Which is more effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies: abstinence education or conception education?
A recent article on cnn.com talked about the gaps in teen knowledge about sex, and their dangerous sexual practices as a result of their ignorance. The article attributed this lack of knowledge and misinformation to a recent focus on abstinence in education rather than teaching about contraception. Some of the misconceptions they found:
- 27% of women and 34% of men reported a belief that contraception would cause cancer (or other life-threatening side effects); as a result, many avoided using contraception
- 63% stated they knew nothing about oral contraceptives (“the pill”)
- 30% had little knowledge of condoms, including not knowing how to use one; 28% of men believed using two condoms provided extra protection (when in reality this “princess and the pea” approach causes breakage)
- 18% of men believed that vertical sex reduced the likelihood of pregnancy
- 40% of respondents fatalistically believed that contraception was irrelevant, that people get pregnant “when it’s their time” (I assume that means just those who are sexually active. What if it’s “your time,” but you aren’t having sex?)
- 32% believed that the government encourages birth control to limit minority populations. (I wonder how much of this group also believes the moon launch was faked.)
- nearly half of respondents believe that pharmaceutical companies don’t care about side effects, only about making money
The obvious next thought I had after reading this article was: These are the people who are parenting the next generation of kids. And much sooner than they think.
Art imitates life. A popular TV show new in 2009 is Glee, the story of an Ohio high school’s show choir. Main characters in the show exemplify some of these sexual misconceptions and seem to be a not-so-subtle indictment of abstinence-based sex education:
- Quinn, the teen president of the Celibacy Club becomes pregnant.
- She convinces her boyfriend Finn that he is the father although they’ve never had sex because they had a racy make out session in a hot tub. And he believes her!
- The male students admit that they only joined the Celibacy Club to hook up with the girls.
- The female students have a secret motto: “It’s all about the teasing, not the pleasing.”
- A further dig is made at the “abstinence” crowd as Quinn’s baby bump is noticed (and overlooked) by her mother as she helps her prepare for a Purity Ball (a daddy-daughter dance to celebrate the daughter’s commitment to celibacy). When her pregnancy is revealed (in song, no less), her parents kick her out of the house and their lives.
- Their teacher is equally ignorant. His wife convinces him she’s pregnant (when she’s not). She also tells him she knows the sex of the baby at 10 weeks (which is not possible, but he doesn’t know any better). She also convinces him that he can’t touch her stomach or have sex with her without harming the baby.
So, time for some poll questions to see what you think about sex education.[poll id=”89″] [poll id=”90″] [poll id=”91″]