Stories like this come to mind when the topic turns to sex education. From the teenage rumor mill to pessimistic parents, experts and media outlets, the expectation is that everyone in high school is going to have sex. Why wouldn't it make sense to apply the same principle, seeking to reduce the level of peer pressure and insist that illicit sex doesn't have to be part of the high-school experience? Our health experts eagerly discourage teen drinking or drug use. Why do they seem to have a real problem with people who would discourage teenage sex?
The "comprehensive sex education" lobby is now hoping to defund the growing federal effort this decade toward abstinence education. They're putting out "new" studies of surveys taken in the 1990s to suggest sexual abstinence pledges are "useless." One researcher at Johns Hopkins University complained that promoting the pledges gives a "false sense of security, and energy could be better spent in education," he says. "It is time to stop spending money on these useless programs and funnel it into safer-sex counseling."
Instead of talking kids out of sex, the experts express the need to talk them into bed, or the back seat of a car. Sex therapist Laura Berman appeared on NBC to claim that what high-school students really need to learn is "how to negotiate for condom use" and "troubleshooting" when sexual situations inevitably occur.
But would experts like Berman really want to take that Theory of Inevitability and apply it to teenage drinking or drunk driving? Or drug use? Or smoking? Would she insist our children need filters on their marijuana cigarettes, or tools like "how to negotiate with pushers"?
Whether it's teenage sex or substance abuse, adults need to set a tone in schools that at the very least tells children that not "everybody" engages in risky immoral behavior, and not "everybody" should be expected to engage in it or be a social outcast. Children don't always greet that message with rolled eyes. They often greet it with relief.
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