Abstinence-only sex ed is not the answer


Editor’s Note: Author Megan Ohls is a student in the Spring 2009 Feminist Theory class in The University of Akron’s Women’s Studies Program. To read more student posts, click here.

sexedu2From a health standpoint, if we want to stop the spread of AIDS and other STDs, abstinence-only sex education isn’t the answer. Sexually Transmitted Diseases among young people are spreading at alarming rates, and in order to get this under control we need to have comprehensive sex education in our schools.

Recent surveys show that 70 percent of U.S. teens have engaged in oral sex by the time they reach 18, and more than 45 percent have had intercourse at least once. More than 70 percent of young women and 80 percent of young men approve of premarital sex, according to a study published recently in the Review of General Psychology.

These statistics make it obvious that teenagers are having sex and are going to have sex, so as a society we need to make sure they are educated about what they are doing. In my opinion, the result of our failure to educate our young people about sex is ruining our society because we are just letting teen pregnancy happen.

Some people argue that social issues like this need to be left to parents, but I feel that as a society we must provide girls in particular with the education they need to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

An unwanted pregnancy can cause so many girls to fail to continue their education. I myself find it depressing to see how many girls from my high school graduating class aren’t enrolled in college. They key to earning an income that is above the poverty line is education.

Most mothers, and particularly single mothers, will tell you its very hard to raise a kid. Most college students will tell you that juggling the pressures of being in school is hard. Combining both is even more difficult.

I have a hard time seeing why women support abstinence only education. Sarah Palin in particular comes to mind. Her own daughter, Bristol, commented on the issue during a Fox News interview. She told Greta Van Susteren that teaching sexual abstinence to teenagers is “not realistic at all.” Bristol Palin said, “I hope people learn from my story. It’s so much easier if you’re married, have a house and career. It’s not a situation you want to strive for.”

She denied that her mother’s anti-abortion views were the reason she went ahead with the pregnancy. “It was my choice to have the baby,” she said. “It doesn’t matter what my mom’s views are on it. It was my decision.”

I am happy that she decided to keep the kid because it was her choice, and I am pro choice. If I were her, I would be telling my mom that I wanted her to change her stance on women’s rights.

I honestly don’t know what young girls are going to learn from her story. She is right when she says that it is easier if you’re married and have a house and career, which most young girls don’t have.

My personal opinion on solving any problem is simply education. While I’m not saying that abstinence only education is out of the question, my opinion is that if you are going to teach abstinence, you also need to educate girls and boys about using protection.

The main argument people use about teaching both is this idea that “they will be confused.” I say no, they won’t. Stressing the idea of waiting until you are ready is a good idea, but at the same time eventually young people will have sex.