Janice Shaw Crouse

The National Center for Health Statistics analyzed the data from the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and produced estimates of the probabilities of a first birth occurring by each birthday from ages 15 to 20 for women completing the survey who were 15 to 24 in 2002. Among women who used contraception at first intercourse, the probability of giving birth at each age is roughly half (half!) that of those that did not use contraception. What is not as often pointed to, however, is the fact that the odds of giving birth even to those women who did use contraception were still significant and rose to 17 percent by age 20.

Like Calculus, sex is a tough subject, one that you can't fool around with – one that requires discipline and self control.

But there is another comparison that the "they're gonna do it anyway so give 'em condoms" advocates of condom-based sex education (in their battle against the abstinence approach) treat as irrelevant. While the probability of a sexually active female giving birth approximately doubles between 18 and 20 years of age whether the young women uses contraception at first intercourse or not, if you're a teen who does not have intercourse, the probability of giving birth by age 20 is the same as it is by age 18; it's zero. No sex, no babies and no hopes and dreams smashed to pieces. Pretty simple.

What the data are telling us is that out of every 24 girls in sex-ed classes where they are handing out condoms, the odds are that about four of the sexually active ones can forget about going to college even if all of them tell the guys they have to wear those condoms they got in sex-ed class. When a girl just says "no" to five to ten minutes of awkward fumbling around in the back seat of some guy's car, what's it going to cost her? Maybe five to ten minutes of popularity with a guy who probably won't be around to help pick up the pieces of her future.

It is sad to think about how, for the sake of a little attention and maybe even a little affection, a lot of girls say "o.k." and then have to contend with the very real possibility of ending up pregnant or infected even when he wears a condom. To my mind, clearly facing these hard realities of sex makes the choice about sexual activity very simple and very uncomplicated.

There is a mountain of media out there promoting a phony philosophy about the joys of casual, risky sexual experimentation; one need look no further than the junk advice featured in magazines like Cosmopolitan to see just how pernicious it is. Even the "Dear Abby" column in many daily newspapers spreads the expectation of sexual activity for teens.

This assault will not be neutralized until a brigade of those who know better find their voices to convince today's Sex-in-the-City generation of misguided young women that it is discipline – it is having an attitude that says, "I won't mess up my tomorrows by fooling around today" – that opens the gateway to achieving their dreams and ambitions, whether you're talking Calculus or sex.


Janice Shaw Crouse

Janice Shaw Crouse is a former speechwriter for George H. W. Bush and now political commentator for the Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee.
 
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