And abstinence programs do even more, Rector notes. They ?also can provide the foundation for personal responsibility and enduring marital commitment,? he writes in one Heritage Foundation report. ?Therefore, they are vitally important to efforts aimed at reducing out-of-wedlock childbearing among young adult women, improving child well-being, and increasing adult happiness over the long term.?
Rich also ripped into virginity pledges -- in which students pledge to abstain at least through high school -- calling them ineffective and downright dangerous. But another Heritage report that relies on data from the federally funded National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health shows how wrong he is.
?Adolescents who take a virginity pledge have substantially lower levels of sexual activity and better life outcomes when compared with similar adolescents who do not make such a pledge,? the report says. ?In addition, making a virginity pledge is not associated with any long-term negative outcomes. For example, teen pledgers who do become sexually active are not less likely to use contraception.?
Plus, as my friends at Project Reality point out, if condoms were effective at reducing STDs, then, as condom use goes up, STDs should go down. But they?ve grown right along with condom use.
Seriously, who can deny the dangers of sex for teens? We know that the rates of depression and suicide are higher among teens who are sexually active. We know sexually active kids are more likely to drink, smoke and use drugs. And we know -- as parents, educators and members of the community -- that kids strive to meet the expectations we set for them.
If we subject our children to programs that say, in essence, ?We know you?re going to have sex,? we shouldn?t be surprised when they do. If we tell them we expect them to abstain, on the other hand, many of them (not all, but let?s be reasonable) will do just that.
We owe them the truth. And the ?safe-sex? message is a lie.