For many years now a problem has been brewing that has led to the growing rise of unintended pregnancy and the spread of STIs among young adults. That problem is one that stemmed from a lack of access to comprehensive sexual education. And instead of continuing to address this problem in the correct and responsible manner as we saw it unfolding, the dialog was hijacked by the right. So we attacked the issue by adding dangerous new fuel to the fire in the way of abstinence-only educational programs forced into the school system. Today we need only look around the blogosphere to hear stunning and unnerving declaration after stunning and unnerving declaration that we are still suffering through the damaging impacts of this public sexual miseducation.
As reported by the Guttmacher Institute in January of 2010:
The significant drop in teen pregnancy rates in the 1990s was overwhelmingly the result of more and better use of contraceptives among sexually active teens. However, this decline started to stall out in the early 2000s, at the same time that sex education programs aimed exclusively at promoting abstinence—and prohibited by law from discussing the benefits of contraception—became increasingly widespread and teens’ use of contraceptives declined.
So initially progress was being made, however it did not satisfy the right, who saw sex-ed as providing kids with an open license for promiscuity and the means to protect themselves while engaging in unwholesome behavior. So they sought to change the direction of this educational path, and steer things towards a place where their moral compass more comfortably guided them. Believing this would be the better, moral way forward. However, there were those more reasonably looking at this situation who believed that we needed to deviate away from this new tactic that was proving more harmful than helpful.
“It is too soon to tell whether the increase in the teen pregnancy rate between 2005 and 2006 is a short term fluctuation, a more lasting stabilization or the beginning of a significant new trend, any of which would be of great concern,” says Lawrence Finer, Guttmacher’s director of domestic research. “Either way, it is clearly time to redouble our efforts to make sure our young people have the information, interpersonal skills and health services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to become sexually healthy adults.”
But unfortunately, for so many, the damage is already done. Though many of the nation’s schools have opted to break from the restrictive, inaccurate abstinence-only education curricula for a more factual and reasoned approach, so many students graduated under the deadly precepts relayed to them through this stunted educational system. They have gone out into the world as adults armed with this misinformation that not only makes them vulnerable, it makes them somewhat dangerous. According to the Waxman Report, the federal government’s assessment of these abstinence-only programs:
Under the Bush Administration, federal support for abstinence-only education has risen dramatically. This report finds that over two-thirds of abstinence-only education programs funded by the largest federal abstinence initiative are using curricula with multiple scientific and medical inaccuracies. These curricula contain misinformation about condoms, abortion, and basic scientific facts. They also blur religion and science and present gender stereotypes as fact.
Now we have a segment of the public that needs to be re-educated on these matters, but how? Once the schools have planted those seeds, it is not an easy task to completely uproot these polluted growths of misinformed data, and get the people to see that they were purposely misled and lied to. We need an Abstinence-Only Educated Public Recall to be highlighted and pushed via the media, so that at least we can start getting the word out there that anyone who was subjected to these programs in school needs to get themselves re-educated on sexual matters post haste. For their own protection and for the safety and well being of others.
And though we may have forced most of these harmful programs from our schools, these same moral crusaders who have already derailed the progress we were making with comprehensive sex-ed, are still attempting to further pollute the public’s pool of knowledge when it comes to abortion. How is it, that we are still allowing such tainted and dangerous information to be so carelessly forced on the public under the guise of what is right and what is moral? How is it that these abuses are not being more widely challenged? Surely the truly moral act would be to provide people with the facts that will keep them safe and sound.
Bottom line, when we allow the public to be purposely miseducated to direct them towards an agenda and outcome decided by others, then we are not only distrusting them with the truth, but we are truly doing the public and our future a damaging disservice. Giving rise to a problem that will be far harder to correct, than it was to create.