What is it about sex education that causes some otherwise rational adults to behave irrationally?
When it comes to other topics -- smoking, drinking, drug abuse -- we don?t hesitate to give our children the benefit of an unambiguous ?no.? We tell them flat out that they shouldn?t do it. If anyone said, ?But kids are going to drink any way, so let?s show them how they can minimize the effects of a hangover,? most parents would suggest that that person have his head examined.
Yet who can deny that the same logic (or lack thereof) lies behind the push for ?comprehensive? sex ed? In the name of ?safety,? we?ve allowed a river of pornography to flow through our schools for the last couple of decades. ?Condom races,? in which teams of teens compete to see who can unroll a condom onto a cucumber the fastest, are only the tip of the truth-is-relative iceberg here, folks.
Well, I?m not the only parent (thank God) who thinks this in unacceptable. A recent Zogby poll shows that 91 percent of parents want their children to receive a clear-cut abstinence message. And many school districts nationwide have gotten the message and ditched their ?safe-sex? and ?abstinence-plus? programs for true abstinence ones.
Now we?re hearing a growing chorus of liberal voices claiming the abstinence-only programs that parents say they want their children to receive are misleading, na?, ineffective and damaging. These programs, critics say, leave innocent teens to face sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), pregnancy or worse without proper knowledge of how to use the almighty condom.
Those voices have made two media splashes lately. One is a hysterical column by Frank Rich in The New York Times that makes it sounds as if backwoods red-staters want to make sex illegal. The other is a report published on House Government Reform Committee letterhead and signed by Rep. Henry Waxman, a Democrat whose district includes Hollywood. According to the Waxman report, abstinence programs are subjecting students to ?false and misleading information? about sex.
Well, do the programs work? The Waxman report and the Rich column both claim that abstinence programs haven?t been shown to be effective in preventing teen pregnancy or reducing STDs.
But Robert Rector and Melissa Pardue, two scholars at The Heritage Foundation who research these policy areas thoroughly, say 10 scientific evaluations (four of them peer-reviewed) have found abstinence programs effective both at reducing teen pregnancy and at reducing sexually transmitted diseases.