This past week a new study conducted at Oxford University in the UK came out, showing the link between abstinence only sex education and no positive prevention of HIV infection in first world countries. Surprise…surprise. (The British Medical Journal study is linked here: http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/335/7613/248).
As most people understand, abstinence is the best possible method to prevent HIV, STDs, teen pregnancy, and a slew of other problems that pop up when young, immature people decide to get down. But it stymies the senses why some in the wealthiest nations, which breed on options and the availability of multiple choices in every aspect of their lives, don’t understand the reasons why this form of Sex Ed is not effective. If everyone always made the most responsible, informed choices, then there would be no need for any other Sex Ed than abstinence only. And if the best possible choices were always made, there would also be no need for the army, Howard Stern on satellite radio, crispy crème donuts, or tattoo parlors. But alas, we all harbor our own little mischievous fetishes - and they're usually what make us unique and stunningly quirky, even if a bit risqué.
When health experts dole out advice to people about nutrition, they are usually realistic. Not everyone is going to abstain from junk food, and exercise for at least thirty minutes six times a week. So when faced with lazy people, the experts compromise, they don't throw up their hands and see it as a lost cause, usually. They give alternatives, options to make people focus on some healthy practices. At least that way, people will be better equipped to make smart decisions when it matters.
If adults can't always stick to regimens, how can we expect young, impressionable people to? So why not acknowledge that fact, and at least give them the respect of recognizing they deserve the knowledge and the tools that will set them on the right course, and not allow them to stray too far off it? If they're going to have the occasional slip in judgment, at least give them the option to walk away from it without lasting physical affects.
The study concludes the best option is abstinence "plus" programs, which tout abstinence as best, but also provides vital information on preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. We are a nation of option-seekers, and to deny these options would be chaos. If we deny options, teens will inevitably go out and find their own. And that kind of self-education is truly daunting.