(Please excuse me if I sound indignant and a bit harsh. But I believe it is evil - yes, evil - to advocate tempting our kids to engage in dangerous behavior and hide information about the potential lifelong suffering that might result from that behavior, such as contracting herpes or gonnorhea. I also take great offense at the term "junk virginity pedagogy." Since when is it wrong to teach kids that they should remain virgins? We are truly now living in a world where what is "right has been declard wrong, and what is wrong has been declared right.")
My husband is so stunned by what Ms Quindlen wrote that he thinks she might have said it only as a publicity stunt. He shook his head and added, "That's got to be it. And it's irresponsible. She's just trying to draw attention to herself by saying something outrageously stupid without regard to the possible consequences if teachers were to take her seriously. It's akin to teaching kids that, 'There's a chance that alcohol might impair your judgment, but boy, it sure makes you feel good.' Wow. That would be an effective anti-drinking campaign."
He might be right, but I actually think she wants more teens to have sex.
Quindlen's column also takes great pains to slam and ridicule abstinence-based sex education programs - even though the mounting evidence is that these programs are actually working.
A recent report by the The Institute for Research and Evaluation, for example, shows the effectiveness of abstinence-based programs versus the "comprehensive sex ed" that Quindlen supports (sans real photographs of the harms of STD's, that is.) The entire report is available at the website of the Abstinence Clearinghouse.
In summary, here are the promising results of how teaching kids about abstinence - including how to deal with peer-pressure, and giving them information on the many physical and emotional harms that often accompany a promiscuous lifestyle - actually works:
"Scientific evaluation is relatively new to abstinence education, and the number of good studies is limited. However, a pattern of evidence is emerging that indicates well-designed abstinence programs can be effective:
* Three recent peer-reviewed studies of school-based abstinence education found significant reductions in sexual activity across all program participants. Two of the programs, Heritage Keepers and Reasons of the Heart, reduced the number of teens who became sexually active by about one-half, 12 months after the program. A third abstinence program, Making a Difference, produced significant reductions in teen sexual activity 24 months after the program.
* In Emerging Answers 2007 one study of school-based abstinence education found a significant delay in the onset of teen sexual intercourse across all participants 12 months after the program.
* Several studies have also found that abstinence education did not decrease condom use for teens who later became sexually active."
And how effective are Ms Quindlen's preferred "comprehensive sex education" programs? The Institute for Research and Evaluation report says:
"The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy published a landmark summary of 115 evaluation studies covering 20 years of research on sex education called Emerging Answers 2007. Their report states that two-thirds of the CSE programs they reviewed 'had positive behavioral effects.' However, we found that:
* No school-based CSE programs had increased the number of teens who used condoms consistently for more than 3 months.
* No school-based CSE programs resulted in a decrease in teen pregnancy or STD rates for any period of time.
* Only one school-based CSE program delayed the onset of teen sexual intercourse for 12 months across the entire program group10 and only three programs increased frequency of condom use (but not consistent use) for the same time period.
* No school-based CSE programs increased both teen abstinence and condom use for the full program group for more than 3 months."
Yet, Ms Quindlen wants more education about the pleasure and less about the consequences of teen sex. Her piece just might go down in history as the most irresponsible commentary on sex-education our nation has ever seen.