Friday, December 18, 2009

The Sex Knowledge of Young People

A CNN article Gaps found in young people's sex knowledge discusses a recent study just published Tuesday, and was a survey of 1,800 people age 18 to 29, conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  It shows that "most sexually active unmarried young adults believe pregnancy should be planned, but about half do not use contraception regularly."

Hmm... could it be all the abstinence-only education?

From the article:
"Abstinence-only curriculums have gone explicitly out of their way to teach misconceptions about contraception," she said. "This generation of 20-somethings have missed many opportunities to get medically accurate and correct information."
"Many of the people surveyed said they did not know much about contraception to begin with -- 63 percent said they knew little or nothing about birth control pills, and 30 percent said they had scant knowledge about condoms."
And even if they have heard about it, they don't know where to get it or how to use it.

Abstinence-only education really gets my blood boiling. Abstinence-only education has proven to be misleading and ineffective at keeping people safe and healthy.

Under the Bush Administration, federal support for “abstinence-only” education programs expanded rapidly. Abstinence-only education promotes abstinence from sexual activity without teaching basic facts about contraception. They often hold that there is no such thing as safe premarital sex. The federal government spent approximately $170 million on abstinence-only education programs in 2005, more than twice the amount spent in 2001. As a result, abstinence-only education now reaches millions of children and adolescents each year. (The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs)

In a report conducted by the U.S. House of Representatives called The Content of Federally Funded Abstinence-Only Education Programs it was found that over 80% of the abstinence curricula contain false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health. According to the report, the curricula present false information as proven facts. For instance, one states that condoms are not effective in preventing the contraction of HIV, which is contrary to studies done by the Center for Disease Control that show that condoms are extremely effective. Another incorrectly lists sweat and tears as dangerous in HIV transmission.

Oh and I love this little fact:
"Myths about pregnancy and sexual activity continue to permeate circles of young people. For instance, 28 percent of men incorrectly believe they will get extra protection from wearing two condoms at once, a practice that actually leads to condom breakage. At the same time, 18 percent of men wrongly believe that having sex standing up reduces the chance that they will get a female partner pregnant."
"...about four in 10 respondents said it doesn't matter whether people use birth control, believing that people get pregnant when it's their "time."

And the point that must always be addressed...

Some people believe that teaching adolescents about sex and sexuality will encourage them to be sexually active earlier. There is little evidence that teens who participate in abstinence-only programs abstain from intercourse longer than others. It is known, however that when they do become sexually active, teens who received abstinence-only education often fail to use condoms or other contraceptives. This fact, declared by Planned Parenthood, has also been proven true by a study discussed in an article in the American Journal of Psychology. Researchers found that young people who took a virginity pledge were one-third less likely to use contraception when they did become sexually active than their peers who had not pledged."Comprehensive sexuality education that advocates abstinence yet provides education for those teens that choose to become sexually active has proven practical and effective.

Abstinence-plus education, which provides a range of information and options for young people from abstinence to safer sexual behavior, does not increase sexual activity or lower the age of a young person's first sexual encounter.  It provides true and useful information.

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