is the only 100 percent effective form of contraception.”
On the surface it makes sense. If you don’t have sex, you can’t get pregnant. True, but that only works if people aren’t having sex. Bad news: They’re having sex. Only a small percentage of humankind is abstinent by choice.
My intent is not to pick on any individuals or organizations, but one of the “wellness programs” cited in that article was Choosing The Best. It’s not immediately clear how abstinence-focused this program is until you visit the website, where it proclaims it proudly. The materials given to children based on Choosing The Best always lead to the same conclusion that teens should just “delay” sex, preferably until they find their “soulmate.”
It’s a fine goal. No one should be made fun of for that decision, should they choose it. Most people do not. That’s the problem. We’re delivering an education for the statistically insignificant few instead of addressing reality. It shouldn’t be “liberal” or “anti-religion” to say that.
So, what have we established? People, including teenagers, are going to have sex. The education many of them receive about sex doesn’t work. There’s nothing broke to fix. So what’s our solution?
It’s time to throw it out. Let’s stop relying on archaic sex ed practices that don’t work. Let’s start by relying more on curricula that addresses that teenagers are going to have sex whether we approve or not, and that’s this week’s small victory.
Jesse Jones is the editor of The Eagle Post, a member of Paxton Media Group. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.