Comprehensive sex ed helps kids have unsafe sex

A recent report published by U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman of California states that abstinence programs are subjecting teens to “false and misleading information” about sex. Among other complaints, the report critiques one program’s claim that it takes 24 chromosomes from both parents to create a child. (The correct answer is 23 from each.)

Sound the alarm bells! The hayseeds from the red states want to outlaw sex.

The implication of the Waxman report is that abstinence education is deficient. In one sense, that is partially true. Sex education should be taught by involved parents, not schools. Abstinence education may be far from perfect, but at least it tells kids to do what’s right—wait to have sex.

Who can deny the dangers of premature sex for kids? The rates of depression and suicide are disproportionately higher among sexually active kids. They also are more likely to smoke and use drugs.

As parents, we know that kids strive to meet the expectations we set for them. Yet, what is Waxman’s message? That abstinence programs leave kids to face STDs and pregnancies without enough information.

Question 1: What are the chances of having an unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease (STD) by abstaining from sex?

Answer: Zero.

Question 2: What are the chances of having an unintended pregnancy or STD by engaging in sexual activity?

Answer: A whole lot more than zero.

Who can deny the logic (or lack thereof) that lies behind the push for comprehensive sex education in the name of safety? Yet, Waxman apparently believes abstinence education is part of the problem.

In 2002, the federal government spent more money on contraception education than abstinence education by a ratio 12:1. That is, for every $12 spent promoting condom use, it spent $1 to encourage abstinence. And, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there’s a decrease in the number of teens who were sexually active from 1991 to 2003, from 54.1 to 46.7 percent. Given the increase in abstinence education, can’t it at least get some of the credit for this?

The combination of these factors suggests that abstinence education is at least equal to, if not better, than the so-called comprehensive sex education programs that Waxman and company seem to prefer.

For example, the Planned Parenthood style of education tells teens that if they choose to engage in sexual activity, they should use protection. That would be the almighty condom. Every “suggestion” on its Web site ends with: “And use a condom.”

And if that fails, well, there’s always the local abortion mill or the local hospice—consequences suspiciously missing among Planned Parenthood’s suggestions.

Of course, if condoms were truly effective at reducing STDs, then, as condom use goes up, STDs should go down. According to Consumer Reports Magazine, “HIV infects 110 Americans each day, at least half of them younger than 25.” Let’s be honest: The “safe-sex” message is a lie.

If kids are subjected to programs that say, “We know you’re going to have sex,” why should we be surprised when they do? Yet, if we tell them we expect them to abstain, shouldn’t we expect many of them to do just that?

When it comes to topics such as smoking and drug abuse, there is no hesitation that the message is an unambiguous, “No!” Kids are told in no uncertain terms that they shouldn’t do it. Yet if I suggested, “Kids are going to drink any way; let’s show them how they can minimize the effects of a hangover,” I’d be locked up.

Perhaps I should suggest that since kids will inevitably experiment with drugs, we should provide a way to test the purity of cocaine or their next heroin injection?

Surely, "safe drug use" is preferable to the alternative.