Is Abstinence-Only Education the World's Most Effective Pro-Natalist Policy?

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According to a study released yesterday, the teen birth rate jumped 3 percent last year after a 15 year decline. Every blogger ever jumps to blame "Bush's abstinence-only policies."

I yield to no man in my contempt for slut-shaming abstinence-only policies, but kids are not as malleable as supporters of comprehensive sex ed policies make them out to be. The available evidence suggests that abstinence-only programs have no impact whatsoever. Kids might as well spend the 40 minutes staring at a brick wall. It's a waste of class time and money, with some virgin/whore mythology thrown in for good measure.

You could argue that schools ought to convey accurate rather than inaccurate information about the subject. I would agree with you. But as far as I know, there is no solid evidence that "comprehensive" sex ed–the relevant alternative–has any impact on sexual behavior either. That's the conclusion of UC Berkeley sociologist Kristin Luker's extremely thorough book on the subject, where she explains why she can't find a single study robust enough to back:

We are looking for an outcome, teenage sexual behavior, that is affected by many forces, only one of which is sex education, during a period of tremendous social change, which has surely had some independent impact on such behavior, and we are looking at everything from one class room period to a semester's worth of classes, all in the service of trying to see if they affected the outcome.

Cross-country comparisons, for what they are worth, do not lend credence to the idea that kids take their sexual marching orders from public school teachers. In Sweden, kids are exposed to intensive comprehensive sex ed programs. In France, such programs are less common than they are here. Yet Sweden and France have similar rates of STDs and teen pregnancy. U.S. rates are higher.

As an aside, the most interesting thing about that study was not the jump in teen birth rates, but the jump in the overall birth rate. U.S. women are breeding above replacement for the first time since 1971.

My review of Kristin Luker's book is here. Watch an abstinence-only school pageant here.

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  1. So, which do we waste more money on:

    Useless abstinence education, or

    Useless “sex” education?

    kids take their sexual marching orders from public school teachers.

    Unless your teacher is a hot blonde. Preferably wearing glasses. That she can take off soo slowwly . . .

    Oh, is this still on?

  2. Great article! Thanks! (and the review is well-worth a read!)

    P&T do a number on abstinence programs, as probably many remember!

  3. The results of abstinence only education have been nothing short of phenomenal. As more Americans are born, presumably in low economic status families, we will need to import fewer illegal Mexican workers. This will lower the crime rate. Also, we have more soldiers for the Global War on Terror, so the homeland will be safer. I don’t see any downside here.

  4. I bet real ‘Merican women aren’t breeding fast enough. Only reason that rate’s so high is all them brown women. We don’t want them breeding.

    1. Can you tell me your definition of a “real ‘Merican woman”?

  5. Just to add to the misinformation passed out by schools:

    I remember in sex ed, to scare us into abstinence (and this was a fairly liberal public school I might add), they hammered into us that despite the popularity of the “rhythm method”, that a woman was fertile basically the whole month. According to Wikipedia, it’s more like only a week.

    Though I still encourage the younguns to wear a jimmy hat. Or “capotes anglaises” if you prefer.

  6. Why are schools in the business of sex ed in the first place? I don’t know about anyone else, but I plan to send my children to school to learn how to read and write and do math and things like that. I don’t plan to send them to school to learn how to screw. My guess is they will figure that one out on their own and perhaps their limited time in school ought to be spent on more productive matters. If we just killed all sex ed in schools and told parents that it was their responsibility to teach little junior how not to get his girlfriend pregnant, it would end this whole tiresome debate and perhaps give kids time to learn something usful in school.

  7. From the perspective of a social conservative, you can’t measure the effectiveness of abstinence based education by the birth rate because the goal of such education isn’t to reduce teenage births but rather to reduce teenage conceptions. Abstinence programs might simultaneously decrease conceptions and increase births. From the perspective of a social conservative, more births aren’t necessarily a bad tradeoff for fewer conceptions.

    It’s rather revealing that the article and perhaps the study seems to view the results solely from the perspective of a social “progressive” without asking appearing if the shifts in behavior that social conservatives want have actually appeared.

  8. Ego-

    certainly – better have people wallow in ignorance than be confront realities that make them uncomfortable. (*takes fierce bite of sammich*)

    remember:
    [singing]
    a tisket a tasket
    a condom or a casket.

  9. Shannon Love,

    The studies attempt to assess sexual behavior, not just birth rates. Abstinence-only education has no impact on sexual activity, as far as we know, so it would be pretty surprising if they increased conceptions.

  10. John,

    Since the first Massachusetts public schools opened up to raise children to be members of the “right” sect of Christianity, the primary purpose of public schools have been to indoctrinate children into the morality that whomever controls the state thinks they should have.

    Sure they give you parents things like PTA meetings to give you the illusion of control, but in the end if they respected your opinions, they wouldn’t have tax-funded schools with compulsory attendance laws.

  11. Why isn’t the human reproductive system simply taught in biology class, same as the respiratory and circulatory systems? You can teach kids how the lungs work and explain why smoking cigarettes can hinder the process without adding editorial commentary about whether smoking is good or bad, and you can teach how the reproductive system works and explain why certain contraceptives hinder the process without adding editorial commentary about whether contraception is good or bad.

  12. Is the jump in birth rates due to recent immigrants, both legal and illegal?

  13. In Sweden, kids are exposed to intensive comprehensive sex ed programs. In France, such programs are less common than they are here. Yet Sweden and France have similar rates of STDs and teen pregnancy.

    Do France and Sweden have channels like BET and MTV where you can see sweet sweet hos shakin their moneymakers in the camera right after school?

    Mmmm-mmmm!

  14. Conservative liberal.

    naughty! GO TO YOUR ROOM. BUT NO BATIN. NONE.

    (they have those channels IN SCHOOL, of course. no need to wait while riding the bus).

  15. they hammered into us that despite the popularity of the “rhythm method”, that a woman was fertile basically the whole month. According to Wikipedia, it’s more like only a week

    As anyone who knows about Natural Family Planning could tell you, figuring out which week is the fertile week is the tough part. NFP = calendar roulette.

  16. Kids might as well spend the 40 minutes staring at a brick wall.

    I tried that back in high school. It didn’t work. After spending 40 minutes staring at a brick wall, I was still horny.

  17. “U.S. women are breeding above replacement for the first time since 1971.”

    Whoo-hoo! U-S-A! U-S-A!

  18. U.S. women are breeding above replacement for the first time since 1971.

    Which has political implications (from http://www.amconmag.com/2004_12_06/cover.html):

    “voters are picking their parties based on differing approaches to the most fundamentally important human activity: having babies. The white people in Republican-voting regions consistently have more children than the white people in Democratic-voting regions. The more kids whites have, the more pro-Bush they get … States, however, differ significantly in white fertility. The most fecund whites are in heavily Mormon Utah, which, not coincidentally, was the only state where Bush received over 70 percent. White women average 2.45 babies in Utah compared to merely 1.11 babies in Washington, D.C., where Bush earned but 9 percent. The three New England states where Bush won less than 40 percent-Massachusetts, Vermont, and Rhode Island-are three of the four states with the lowest white birthrates, with little Rhode Island dipping below 1.5 babies per woman.”

  19. Well said Jennifer.

  20. In honor of Jennifer, here’s Lloyd Cole and the Commotions’ Jennifer, She Said

  21. For Lurker Kurt re:Is the jump in birth rates due to recent immigrants, both legal and illegal? The NYT says “The largest increase came among black teenagers, but increases were also seen among whites, Hispanics and American Indians. Birth rates among Asian teenagers continued to drop. “

  22. I second John’s post.

  23. Specifically, the birth rate for black teens rose 5 percent to 63.7 births per 1,000 teens. The rate rose 2 percent, to 83 births per 1,000, for Hispanic teens, and 3 percent, to 26.6 per 1,000, for white teens.

  24. I also agree with jennifer…

    In high school in the 80s sex-ed was wrapped up within “health class” which taught you all sorts of really really useful things like the heimlich maneuver on a plastic dummy, having good self esteem by using black and white 1950s videos (good luck if you where anything but white), taking care of a box of flour for a few weeks (which ended up becoming chocolate chip cookies in hom-ec), and how to put a condom on a cucumber (for those times that you use a cucumber and you don’t know where its been).

    In other words – a complete waste of an hour.

  25. like the heimlich maneuver on a plastic dummy,

    That, basic CPR, and first aid, probably should be taught.

  26. If you outsource reproduction to, say, Eastern Europe or India, does the baby count here or there?

    When I was in school the local military nursing staff were in charge of drug education and sex ed. Looking back, even we elementary school kids could tell that they were stoned.

    They did do a pretty good job though.

  27. Franklin’s Rules of the Universe:

    No. 452: Abstinence-only programs never work.

    No. 14: All girls named Chastity grow up to be sluts.

  28. Jennifer,

    Why isn’t the human reproductive system simply taught in biology class, same as the respiratory and circulatory systems?

    Short answer: Because looking at images of lungs doesn’t make people want smoke but looking at images of sexual organs does make people want to have sex. Hell, just leaving people in a room with a tape loop saying, “sex. sex, sex” over and over makes people horny.

    Sex is an innate human drive, arguably THE innate human drive. Yet, its very power makes it dangerous. All traditional human cultures recognize that talking about sex raises sexual activity. If your goal is to reduce or channel sexual activity the best way of doing so is to restrict environmental clues that evoke sexual thoughts.

    Only over educated morons that believe that humans are rational beings can rationalize that a couple of weeks of formal education will overwhelm the drive of the genes or the inherited values of a culture that evolved over centuries. The less well educated who must rely on personal experience, tradition and horse sense, know better.

  29. My sex education just made me want to jerk off, for which I’m thankful my parents were the first on the block to get HBO in the early 80s.
    But picking up on what Jennifer said … You can teach kids the reason why “there is fur where there was no fur before,” but there’s no reason to remind them of their “throbbing biological urges.” Boys are quite aware that their dicks get hard if a slight breeze occurs. Why do you think we all lined up to climb the pole in third grade?
    Make the education about human biology, and you can make it “value neutral.”

  30. “Hell, just leaving people in a room with a tape loop saying, “sex. sex, sex” over and over makes people horny.”
    If teens at least knew how to use a condom they could more safely navigate their way through the erotic jungle in which you seem to believe we live

  31. “virgin/whore mythology”

    It ain’t a myth.

  32. According to Wikipedia, it’s more like only a week (that a woman is fertile).

    As stated above, the trick is predicting which week. This is particularly difficult with teenagers. In the first place, their ovulation cycle hasn’t been going long enough to be that regular. In the second place, they aren’t keeping track. Standing in a motel room on prom night isn’t conducive to coolly calculating when your last period ended and what that means in terms of fertility.

    From the perspective of a social conservative, you can’t measure the effectiveness of abstinence based education by the birth rate because the goal of such education isn’t to reduce teenage births but rather to reduce teenage conceptions.

    Actually, what conservatives really want to prevent is any sexual interaction, solo or duet, specifically including coitus. Or was that the word you were looking for? “Conception” is when the sperm fertilizes the egg. Therefore decreasing conceptions would (absent preventing abortion) decrease births.

    What Jennifer said, plus, they have this little pill. Set your teenage daughter down and tell her that if she needs birth control to “regulate her periods” you’ll get them for her. Then read with her the warning that pills and IUDs don’t protect against disease. You’ll be tempted to give her the moral background then, but unless you have a wayback machine it’s too late.

    If your goal is to reduce or channel sexual activity the best way of doing so is to restrict environmental clues that evoke sexual thoughts.

    For adults maybe. For teenagers you’d have to reduce the stimuli to the level of sensory depravation, which would only give them more time to think about doing it. Starvation might reduce the teenage libido, but it has unfortunate side effects.

  33. “If your goal is to reduce or channel sexual activity the best way of doing so is to restrict environmental clues that evoke sexual thoughts.”

    In order to have an impact on boys, that would reqire rounding up all high school girls in America and putting them into camps.

  34. “Why do you think we all lined up to climb the pole in third grade?”

    Speak for yourself…

  35. “Make the education about human biology, and you can make it “value neutral.”” Hahahaha! If you don’t get arrested for teaching biology in rural Kansas nowadays.

  36. In order to have an impact on boys, that would reqire rounding up all high school girls in America and putting them into camps.

    That would be the first concentraton camp in history that had more people trying to break into it than trying to escape from it.

  37. 3% constitutes a jump? That’s not statistically significant. Teen pregnancies have returned to that abhorrent 2004 level that was still well below historical norms. OMFG. So apparently, teen pregnancy peaked at the end of the Reagan/Bush 41 presidancies and began a steady decline during the Clinton years and took 7 years of Bush 43 to half that decline? Sorry, I just don’t see a story here.

  38. If you don’t get arrested for teaching biology in rural Kansas nowadays.

    For Kansas, you just have to give equal time to the stork theory of reproduction.

  39. Michelle,

    If teens at least knew how to use a condom they could more safely navigate their way through the erotic jungle in which you seem to believe we live

    Right, that’s the problem, American teenagers are to dumb to know how to put on a condom.

    Pray tell then why in an age when every 12 year old not home schooled seems to know how to use a condom that we have higher rates of all the negative effects of sexual promiscuity now than in the 50’s?

    There’s a little technique called empiricism. You can use it to test you hypothesis, try it.

  40. I don’t understand the hostility to Sex-Ed.

    When I was in HS, we had sex-ed as part of Health class for a semester. This also included things like CPR/Heimlich and other stuff I dont remember as vividly as the sex-ed and CPR stuff.

    Sex-ed is more than merely biology. It teaches about how STDs are transmitted and what kinds of prevention/treatments were available and what kinds of symptoms one might look for if you have an STD. It also taught us about different methods of birth control and how they worked, and discussed effectiveness rates and proper usage.

    Many of these topics weren’t discussed at home from family for various reasons ( My parents never had a substantial talk about it other than my mom saying “don’t let 5 minutes of pleasure ruin you’re whole life” — non of my friends parents talked about it either)

    I also don’t think my Biology teachers (who was in fact a horticulture teacher who had to teach bio that year) would have been eager or comfortable teaching about reproduction and STDs.

    I also don’t remember any misinformation, but I do remember that when they did discuss topics like when can you get pregnant they were very careful to be too definite about things.

    All in all I thought it was a rather useful class that filled a need/void that would have been there for many students who didn’t have parents who were willing to have these discussions.

  41. Abdule,

    That would be the first concentraton camp in history that had more people trying to break into it than trying to escape from it.

    Nice rhetorical trick. We cannot reach perfection so we shouldn’t try anything. Works in dorm room debates but not anywhere else.

    Traditional culture did suppress sexual activity often by draconian means. It can be done.

  42. “Pray tell then why in an age when every 12 year old not home schooled seems to know how to use a condom”
    Why don’t you test that empirically? I’m confident every 12 year old does not know how to use a condom and you’d negate your hypothesis if you actually took the time to test it.

  43. ChicagoTom,

    I don’t understand the hostility to Sex-Ed.

    (1) It doesn’t work. Providing objective information doesn’t alter decisions based on impulse and emotion. The only clear effect that sex ed ever had was raising abortion rates and even that is just a correlation.

    (2) It was imposed by elitist, authoritarian means with no regard to individual or even community cultural standards. Traditionalist parents felt absolutely raped.

  44. “3% constitutes a jump? That’s not statistically significant.” Actually, if you read the report you’d see that 3% was indeed statistically significant

  45. Speak for yourself…

    Boy, Anthony, you missed out. I’m not sure if climbing a pole works as an adult, but it sure does for the kiddies.

  46. Right, that’s the problem, American teenagers are to dumb to know how to put on a condom.

    you may or may not be shocked to know that even college aged kids have trouble with rubbers, namely forgetting the little things that decrease the chances of slippage.

    Traditional culture did suppress sexual activity often by draconian means. It can be done.

    we can also stifle dissent through shooting people in the head. it can be done.

    don’t make it a good idea, though.

  47. Michelle,

    I’m confident every 12 year old does not know how to use a condom…

    Well, you got me, That Mormon kid hulled my argument. Obviously, martians or the red scare explain the lower rates of pregnancy and venereal disease back in the 50’s.

    If you look at the research you will see that absolutely no correlation exist between the knowledge of how to use a condom or any other form of birth control. This is something which has been studied to death, death, death.

    The idea that most teenage pregnancies result from ignorance is just a myth that intellectuals who overestimate their own influence tell themselves so they can get to sleep at night. The vast majority of teenage mothers know exactly how babies are made and how to prevent it. They and their partners simply choose not to make the necessary tradeoffs.

    The ugly truth was that it proved far easier to encourage people to have sex than it did to encourage them to have sex responsibly.

  48. (1) It doesn’t work. Providing objective information doesn’t alter decisions based on impulse and emotion. The only clear effect that sex ed ever had was raising abortion rates and even that is just a correlation.

    This presumes goals that aren’t necessarily there.


    (2) It was imposed by elitist, authoritarian means with no regard to individual or even community cultural standards. Traditionalist parents felt absolutely raped.

    Parents can object to all kinds of things and feel raped. Many places allow parents to let their kids op out. And even if they can’t such parents should get a fucking life, lest they be raped by everything in society.

    I find there are a number of things to complain about in the public school system. The notion of teaching about human sexuality is pretty far down the list.

  49. The idea that most teenage pregnancies result from ignorance is just a myth that intellectuals who overestimate their own influence tell themselves so they can get to sleep at night.

    i’m with you on the first part; the second part i honestly have no idea what the hell you’re on about.

    also comparing teaching about condoms to sexual assault is 31 flavors of conservalame. just fyi.

  50. “”””If your goal is to reduce or channel sexual activity the best way of doing so is to restrict environmental clues that evoke sexual thoughts.”””

    Evnironmental clues my ass. The urge to have sex is natural, it’s not environmental envoked. Stick any 16 year old male with almost any women and he’ll want to do it. Unless she has some repealing feature. Well, that wouldn’t stop it either, he just wouldn’t tell his friends.

  51. dhex,

    the second part i honestly have no idea what the hell you’re on about.

    Leftist intellectuals have a systematic over confidence in their ability to alter or control behavior using articulation. In short, they believe they can solve every problem by talking to people.

    Sex education was the answer to the challenge poised by cultural conservatives when they asked proponents of the sexual revolution how they would mitigate the harm of sexual promiscuity. The proponents said, “easy we’ll just teach everybody how not to cause harm and they will do it.”

    Didn’t work. People who still sell the idea of the desirability of sexual promiscuity still need to explain how they will mitigate harm. They still come up with the same solution even though 30 years of experience tells us it doesn’t work.

    also comparing teaching about condoms to sexual assault is 31 flavors of conservalame

    Sex education represented the first major instance in which broad social consensus about moral education in U.S. schools broke down. If you study the actual politics involved you will see the widespread use of non-democratic mechanism to enforce the change. Everything from court orders to withholding of state and federal funds. Local decision making was obliterated.

    Many people believed that the government schools were teaching their children that extra marital sex was desirable and admirable. If you look at many of the materials from the late 60’s and 70;s they were correct.

    Sex education was an attempt by Leftist operating from a Freudian belief to restructure American sexual culture. Parents who objected were run right over.

  52. So, how does this effect my efforts to open a half-way house for chicks who don’t go all-the-way?

  53. Shannon, your tard limit has been exceeded. That’s quite the tinfoil beehive you’ve got.

    Never attribute to conspiracy what can easily be explained by incompetence.

  54. Lucky human bastards.

    “Oh, we’re so special. We can just not get pregnant.”

  55. Yeah, Eddie, but it ain’t that easy when you are trapped in a Navy ship a few light-years from Earth…oooh Roderick! You can captain my ship any day!

  56. People who still sell the idea of the desirability of sexual promiscuity still need to explain how they will mitigate harm.

    yeah i don’t really see how you go from point a to point b but i also think your gilded age of sexual restraint didn’t actually exist either.

    personally, i was not very convinced about this until i started reading up on how things used to work; what we’ve removed is the “you must get married” bit, not the “oh crap oh crap just knocked her up” bit. which may be your general overall point, and that somehow sexual education helped us get to the point where we no longer send women off to halfway houses or uh, dammit what’s the catholic version of a house for pregnant single women? (or married women who are on the run from abusive spouses, etc) they closed a bunch on long island in the last 10 years, unfortunately.

    anyway, i think you’re operating in a double-bind here that you can’t quite see:

    Sex education was an attempt by Leftist operating from a Freudian belief to restructure American sexual culture. Parents who objected were run right over.

    freudian thing aside (it’s a red herring that joins conservatives and academic leftists who still take him seriously in a dance of silly willy nilly, but this is not the thread to work on that) i’m with you on the whole school control thing; i’m firmly of the belief that people should be free to teach their kids dumb and smart things as they wish (fortunate or not it is better than federal control most likely; or at the very least, it is far more fair.) so dumbass stuff like creationism, well…it’ll make it that much easier for kids from less dumb districts to compete against them (and for most people it won’t matter one way or the other, really, outside of perhaps retarding any interest in the sciences they may have…)

    now according to you, they won. the freudian leftists i mean. (at least in part) using words, no less!

    what made their words more strong than the words of the traditionalist culture they came out of? i don’t particularly remember school being very influential one way or the other compared to peers and to a lesser degree my parents. a lack of truly coercive measures on the part of the school – compared to social sanctioning and certainly familial pressure/banishment – seems to make this a “war of the words” issue.

    either words are powerful (they can be!) or they’re not really that powerful (i lean towards this most of the time) or they’re just powerful enough to fuck things up? (what i think you’re trying to say)

    frankly, i think you should point your eyes towards women in the workforce if you want to talk about destablilization of traditional mores. traditional sexual mores (of the sense we’re talking about) are only enforceable on such a level when women are prevented from making money for themselves. even in saudi arabia and other countries, i was fascinated to learn how many young women from arab countries will get hymen reconstructive surgery done in order to make sure they can still get married.

  57. (1) It doesn’t work. Providing objective information doesn’t alter decisions based on impulse and emotion. The only clear effect that sex ed ever had was raising abortion rates and even that is just a correlation.

    That isn’t really the point of sex ed.

    But I see what you mean. It doesn’t work because it doesn’t achieve your personal goal of altering peoples decisions.

    The point of sex ed isn’t to alter decisions, but to allow people to make informed decisions. And for that it works wonderfully.

    (2) It was imposed by elitist, authoritarian means with no regard to individual or even community cultural standards. Traditionalist parents felt absolutely raped.

    Traditionalist parents can home school the kids. The fact of the matter is that there is nothing inherently immoral about teaching children about human biology and diseases. Much like we teach kids basic hygeine, it’s good to know how to minimize the risk of diseases (sexual and other)

    Do you oppose teaching evolution as well?

  58. Short answer: Because looking at images of lungs doesn’t make people want smoke but looking at images of sexual organs does make people want to have sex.

    And looking at images of food can make people hungry, but I wouldn’t argue that the way to solve America’s obesity problem is to not teach kids about food. “Nutrition should be taught in the home by loving parents with benefit of clergy, not in the public schools!”

    And are even teenage male horndogs actually turned on by diagrams showing the location of the uterus and fallopian tubes? If so, so what–they’re teenagers, and teenagers are going to think about sex regardless of whether or not they know how it works.

  59. The vast majority of teenage mothers know exactly how babies are made and how to prevent it. They and their partners simply choose not to make the necessary tradeoffs.

    Hell, in many subcultures, having a baby while you’re in junior high or high school is a big status thing. Its not that they take the risk they’ll have a baby, they positively insist on it.

    Shannon, your tard limit has been exceeded.

    I dunno. I thought her post was dead on target.

  60. Why would someone be surprised that sex ed in schools is leading to higher rates of pregnancy and STDs? Teachers are screwing up all subjects, not just health.

    I’m sure if they raised school taxes just a bit more they’ll lick the problem!

  61. Mr. Obvious – nah.
    hier is how teachers screw up sex ed

    (from hier)

  62. And are even teenage male horndogs actually turned on by diagrams showing the location of the uterus and fallopian tubes?

    Well..yes, at that age the hormones kind of obscure rational thinking. My personal opin is that you don’t recover till about age 30 or so.

    If so, so what–they’re teenagers, and teenagers are going to think about sex regardless of whether or not they know how it works.

    It’s more about figuring out how it works, then having enough statistical data to make sure you personally have proven how it works.

  63. “I don’t understand the hostility to Sex-Ed.”

    Me neither. Here’s this equipment that you have…here’s what it does…if you have any questions, I’ll answer them now.

    Oh, and it’s really not a political issue at all any more than the teaching of evolution is, yet another issue that gets in the way of people taking Americans seriously.

    No idea what the fuck has gotten up Shannon Love’s ass at this point.

  64. RC Dean,

    I was referring to the leftist conspiracy part. Teens were having sex in the 50s as much as in the 60s, it was just wasn’t talked about at all. Do-gooder gov’t types later though they could do something about it. Just plain old incompetence.

  65. pinko – probably one of the toys from that sex hotel.
    (or Shannon is the bison in the pic above)

  66. No idea what the fuck has gotten up Shannon Love’s ass at this point.

    That’s exactly the sort of ignorance sex ed is supposed to eradicate!

  67. Abstinence programs might simultaneously decrease conceptions and increase births.

  68. Traditional culture did suppress sexual activity often by draconian means. It can be done.

    Absolutely.

    But if you draconially suppress sexual activity for the first two decades or so of people’s lives, how will you expect them to function normally thereafter?

    Obviously, martians or the red scare explain the lower rates of pregnancy and venereal disease back in the 50’s.

    Actually the rate of pregnancy and particularly teen pregnancy was higher in the 50s, and even higher before then.

    Until the WWII G.I. Bill kicked in most people didn’t go to college. Before the 40s, most didn’t graduate from high school. Girls became women at 14 or 15, spent “sweet sixteen” shopping for mates and getting married, and by 18 or 19 were mommies. “Waiting for the wedding night” took one or two years, not ten or twelve. And there were still lots of “early babies” in the equation.

    The 50s were also the high water mark for the “Don’t sleep around ’cause everyone’s got VD” movies.

  69. Just as important as real sex education that actually educated would be education on the ageing process. No one ever told me hair would start growing in my ears at a later point in my life. And unfortunately, it’s not Lucy Liu’s hair…

  70. “Hell, in many subcultures, having a baby while you’re in junior high or high school is a big status thing. Its not that they take the risk they’ll have a baby, they positively insist on it.”

    Really ? Which sub-cultures are these ?
    In other words – I call Bullshit.

  71. The 50s were also the high water mark for the “Don’t sleep around ’cause everyone’s got VD” movies.

    Well, ten years previous they were the victors, to whom went the spoils, in the P.I. and Paris. So, they might have not been stretching the truth all that much.

  72. An interesting essay by Frederica Mathewes-Green:

    “Teen pregnancy is not the problem. *Unwed* teen pregnancy is the problem. It’s childbearing outside marriage that causes all the trouble. Restore an environment that supports younger marriage, and you won’t have to fight biology for a decade or more. . . .

    “It’s not that young people are inherently incapable of responsibility – history disproves that – but that we no longer expect it. . . .

    “The age that a man, or woman, can earn a reasonable income has been steadily increasing as education has been dumbed down. . . .

    “(It’s odd that kids thought to be too irresponsible for marriage are expected instead to practice heroic abstinence or diligent contraception.) . . .

    “We cultivate the idea of idyllic, carefree childhood, and as the years for education have stretched so have the bounds of that playground, so that we expect even ‘kids’ in their mid-to-late twenties to avoid settling down. . . .
    “During the last half of the 20th century, as brides’ age rose from 20 to 25, the divorce rate doubled. The trend toward older, and presumptively more mature, couples didn’t result in stronger marriages. Marital durability has more to do with the expectations and support of surrounding society than with the partners’ age. . . .
    “. . . young marriage can succeed, as it always has, with the support of family and friends. . . .”

    http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/comment-mathewes-green092002.asp

  73. “Hell, in many subcultures, having a baby while you’re in junior high or high school is a big status thing. Its not that they take the risk they’ll have a baby, they positively insist on it.”

    Really ? Which sub-cultures are these ?
    In other words – I call Bullshit.

    I see your bullshit and raise the rose colored glasses from your eyes. I guess you haven’t spent too much time around inner city African American girls.

  74. I see your bullshit and raise the rose colored glasses from your eyes. I guess you haven’t spent too much time around inner city African American girls.

    It’s true that there are lots of teenage moms in the ghetto, but I don’t blame that on the sex education they get in their subpar schools; I blame that on our damnable welfare system that makes having a baby you can’t support a SMART financial move from the perspective of an uneducated girl with no job skills and scant chance of acquiring any. Hell, if my unmarried self had three or four kids and sat at home all day, the total value of the welfare benefits I’d get would likely surpass the money I earn at my job (especially when you look at how much I actually pocket after taxes).

    If you don’t expect people to behave responsibly, don’t be surprised when they act irresponsibly. And despite Shannon’s frothing, the problem is not “teenagers are having sex,” the problem is “teenagers are having sex without taking the simple precautions that will prevent pregnancy and disease.”

  75. Really ? Which sub-cultures are these ?
    In other words – I call Bullshit.

    no, he’s backed up by some research on this point.

    think of it in terms of both the economic havoc from the drug war and the resultant loss of young black males; having a child becomes an accomplishment, a form of status and a form of companionship. since you can’t form a stable family partnership with many of the males who are left in your social pool, you have to adapt.

    doesn’t make the adaptation good in the long run, mind you, but it’s not crazy talk either.

  76. dhex – I’ll certainly concede it if it’s backed by real research of substance, but at first listen it sounded too much like the “cadillac driving welfare queen” myth to me.
    Whatever Mr.Snit may think, I don’t have to have be friends with innercity folks to smell urban-myth in the air.

  77. I was always fascinated by the way that both the “teach ’em condoms” and the “teach ’em abstinence” factions assumed that kids will actually do the things they’re told to in school.

    If that were true, all those mandatory classes in scientific Marxism-Leninism in eastern European countries should have had more effect…

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