And that?s the tame stuff. From condom ?races? (seeing which team of students can be the first to successfully unroll one onto a banana or a cucumber) to graphic descriptions of how teens can perform oral sex on each other ?safely,? these programs are frequently lewd and disgusting. I lack the space (and the stomach, quite frankly) to cite every example, so I?ll refer the terminally curious to the Heritage report mentioned earlier.
The underlying message is unmistakable: Teen sex is normal, so let?s just tell the kids how to avoid pregnancy and disease. There?s a token nod or two to abstinence, but as Heritage?s Robert Rector notes, it often amounts to a sentence or two amid pages and pages of explicit, pro-condom propaganda. Teens get the impression that abstinence is some unattainable ideal -- not the only option that?s fail safe (not to mention moral).
You probably need little proof that parents want such pornography kept far from their kids, but a Zogby International poll of more than 1,000 parents of school-age children provides some: 91 percent said they want teens taught that ?sex should be linked to love, intimacy, and commitment, and that these qualities are most likely to occur in marriage.? In overwhelming numbers, they rejected the morally objectionable content and approach of ?abstinence-plus? programs.
Asked when sexual activity should begin, more than three out of every four parents said teens should wait until they?re married or close to marriage. Another 12 percent said to wait until they?ve at least finished high school. Only 7 percent said ?protected sex? in high school is OK. Yet that?s almost exclusively what these programs teach our teens.
Which means that we?re setting them up for failure. A host of social-science research shows that early sexual activity is dangerous not just because of STDs, but because it hampers the ability to form stable marriages later in life (making the additional $38 million President Bush has proposed for abstinence-only programs a sound investment).
Parents, your teens deserve an unambiguous abstinence message. If your school isn?t providing one, you need to equip yourself with reliable research, network with other parents and make a change. It?s time to subtract the ?plus? from ?abstinence-plus.?