Abstinence-Only Sex Ed is Over

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As a teen, I was taught abstinence-only sex education. I pledged purity, and I made it known to all the boys around me. In my freshman year of high school, I was even voted “Most Likely to Wait Until Marriage” by my peers. The very next year, at age 15, I became pregnant.


Today, nearly half of American high schoolers, aged 14 to 18, are sexually active, according to a Centers for Disease Control survey. Even Christians aren’t waiting until marriage. Among unmarried adult evangelicals under 30, 8 in 10 have had sex.

Somebody has to say it: Our approach isn’t working, and it’s time to rethink “the talk.” It’s time to expand the conversation into territory where many evangelical parents dare not go.

The familiar Christian parenting mantra of Proverbs 22:6 tells us that if we “start children off on the way they should go, when they are old they will not turn from it.” For sex education, many evangelical moms and dads hold to this verse, teaching their kids to “just say no” and trusting they’ll stick to it.

Written By: Jamie Calloway-Hanauer
continue to source article at sojo.net

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  1. It’s the “be chaste because God demands it” that is so dumb. Totally apart from the non-existence of that god, the parents are pitting powerful adolescent hormones against a dreary dogma at a time when the kid is beginning to find her own way. It seems to me that abstinence or promiscuity (and everything in between) is conditioned by the overall culture the person moves in, and in the west, that culture is thoroughly sexualized. Thus, the only way to protect a child from STD and pregnancy is to admit that the pressures are there, and that you hope she/he will be able to resist them, and if reality overcomes you, then AT LEAST do the following. The insistence on abstinence PERIOD is obviously intended to protect the kid from sin, NOT from disease or pregnancy. And as every human being on the face of the earth knows, sin is very attractive.

  2. Even as a well-sinned out atheist, I should add that there is a case to be made for abstinence, namely the dangers, even with contraception, of intense emotional involvements, jealousies, tumultuous passions leading to teen marriage, etc. I would hate to think of a child of mine getting married before finishing college or professional training. For girls, especially, this is too often the road to arrested intellectual development and servitude to the house.

    • In reply to #3 by justinesaracen:

      Even as a well-sinned out atheist, I should add that there is a case to be made for abstinence, namely the dangers, even with contraception, of intense emotional involvements, jealousies, tumultuous passions leading to teen marriage, etc. I would hate to think of a child of mine getting married befo…

      I think a good balance is in order. Certainly a pregnant thirteen-year-old is challenging situation. The earlier a girl becomes sexually active, the more likely she is to have cervical cancer as an adult. Emotionally, they are still children. Even a fifteen-year-old may not be able to handle some of the emotions or feel pressured by peers. Kids need to be taught to discern a “good egg from a bad one” Could they imagine that person being a co-parent if something were to occur? Do they really want to drag around a kid while their peer are having fun at parties? Kids need to be taught ALL the option including birth control and discernment.

  3. This is a fair example of the process of evolution. It is almost too obvious to say the desire to reproduce is a powerful adaptation but it drives animal behaviour to extraordinary levels. If sex wasn’t desirable the cost i.e. effort expended in the mating game would have ensured the demise of many species long ago and not just ours. No surprise to me that it can sway a person’s behaviour contrary to religious ideals.

  4. the problem is these are 2 issues being addressed in 1 conversation.

    1. abstinence. this is what god wants, it’s also what many parents want for a number of reasons such as not wanting kids to grow up too soon, not wanting their children to bring shame on the family, or in some cases more caring reasons such as not wanting them to go through problems their parents did.

    2. safe sex. this is about letting go and helping your child to take care of themselves, it covers issues like health, emotions and all the awkward growing up questions.

    this is why religious parents are scared they’re giving mixed messages. they are, if you’re telling someone this is what you must/mustn’t do you’re treating them like they are in some subservient, if you’re giving them facts you’re sharing knowledge as an equal.

    the vagueness of the mixed message “you mustn’t do this, but if you do…” also sends the message that the parent/child reltionship is over. if you fail to meet my expectations, i don’t want to know about it. this is one of the wedges that leads to most families in my experience being of parents who claim to know their kids better than they know themselves and kids who claim their parents don’t know them. the only usefull lesson kids learn is how to hide the truth, which they’ll need to keep the cycle going when they’re parents

  5. In the Bush era, it was proved that abstinence only sex education was worse than no sex education at all. He persisted, nevertheless in banning condom education in parts of Africa in favour of abstinence-only education, adding to the rolls of people he murdered with his pen.

    Why is this failure so obvious. Horniness becomes ever stronger the more it is suppressed. It almost always eventually wins out. It is deeply programmed into our genes. There is no desire stronger other than survival. After abstinence fails, now what? With abstinence only, you have no tools. With condom-education, there is another layer of protection.

    The crazy notion that the abstinence only people have is they are afraid of increasing the desire for sex. What a grandiose notion! That is controlled by hormones, not religious homilies.

    • In reply to #10 by Roedy:

      Horniness becomes ever stronger the more it is suppressed. It almost always eventually wins out. It is deeply programmed into our genes. There is no desire stronger other than survival.

      I don’t think anyone is talking about advising someone to abstain from sex for their whole lives unless they choose to. We’re talking about someone abstaining from sex in situations where it may not be to their (or their partner’s) long-term benefit.

      Incidentally, what about those people whose sexual desires cannot be legally met (e.g. sexually attracted to children or animals). Is it almost inevitable that they will give in to that desire?

  6. That articles shows perfectly that the bible can be cherry picked to support ANY point of view. You can find many verses that support abstinence, and you can find many verses that support honesty – and science tells us that honesty and real information decreases teenage pregnancy. I don’t care if older teens are having sex as long as they are being “careful” and safe.

  7. I always hate it when this debate rears its ugly head, but think it is an important one. Hate it because the pendulum seems to swing between religious abstinence till marriage and fierce sexual pressures to say yes on emotionally unready adolescents with no healthy middle ground.

    The truth of the matter is what most parents (myself included) want is their children taught about are healthy relationships where sex, whether as part of a relationship or one night stand, is the result of full consent and respect for the wishes of the other to engage or not engage.. And what most teachers (myself included) are struggling with is presenting that in a atmosphere of religious lunacy on one side and newly unhealthily sexualised childhoods on the other. We’ve had help from absolutely brilliant organisations like Stonewell etc to help us recognise and stamp on homophobic or racist bullying. What we haven’t had at all is help to recognise sexual bullying and new pressures on children we never had to deal with.

    The fact of the matter is – that teenagers are fascinated by sex but not emotionally ready for it in many cases. The biggest indicator, for example, of whether a girl will engage in underage sex is the education of her mother. The higher the academic qualifications of the mother the less likely underage sex. There is no doubt now that children are bullied or coerced or pressurised by what they see around them into growing up to soon. The result is not healthy. But neither is the religious loony tunes polar opposite. So I guess it is time to have the debate sensibly, including greater regulation of what children get to see. That includes debates about ensuring porn is not available to chidren and sexualised imagery in music and magazines are subjected to the same watershed or top shelf rules as things like swearing and violence. In short it is time to recognise that sex is healthy, wholesome and fun if you’re old enough. And an emotional minefield if you’re not.

  8. Abstinence may not be easy, but that’s no reason not to promote it.

    Thirty years of condom promotion in this country have left it with one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe. While the use of condoms has its place, one of the unwanted side-effects of aggressively promoting them has been to suggest that they allow those engaging in sex to avoid any responsibility associated with the act (including, it would seem, the very wearing of them in the first place).

    Young people need to be taught that, like alcohol, sex is something that brings responsibility as well as pleasure. A condom cannot shield a person from all these responsibilities, particularly those of an emotional nature. Incidentally, the rush to get to fourth base also means that the pleasures of first, second and third base are foolishly wasted.

    There are many situations when abstinence is the most appropriate course of action. Consider a child who is too immature to understand sex; a single adult who can’t find a consensual sexual partner; a married person whose partner “isn’t in the mood” that night; a person in a committed relationship who has to be apart from their partner for extended periods of time. If we tell teenagers that abstinence is an unrealistic expectation, how can we expect them to exercise maturity when they find that sex isn’t instantly available on demand?

    Finally, abstinence may not be easy or fashionable, but it is certainly not impossible. I was a virgin until my wedding night at the age of 28 and have absolutely no regrets about that decision. I find it sad that, instead of celebrating virginity, society goes to such lengths to treat it as something old-fashioned, unachievable or even shameful.

    • In reply to #14 by Humbug:

      Abstinence may not be easy, but that’s no reason not to promote it.

      You are using a common trick of trying to reframe the debate. The issue is not whether adolescents should be encouraged to be responsible about sex the issue is that they should also be told the basic facts about how to use contraception when the time comes. That is part of what any rational adult means by “being responsible”.

      You can do both. I did both, I encouraged my daughter to refrain from sex until she was older (I think the words of wisdom were something along the lines of “boys your age are all rutting dogs interested in only one thing,… I know because I used to be one”) but I also made sure she knew about contraception.

      Thirty years of condom promotion in this country have left it with one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe.

      Evidence? I hadn’t heard that. But there is overwhelming evidence that Abstinence Only Does Not Work! Just Google “abstinence only doesn’t work” but as some examples:

      Teen Pregnancies Highest In States With Abstinence-Only Policies and Report: Evidence shows abstinence programs don’t work

      Note that second source is from The State Journal: West Virginia’s Only Business Newspaper, not exactly a left wing source.

      While the use of condoms has its place, one of the unwanted side-effects of aggressively promoting them has been to suggest that they allow those engaging in sex to avoid any responsibility associated with the act (including, it would seem, the very wearing of them in the first place).

      So you are saying that teaching kids about condoms leads to them just having sex wildly and then deciding not to use condoms to boot? Come on get serious.

      Young people need to be taught that, like alcohol, sex is something that brings responsibility as well as pleasure.

      I agree totally. You can teach them that and still teach them that when they do decide to have sex how to use the appropriate protection.

      A condom cannot shield a person from all these responsibilities, particularly those of an emotional nature. Incidentally, the rush to get to fourth base also means that the pleasures of first, second and third base are foolishly wasted.

      Fourth base? Really, you can’t even talk about sex without using some silly metaphor that equates getting a woman to have intercourse with scoring in a baseball game? And BTW, its called home plate.

      The whole way you talk is mired in a mind set that sex is something dirty that we need to shield kids from as long as possible. Its not. Its beautiful when its done with love and that takes emotional maturity and children aren’t idiots, they can understand things like that when communicated honestly and directly.

      • In reply to #20 by Red Dog:

        Evidence [ that 30 years of condom promotion in this country have left it with one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe]? I hadn’t heard that.

        According to UK government statistics quoted by FPA, the sexual health charity, as at August 2010 the UK had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy and abortion rates in Western Europe. (see http://www.fpa.org.uk/factsheets/teenage-pregnancy#1)

        Condoms have been actively and successfully promoted in this country for nearly thirty years. Why, then, aren’t teenagers using them?

        • In reply to #32 by Humbug:

          In reply to #20 by Red Dog:

          Evidence [ that 30 years of condom promotion in this country have left it with one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe]? I hadn’t heard that.

          According to UK government statistics quoted by FPA, the sexual health charity, as at August 2010 the UK had the…

          Thanks for the link. I didn’t look at the data in depth but from a quick look it seemed valid. But I don’t really see what point it makes. So there is a problem with UK teens compared to the rest of Europe. The links I provided earlier or as I said just google “abstinence only doesn’t work” and see overwhelming evidence that abstinence only education clearly does not work at all in preventing teen pregnancies. It either has no effect compared to no sex education or in some studies I’ve seen even seems to have a negative effect, i.e. teen girls who get some forms of abstinence only education are more likely to get pregnant out of wedlock than teen girls with no sex ed at all.

          If you are saying that teaching about contraception alone is not enough we are in agreement. Teens in modern industrialized nations are bombarded with sex in their daily lives and with images of women as sex objects. I completely agree that emphasizing the importance of emotional maturity, love, commitment, etc. is an essential part of complete sexual education. I also don’t agree with the views advocated by others here that choosing abstinence is by definition something people should feel shame about, in fact I think that is a ridiculous thing to say. But if you are saying that teaching abstinence only is the better approach that clearly isn’t supported by the data and the fact that the UK has a teen pregnancy problem compared to Europe doesn’t say otherwise.

        • In reply to #32 by Humbug:

          Condoms have been actively and successfully promoted in this country for nearly thirty years. Why, then, aren’t teenagers using them?

          UK sex ed is fairly appalling. It starts too late, is partial, and treated like some dangerous topic requiring its separation from other lessons. Scandiwegia gets it right, starts early, treats the subject comprehensively, and helps kids become thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the subject. Love and sex is not scary, its normal. The result? The lowest teen pregnancy abortion and STD rates on the planet.

          Providing condoms without thoroughly normalising sex and putting it in its various contexts, to the point of making it prosaic is to glamorise it. Christianity poisoned that metaphorical apple of theirs, creating the inappropriate allure of Forbidden Fruit. The US (and to a lesser extent the UK) suffer the snickery consequences to this day.

          Perhaps we’ll be allowed to grow up one day.

        • In reply to #32 by Humbug:

          In reply to #20 by Red Dog:

          Evidence [ that 30 years of condom promotion in this country have left it with one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in Europe]? I hadn’t heard that.

          According to UK government statistics quoted by FPA, the sexual health charity, as at August 2010 the UK had the…

          Because there are other factors to safe sex other than education?
          If you are implying that safe sex education causes teenage pregnancy you have to explain away all the countries that have low pregnancy rates and educate on condom use. And the countries with very high rates and no sex ed.

          I agree that nobody should be pressurised into having sex if they don’t feel ready for it (particularly girls ) but I don’t agree with you continually stating that sex has to occur between two people who are in a committed relationship.
          Responsible adults can have fun with each other without an expectation their is some sort of long term relationship. I don’t think that it is unhealthy, irresponsible or empty. Is sex better in a long term relationship or just different? If you end up with just one sexual partner in your life how would you know how compatible you are?

          You stayed a virgin till you were 28 – great for you but you seem to be putting your own preferences forward as the ideal, which I don’t think it is. I don’t understand why we should celebrate virginity any more than we should celebrate people who fast.

          • I agree that nobody should be pressurised into having sex if they don’t feel ready for it (particularly girls )

            Particularly girls? Do you mean particularly people with female bodies? What if the person is a female to male transgender who still has reproductive capacities? Or a male to female transgender?

            And yes, I agree, that celebrating virginity is silly. How about celebrating people living their lives in the way that’s right for them?

    • In reply to #14 by Humbug:
      “…. but it (abstinence) is certainly not impossible. I was a virgin until my wedding night at the age of 28 and have absolutely no regrets about that decision. I find it sad that, instead of celebrating virginity, society goes to such lengths to treat it as something old-fashioned, unachievable or even shameful.”

      I do not get what is there to celebrate in preserving virginity, or, a lack of it? That is what Asian cultures do: “preserve virginity until marriage”. And, they are fairly successful in it. But the price as a country and a culture pay is: extreme form of rape, honor killing, guilt, abuse (i know of sexual assaults in India where the only pragmatic course for a woman is to keep silence about it; i am refering to Deoband’s ruling that a muslim woman having raped by her father in law was advised to marry him!!) and unwanted marriages.
      I was virgin until 28 but possibly unlike yourself, it was a result of coercion and unavailability. The outcome: a guilt-ridden masturbation and mus-conceptions about the fairer sex….

      My answer to the situation is (following Bertrand Russel):Lets treat sex (at individual and society level) as one treats other human emotions and need such as hunger and expression of non-sexual love and emotions…..Nobel-laureates like VS Naipual are votaries of sex-trade to my understanding…Lets deal with it under utilitarian philosophy of Peter Singer ( i know how he deals with the subject of human/animal suffering; i reckon his position would be to maximize the pleasure-value of the sex for the parties involved, with the minimum of long-term -ve implication).

      • In reply to #21 by RSingh:

        I do not get what is there to celebrate in preserving virginity, or, a lack of it?

        The initial impetus for it is almost certainly genetic and relates to women not men. Speaking from a perspective of selfish genes there is no way for a man to be certain that a woman is pregnant with his child. And one of the worst things he can do (strictly from a selfish gene perspective) is to invest energy into raising a child that doesn’t replicate his genes. So for a man looking for a mate virginity is highly desirable. It means the woman is not already pregnant with a child that isn’t his. Pinker talks about this at length in How the Mind Works.

        As far as virginity goes these days I think its ridiculous to care either way. If you want to hold off waiting for the special person that is great. If you want to have sex all the time that is fine too as long as you do it responsibly. The idea that virginity has to be celebrated is just a holdover from our hunter gatherer days. And in spite of what people may say on these comment threads in the real world its only women that are lauded for being virgins. Men are encouraged to have as much sex as possible, again consistent with the logical survival strategy for hunter gatherer selfish male genes.

        • In reply to #22 by Red Dog:

          As far as virginity goes these days I think its ridiculous to care either way. If you want to hold off waiting for the special person that is great.

          There’s no such thing as virginity.

      • In reply to #21 by RSingh:

        I do not get what is there to celebrate in preserving virginity, or, a lack of it?

        I’m not arguing that virginity is something that should be preserved for its own sake, but that people abstain from sex until they are ready to deal with its repercussions. There is likely to be a time when a person is physically sexually mature but is not yet ready for the emotional implications of a sexual relationship, or has not found the right person with whom to embark on this journey.

        Many of the posts here seem to imply that it’s healthier to be sexually active, even if that means multiple partners in emotionally complex situations, rather than attempt to abstain from sexual intimacy until an appropriate time.

    • In reply to #14 by Humbug:

      There are many situations when abstinence is the most appropriate course of action. Consider … a single adult who can’t find a consensual sexual partner.

      I don’t follow your logic here. For an “adult who can’t find a consensual sexual partner”, abstinence is a consequence of not being able to find a sex partner, not a “course of action” which implies that the person has a choice. Unless you mean (but are afraid to articulate openly):

      1. Resisting the urge to hire the services of a sex worker
      2. Resisting the urge to masturbate

      In which case, I find your whole attitude towards sex not only unhealthy but completely unrealistic. Sexual desire is a biological imperative and when that need is not met, serious psychological problems and social stigma is sure to follow. Plus, there’s an additional perverse and cruel side effect to not “not getting laid” (at least for men). The more needy you become, the less attractive you are to the opposite sex, and your odds of finding a partner decrease even more.

      An adult who can’t find a consensual sex partner is the LAST person who should “abstain until marriage”. In fact that person shouldn’t get married at all because chances are that person will get married out of desperation to get sex and almost surely end up with the wrong person. Sexual deprivation seriously impairs one’s judgment (especially us men) and is fertile ground for cognitive illusions.

      People should get comfortable with their sexuality BEFORE they get married if they want their relationship to have any chance of success. And some people are not meant to be married or even be in a relationship at all. And sadly, some people are incapable of attracting the opposite sex. But all of the above have in thing in common: they ALL need sex because they’re HUMAN.

      • In reply to #24 by NearlyNakedApe:

        An adult who can’t find a consensual sex partner is the LAST person who should “abstain until marriage”. In fact that person shouldn’t get married at all because chances are that person will get married out of desperation to get sex and almost surely end up with the wrong person. Sexual deprivation seriously impairs one’s judgment (especially us men) and is fertile ground for cognitive illusions.

        I think its highly presumptuous for anyone to make such sweeping generalizations and to think that they have the knowledge or right to tell someone else when or with whom they should have sex. This is what I find so amazing about some New Atheists, they end up being just as judgemental as theists, just in the opposite directions. Its no one’s business if someone else decides they do or don’t want to have sex. That goes both for people who want to stop everyone else from having sex before marriage but also those who want to pressure others into feeling they have to have a sexual partner to have a complete life.

        • In reply to #25 by Red Dog:

          I think its highly presumptuous for anyone to make such sweeping generalizations and to think that they have the knowledge or right to tell someone else when or with whom they should have sex.

          Well sorry to break the news to you but that’s pretty much what everybody is doing in this thread including yourself. The only reason you qualify my suggestions and opinions as “sweeping generalizations” and “presumptuous” is because they’re not in line with yours.

          This is what I find so amazing about some New Atheists, they end up being just as judgemental as theists.

          Once again, you make that statement in a way that suggests that it doesn’t apply to you. Perhaps you should be reminded of your own words in this very thread:

          I encouraged my daughter to refrain from sex until she was older (I think the words of wisdom were something along the lines of “boys your age are all rutting dogs interested in only one thing,… I know because I used to be one”

          “Boys your age are ALL rutting dogs” Well if that’s not a sweeping generalization then I don’t know what is. I understand where you’re coming from though. Men who used girls as playthings when they were teenagers are often overprotective of their own daughters because they tend to project their own personality onto all teenage boys.

          FYI, not ALL teenage boys are like that. Some are shy, insecure and vulnerable and have a hard time relating to girls even though they need to just as much the “rutting dog” types. Some teenagers need to be held back and some need to be encouraged.

          • In reply to #37 by NearlyNakedApe:

            In reply to #25 by Red Dog:

            Well sorry to break the news to you

            Sensibly excellent!

      • In reply to #24 by NearlyNakedApe:

        Resisting the urge to hire the services of a sex worker
        Resisting the urge to masturbate

        I don’t see these examples as relevant to someone unable to find a consensual sexual partner. Firstly, a sex worker is a consensual sexual partner; secondly, sex is (or should be) much more than mutual masturbation, so a person not in a sexual relationship will, through choice or not, be “abstaining” from the additional dimensions that sex provides.

        People should get comfortable with their sexuality BEFORE they get married if they want their relationship to have any chance of success.

        I agree completely, but you don’t have to have sex to be comfortable with your sexuality.

        • In reply to #30 by Humbug:

          In reply to #24 by NearlyNakedApe:

          Resisting the urge to hire the services of a sex worker
          Resisting the urge to masturbate

          I don’t see these examples as relevant to someone unable to find a consensual sexual partner. Firstly, a sex worker is a consensual sexual partner;

          On the contrary, they have everything to do with it. And no, a sex worker doesn’t qualify as a consensual sex partner. Just because the sex one gets from a sex worker is not coerced doesn’t mean that it’s consensual. Consensual means that BOTH parties are interested in having sex with each other. A sex worker is a service provider who offers sexual gratification in exchange for money. Saying a sex worker is a consensual sex partner is like saying the cable repairman comes to your place because he enjoys your company.

          And secondly, stating that a sex worker qualifies as a consensual partner actually contradicts the whole notion of the guy who is “unable to find a consensual sex partner”. Is there any place in the world where sex workers are impossible to find?

          secondly, sex is (or should be) much more than mutual masturbation…

          Really?? I think you’re confusing sex and intimacy. I agree that intimacy is much more than just casual sex. But calling casual sex “mutual masturbation” suggests an underlying belief that it’s somehow degraded. What you think is right for you is not necessarily right for everyone. There is no standard on what sex should or shouldn’t be.

          so a person not in a sexual relationship will, through choice or not, be “abstaining” from the additional dimensions that sex provides.

          Wow, that’s really… vague. Once again, I sense an aversion to being specific on your part because that would involve writing “dirty things”.

          People should get comfortable with their sexuality BEFORE they get married if they want their relationship to have any chance of success.
          

          I agree completely, but you don’t have to have sex to be comfortable with your sexuality.

          That makes about as much sense as saying that you don’t need to play hockey in order to be a good hockey player. Human sexuality is a physical act, not an intellectual pursuit. [Last sentence removed by moderator]

    • In reply to #14 by Humbug:

      Finally, abstinence may not be easy or fashionable, but it is certainly not impossible. I was a virgin until my wedding night at the age of 28 and have absolutely no regrets about that decision. I find it sad that, instead of celebrating virginity, society goes to such lengths to treat it as something old-fashioned, unachievable or even shameful.

      Nobody’s saying that. People are just saying that the choice should be there. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging kids to wait until they’re older. That’s not even anything wrong with saying that abstinence is an option. However, it’s unrealistic to think that more than a handful of people will wait until marriage… that is, unless, they marry at age 18. And how long do those marriages last? The most realistic and logical thing is to tell them to wait until they’re ready. Age 13? Young, but if they’re going to do it, they’re going to do it. Make sure they know about condoms. Encourage them to wait until at least 16. I think I read that 18 is the average age of first sex.

      But everybody’s needs are different. I’m turning 33 next month and I still haven’t done the horizontal Macarena. Nothing to do with ideology or repression or gasp something bad happened to me… No. I’m just not attracted to people easily. The farthest I got was 2nd base when I was almost 19 years old. That was the closest thing I ever got to a relationship with a guy (I’m a “straight” woman) and it was more of a “friends with (limited) benefits” thing. While I am curious about sex and would have sex I got into a relationship with someone, I’m not losing sleep over it. I have Asperger’s Syndrome and many of us are either asexual or simply just not as “horny” as the rest of the population. I’m the latter. I actually know three guys about my age who haven’t gotten laid yet. One is simply insecure and hasn’t pursued a relationship. Another, while not asexual, is someone I am near certain has Asperger’s Syndrome and just rarely finds someone who interests him. The other is a guy also with Asperger’s who hasn’t been in any real relationship yet and, like me, isn’t desperate (or maybe he is and just isn’t talking about it. I don’t know).

  9. Religion expects people to abstain from sex and they shame you if you don’t – That is just wrong – Not everyone is rampantly sleeping about and most people control themselves…even atheists …. Seriously…who else can tell you not to have sex – if you want to get sexual with a willing partner – why shouldn’t you – its a loving act…as long as you protect yourself…there’s no shame in that – none at all.
    Its the most natural thing….even at 14 – 15 many people are fully functioning adults and were considered so a hundred years ago, but now teens are treated like children….some of them may be immature.. but we are generalising about an age limit when we are all different and mature at different rates….Lack of openness about sex often ends up with teens getting pregnant ….that’s the key point for me …girls are more shamed if they even think a sexual thought ! but boys are throwing it about all over the place….that is an unfair and biased stigma ….Marriage and virginity are over rated for most women – Do they actually think they will never find a husband if they are not virgins ???? What century do we live in ? I don’t advocate multiple partners for people but sensible and healthy personal choices – however babies will keep happening regardless of our societies moral expectations – Instinct wins every time !

  10. Saving it till marriage seems absolutely crazy to me. As was pointed out not all want to get married anyway. To marry someone without first giving the goods a test drive, seems a good way to end up with a bad car. Living together is also a sensible thing, – to find out about the other person.

    The usual old Christian angst about perfectly healthy human desires. At least the author didn’t say that sex was only for procreation as some Christians do.

  11. No one really mentions that we are put on this planet to reproduce. When a child reaches puberty the urge to reproduce is so powerful that even religious dogma will never hold it back. The only way forward is to teach young people that safe sex is far better then unprotected sex and educate them into this point of view. “Just say No” doesn’t work, only good quality education and common sense into this matter will work.

    • In reply to #27 by ikinmoore:

      No one really mentions that we are put on this planet to reproduce. When a child reaches puberty the urge to reproduce is so powerful that even religious dogma will never hold it back. The only way forward is to teach young people that safe sex is far better then unprotected sex and educate them in…

      When a child reaches puberty they are capable of getting pregnant but not of carrying a baby to term without extremely high risks. Teenage motherhood works in the West only with access to excellent maternal care. In the third world it is a killer. Maternal death rates for teenage girls are huge, and so is long term damage. Even here babies born to teens are often premature or smaller than average. In teens resources still go primarily to the mother rather than the feotus. A reverse of what happens in adult women. So teenagers are some kind of evolutionary quirk, but they are certainly interested and capable of part of the process but are nowhere near ready for adult responsibilities, physical or emotional. So that is a spurious argument.

      We still need to teach choice and respect for others alongside sex ed. Sex, like other rights, comes with responsibilities, to the choices of the others involved. We need to be careful because we are not talking about adults – and child protection is the most important issue. The age of consent is 16 for very good child protection reasons. It is time to remove the debate from religion and anyones particular sets of morals and set in firmly within the bounds of child protection.

  12. ligtwave comment 18

    Lack of openness about sex often ends up with teens getting pregnant ….that’s the key point for me …girls are more shamed if they even think a sexual thought ! but boys are throwing it about all over the place….that is an unfair and biased stigma ….Marriage and virginity are over rated for most women – Do they actually think they will never find a husband if they are not virgins ????

    Actually the debate yet again seems to be swinging between two extremes and lots of people are understandably falling into the trap of judging based on what things were like in their childhoods.

    The fact of the matter is the mechanics of sex and contraception are taught in all UK schools. Thats the easy bit. However girls are no longer made to feel guilty for waiting but for not waiting. A whole industry has swung us past healthy attitudes of sex is fine if you WANT it with someone you want to do it with, thru to you are abnormal if you don’t want to with everyone and anyone.And girls are damned if they do (slappers, slags) and if they don’t (frigid, lezzers, ugly). The pressure on girls and boys is collosal. Sex is no longer enjoyable and a choice activity. It is something you feel you have to do. So teaching abstinence per se is nonsense but teaching it as an option until you feel the time is right is what we are trying to do and finding difficult.

    In some schools girls are being expected to be at the beck and call of gangs of boys. That is the expectation of both sexes.

    As for teens getting pregnant, yet again you are probably harking back to a different age. Nearly every teen pregnancy I’ve dealt with has been a girl who knew the risks completely and knew what to do to prevent them. It has been a sort of choice. A warped choice in the absence of other choices, for certain groups their only choice to get something in life that gives them status.

    The debate needs to stop being knee jerk reactions because the abstinence option comes from religious groups and carries on till marriage, and start being realistic. Look at the pressures teenagers are under. Give them options, tell them to wait until they are ready whether that is 14 or 27, with a person they choose to do it with. And to ignore porn as their guide and try and teach them how unrealistic that is and what real sex and relationsips should be a bout. But a full debate will actually take everyone beyond their comfort zones and it will take a realisation of what pressures teens are actually under.

    But it needs doing. Self harming is at an all time high, eating disorders, girls distraught at the appearance of normal pubic hair and obsession with looks. And so to are attempts to escape that pressure anywhere possible. And at the moment the religious groups are the ones offering the escape routes. Don’t let them. Don’t let Islam be the only group offering girls and alternative to the tits oot for the lads pressures. Because that is just as bad. Stop the pendulum swinging from one extreme to another with the healthy middle ground of respect for others and responsible sex.

  13. Perhaps creationism is the elephant in the room. Teaching that humans are created and are not like animals is a problem so kids don’t associate human reproduction with animal reproduction. If basic biology education included explaining the hormonally driven and pleasurable incentives humans have to reproduce, and the way humans can avoid reproducing if they choose, kids would just know how it works. The decision would then be whether they want a child or not, not whether to have sex or not. Most teenagers including boys would almost definitely say they don’t want a child at their age and they’d know either to abstain or use prevention of some sort.

  14. In reply to #37 by NearlyNakedApe:

    In reply to #25 by Red Dog:
    Well sorry to break the news to you but that’s pretty much what everybody is doing in this thread including yourself. The only reason you qualify my suggestions and opinions as “sweeping generalizations” and “presumptuous” is because they’re not in line with yours.

    It is certainly true that what we are all doing is expressing our opinions but I think there is a big difference between what you (and Humbug) seem to be saying vs. the position I am taking. You seem to be arguing that anyone who says they choose abstinence is making an unhealthy choice. Humbug seems to be arguing the opposite, that anyone who isn’t abstinent in certain circumstances is making the wrong choice. All I’m saying is that these are highly personal choices and none of us has the right to be making judgements about what is right for others. As long as its consenting adults what works for one person quite likely wouldn’t work for many others.

  15. Phil Rimmer comment 34

    UK sex ed is fairly appalling. It starts too late, is partial, and treated like some dangerous topic requiring its separation from other lessons. Scandiwegia gets it right, starts early, treats the subject comprehensively, and helps kids become thoroughly familiar with all aspects of the subject. Love and sex is not scary, its normal. The result? The lowest teen pregnancy abortion and STD rates on the planet.

    What a load of rubbish, when were you last in a sex ed class. Teen pregnancy in the UK is not linked in any way to lack of education. It is linked to esteem, life chances, poverty and relative disadvantage. Here we have comprehensive education in contraception plus every girl knows that schools will ensure easy and quick access to emergency contraception should something go wrong. We have provided it many times.

    Teen pregnancy and early sexual activity are linked to low self esteem, educational level of the mother, social class and a host of other things, none of which have anything to do with sex ed or liking for sex. Unless you think girls whose mothers have degrees are less likely to enjoy sex. A lot of what you are claiming is to do with social disadvantage not sex ed.

    Providing condoms without thoroughly normalising sex and putting it in its various contexts, to the point of making it prosaic is to glamorise it. Christianity poisoned that metaphorical apple of theirs, creating the inappropriate allure of Forbidden Fruit. The US (and to a lesser extent the UK) suffer the snickery consequences to this day.

    Please explain this as it doesn’t make sense. Condom use is taught and encouraged for all sexual encounters. It is prosaic. The problem is making sure folk are having sex for the right reasons and by choice not keeping them safe. Schools are not struggling with the mechanics they are struggling with emotional fall out and consequences.

    • In reply to #42 by PG:

      esteem, life chances, poverty and relative disadvantage

      Of course these play a significant part in the mix, but the piece is about sex ed. In the US it is terrible and in the UK it is certainly not up to northern European standards. As the father of two UK teens at a great state school, I have been disappointed at the parsimony and partiality of the materials and program. It takes more than a one time telling in a PSHE day to “normalise” the subject. Education comes from learning and re-learning the material as you grow into it. Analysing at the new deeper level as intellectual and emotional capabilities expand is what it ideally should involve.

      Besides are you entirely happy that teen pregnancy and abortion are merely effects of poverty and not part of a re-inforcing cycle and that they are quite inaccessible to the behaviour modifying potential of education and the enhanced self awareness that it can net?

      • In reply to #42 by PG:

        This claim will need some evidence to let it stand as is….

        Teen pregnancy in the UK is not linked in any way to lack of education.

        Meanwhile, from the International Planned Parent Federation report on European Sex Ed

        “… there is now
        strong international evidence that school-based
        sexuality education can be effective in reducing
        sexual risk behaviour and is not associated with
        increased sexual activity or increase sexual risk
        taking, as some have feared (Kirby, Laris and Rolleri,
        2005). On the contrary, the majority of sexuality
        programmes reviewed either delayed sex or reduced
        the numbers of sexual partners among young people.
        This same review found that sexuality education has
        a positive effect on knowledge and awareness of risk,
        values and attitudes, effi
        cacy to negotiate sex and to
        use condoms, and communication with partners and
        parents – all of which have been shown to lead to
        healthy behaviour.”

        If your claim is that UK Sex Ed is not improvable, then I despair. Improved as it is over the impoverished thing it was in my day in the sixties it is still outclassed by most such programs in Northern Europe.

        From Wiki-

        “In England and Wales, sex education is not compulsory in schools as parents can refuse to let their children take part in the lessons. The curriculum focuses on the reproductive system, foetal development, and the physical and emotional changes of adolescence, while information about contraception and safe sex is discretionary[39] and discussion about relationships is often neglected[citation needed]“

        The “discretionary” reference at 39 is to the 1996 Sex Education Act. Contrast this with, say Germany also from Wiki..

        “In Germany, sex education has been part of school curricula since 1970. Since 1992 sex education is by law a governmental duty.[31]“

        “German Constitutional Court and, in 2011, the European Court of Human Rights rejected complaints from several Baptists against Germany concerning mandatory sex education.[34]“

        There may be worthy individuals or groups in UK education but if this deep commitment is not backed up with the political clout to embed it within our educational culture we will always lag behind in the crucial task of normalisation.

        US Sex Ed pioneer Martha Roper sums it up thus-

        “Teen pregnancy and STI rates are drastically lower in major European countries because sex education is treated as a matter of public health,” she explains. “Their general attitude surrounding sex is not puritanical and squeamish while strangely glorifying it without explaining what sex is all about. Their policies are much closer to treating humans as sexual people and sex as a normal, natural part of life.” – See more at: http://www.thenation.com/blog/162839/teaching-sexuality-education#sthash.RemfGQuT.dpuf

    • In reply to #42 by PG:

      Phil Rimmer comment 34

      UK sex ed is fairly appalling. It starts too late, is partial…

      The problem is making sure folk are having sex for the right reasons and by choice not keeping them safe. Schools are not struggling with the mechanics they are struggling with emotional fall out and consequences….

      It is inappropriate to blame schools for poor parenting .

      Parents who fill their kids with nonsense about sex (for the right reasons) and then expect remedial parenting to be performed at school are parenting irresponsibly.

    • In reply to #42 by PG:

      Sorry. I’ve worried over this, because I think there is a misunderstanding over what I have, said and this-

      The problem is making sure folk are having sex for the right reasons and by choice not keeping them safe. Schools are not struggling with the mechanics they are struggling with emotional fall out and consequences.

      is exactly the concern we share. My point is simply that the particular struggle is the less in Northern European schools.

  16. nearlynakedape

    On the contrary, they have everything to do with it. And no, a sex worker doesn’t qualify as a consensual sex partner. Just because the sex one gets from a sex worker is not coerced doesn’t mean that it’s consensual. Consensual means that BOTH parties are interested in having sex with each other. A sex worker is a service provider who offers sexual gratification in exchange for money. Saying a sex worker is a consensual sex partner is like saying the cable repairman comes to your place because he enjoys your company.

    Spot on! And quite often that service is provided out of desperation, to get the next fix or avoid a beating. Rarely is it the occupation of choice and often the result of force.

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