After more than a decade of decline, the United States saw its teen pregnancy rates increase in 2006, the first time in 14 years. This rise along with the vast lead the United States has held for years means the United States maintains its prestigious status of having the highest teen pregnancy rate of any developed nation with more than 5 % of teenagers (or at least the ones with uteruses) in the United States experiences the joys of getting knocked up sometime in their wtf-is-abstinence lives.
A cultural tradition of having sex but pretending we are not combined with the Bush Administrations official public policy to preach, I mean teach, teenagers about abstinence has created a country where teenagers don’t even have the joys of awkwardly stretching a condom over a banana; we are left with a country whose sexual education comprises of three often unheard words: “don’t do it.”
Although study after study showed Senor No Sexo Bush that abstinence-only sex ed didn’t delay teens from having sex, it took a rather sexy administration change to start funneling federal money back into REAL sex ed classes that actually talk about sex.
Finally after years of studies and countless MTV 16 and pregnant baby drama stories, the government is supporting independent programs that have proven statistics of convincing teens to wait. One such program is Michael Carrera’s sexual education program from New York featured on NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=127514185. Part of Carrera’s success is that he listened to the children in his community and gave them honest answers. Now starting in 5th grade, because Carrera found that by high school students’ misconceptions on gender and sex were too hardened, kids in Brooklyn get an early education about what it is to be a boy or a girl and what it means to be in a relationship.
Carrera’s program extends into high school where students are taught the ABC’s (along with some XYZ’s) about sex as well as given work opportunities and chances to explore other hobbies. One of the brilliances of Carrera’s program is he recognizes when teens have something other to do than sex and when teens have more of a future than just having babies, the beautiful natural occurring selfishness of teens will flourish and they will delay sex and the risk of screaming children that suck away all their time to play video games.
For many who have been horny teens this is all obvious. Teens want and will have sex but they will put off the shoving a watermelon-sized child out of them if they know how to prevent it. Still the “morals” of the minority often inhibit the knowledge of everyone and there is no insurance that the next administration change might be less sexy and more abstinencey. Currently in Chicago there is a group called RHAA working to ensure that all teens get adequate sex education. To join the cause or learn more about the organization check out their website at: http://www.illinoisreproductivehealth.org/?page_id=266.