Posts Tagged ‘Sex education’

Teen Sex: Abstinence Programs Aren’t Helping — And They Can Hurt

Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Virginity RocksIt sounds good, all that "just say no" talk when it comes to encouraging teens to abstain from sex. But is it realistic? And could it be doing more harm than good?

Johns Hopkins University researcher Janet Rosenbaum has been looking at nearly 1,000 teens who took an abstinence pledge. She compared them with teens of similar beliefs and backgrounds who didn't.

Rosenbaum found no difference in the teens' sexual behavior, the age when they began having sex or the number of partners they had.

Well, there was one difference: The group that promised to abstain from sex was much less likely to use birth control, particularly condoms, when they did have sex. Currently, six in 10 teens have sex before they leave high school and 730,000 teen girls get pregnant each year.

If a kid feels that carrying a condom and talking with his girlfriend about birth control — and disease prevention — means he's "planning to do it," kids who take abstinence pledges will probably skip the conversation. They'll most certainly skip the trip to the drugstore.

Perhaps it's a bit less guilt-inducing if teen sex "just happens" in the heat of the moment. But that's how babies are made, kids. And that's how herpes, HPV and HIV get passed along.

I have no doubt that the kids taking that pledge mean it with all their hearts. And I'm sure it makes many parents feel that somehow their kids are safe. But the research says otherwise. And we can't afford to stick our heads in the sand on this one.

Sex Ed Helps Teens Delay First Intercourse

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008

The title of this post doesn't pull any punches. And that's deliberate. I want those search engines to pick up on "teens," "sex," and "intercourse" so as many parents (and teens) as possible will hear this important message:

Sex education greatly boosts the likelihood that teens will delay having intercourse. That's the word from a study of 2,019 teenagers, ages 15 to 19 years, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Teenage boys who received sex education in school were 71 percent less likely — and similarly educated teen girls were 59 percent less likely — to have sexual intercourse before age 15.

The boys were more than twice as likely to use birth control the first time they had intercourse if they had been in sex-education classes in school.

“Sex education seems to be working,” says study lead author Trisha Mueller, an epidemiologiMountain Dew Baja Blast - Pepsi-Cola bought with the CDC. “It seems to be especially effective for populations that are usually at high risk.”

Sex education remains important because kids still harbor “mythology” about sex, says Claire Brindis, interim director of the Philip R. Lee Institute for
Health Policy Studies at the University of California at San Francisco. “Some still believe you can’t get pregnant if you’re standing up or doing it for the first time or if your boyfriend is drinking a lot of Mountain Dew."

“A lot of sex education is about the plumbing — teaching them about anatomy and physiology, what a condom looks like,” Brindis says. “What they really need help on is: ‘I’m in the back seat or I’m at a party, and there aren’t adults around and there’s pressure to do more than make out.’ They need help with ‘What do I do in that setting?’”

Mommy, Where Did I Come From?

Monday, June 30th, 2008

Thirteen years ago, when I found out I was pregnant with my first
child, my thoughts hopscotched from thankfulness to relief to my
friends’ less-than-comforting episiotomy tales — finally resting, one
night at 2 a.m., on the prospect of a little boy coming home from
school with a superhero lunch box and a question: “Where do babies come
Today that little boy, Matthew, who was conceived through in vitro
fertilization, is a seventh grader and taller than me. He knows where
babies come from. He even knows the basics of IVF and acknowledges the
fact that his very existence is a miracle of modern medicine with the
same less-than-gee-whiz attitude he has about the fact that he can
search Google to access the world. To a 12-year-old living in 2008, all
this amazing (to his parents, anyway) technology isn’t that, well,

So it might be time to share more than just “the facts” of my son’s
conception with him. Because even though thousands of IVF babies are
now born in the U.S. every year, for each family, it’s a different
story, each one filled with hope, fear, faith and even (believe me,
it’s necessary!) a sense of the ridiculous.

I could describe to Matthew how, upon seeing the blue dot on the
cardboard ovulation-prediction card, I danced around the bathroom,
surrounded by little cups of urine and bottles of “activator,”
celebrating that first tiny step toward motherhood.
How, when I told my pharmacist (who had assisted us in our “science
project,” ordering ovulation-predictor kits, ovulation-suppression
drugs to control my cycle, ovulation-stimulation drugs and more
syringes that I care to remember), “I’m pregnant. Thanks for your
help!” the other customers in the store snickered just a bit.
I could tell him how, even though I appreciated having the option of
IVF, a part of me yearned to create a baby the way my parents,
grandparents and every other generation in my family had always made
babies: the old-fashioned way.
How his daddy practiced sticking needles into an orange — said to
resemble the flesh on my backside, thank you very much — to learn how
to give me hormone injections that would stimulate egg production.
I could describe how his father mapped out, ahead of time, our entire
route home from the medical center, noting every bump and pot hole. And
how Randy filled our car’s passenger seat with pillows so that we could
gingerly make our way home after the embryo transfer without disturbing
what we hoped was a miracle happening inside of me.
And I could explain how, through the process of making a baby with the
help of strangers, his daddy and I developed a sense of humor that got
us through experiences such as Randy’s trip to the “donation room” and
my hour spent on the “tilt table,” my feet higher than my head, after
the fertilized eggs were placed in my uterus.
What I most want Matthew to know is that he was wanted as much as any
child has ever been wanted. That while his conception was far from a
private act, it was filled with great reverence and love. I want to
tell him that lying in bed at home and holding hands with his daddy the
night after my eggs were retrieved — while praying that a strong,
healthy embryo was forming eight miles away in that petri dish — was
one of the most moving experiences of my life.
I want him to be able to picture his father experiencing something that
most dads will never get to do: Standing in a quiet, darkened room
while looking through a microscope and seeing the six fat cells that
would become his son, just before the doctor placed those cells inside
And I want him to know that my heart nearly burst as I watched him sing
“One Small Child, One Tiny Child” with the children’s choir at
Christmas when he was only five years old. Because I couldn’t help but
remember that bringing our own small child home from the hospital, on
Christmas Day 1995, was the most incredible gift his daddy and I will
ever receive.
Yes, Matthew has outgrown superhero lunch boxes. And he’s got even the
high-tech birds-and-bees stuff figured out. But his dad and I want him
to know more than just “the facts.” We want him to understand his
family’s own special story of how he came into our lives — everything
from his mom doin’ the happy dance in the bathroom to his dad lovingly
placing all those pillows just so. Most of all, we want Matthew to know
that while he came to us with more than a little help from modern
medicine — he also came straight from our hearts. And that’s something
he just won’t find on Google.