Rich Tucker

In reality, with seatbelt use we’ve taken a zero-tolerance policy. Many areas have even made not wearing a seatbelt into a moving violation -- fail to buckle up and we’ll treat you exactly as we’d treat a driver who’d done something dangerous, such as run a red light or a stop sign. That’s actually silly, since drivers who don’t wear seatbelts are endangering only themselves.

But it does let drivers know we’re serious.

We ought to approach teen pregnancy the same way. Schools should explain to our children that premarital sex is dangerous. It leads to pregnancy and sometimes-deadly diseases including AIDS.

We should tell teens that we, as a society, don’t tolerate premarital sex. Just as students are urged to sign pledges to never drink and drive, they should be encouraged to sign abstinence pledges. These pledges, despite what you read in the newspapers, actually work.

As proof, just look at the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, a long-term, government funded study of 90,000 seventh- through 12th-graders. “Teens who pledged to remain a virgin until marriage began sexual activity much later than their peers who did not take such a pledge,” the government reported in 2001. And the later they start, the better off we all are. Older teenagers are generally more responsible, and thus less likely to become pregnant or contract an STD.

Are some children going to have sex anyway, no matter what we tell them? Certainly. Just as some are going to drink and drive anyway, no matter what we tell them. Teenagers always have, and always will, think they’re immortal. They’re always going to take risks that seem foolish to adults.

But at the same time, they’re always going to look to adults for advice. We make it a point to let teenagers know they shouldn’t drink and drive, ride in a car without a seatbelt, smoke, or litter. Let’s make sure we give them the correct advice about abstinence, too.

Rich Tucker

Rich Tucker is a communications professional and a columnist for