Friday, July 13, 2007

Teens Get Smarter About Sex

The teen intercourse rate fell below 50% a decade ago. The teen pregnancy rate has been dropping for twice that long. Of those teens who do have sex, nearly 2/3rds now say they use condoms. The teen birth rate has hit a record low. All of this good news is in a just-released federal report.

The only thing that bothers me about this report is that the reason the government gives for the improvement. Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, said "The lower figure on teens having sex means the risk of sexually transmitted disease is lower." He is right, of course, and lowering the risk of STDs is a good thing. But think of how else he might have finished that sentence. "The lower figure on teens having sex means ...

- that more teens see the value of saving sex for marriage
- that more teens understand that their children will be healthier and happier if they wait until they are older to have them
- that more teens understand that sex is better if it is part of a mature commitment, one they are not ready to make yet
- that more teen girls understand that they do not have to say yes to hold on to a guy
- that more teen boys understand that they should not press a girl to say yes even when she wants to please him
- that more teens understand that popular culture is saturated with sex because it is an easy way to sell things, not because that is the way real life should be

... and a dozen other positive, mature reasons why some teenagers control their natural desires more sensibly.

Sex is not primarily about disease and death. Smart kids know that.


tribalchurch said...

"that more teens understand that popular culture is saturated with sex because it is an easy way to sell things..." reminds me of a Post series on following teens to the mall. The teens thought mall clothes were too skimpy, and seemed quite embarrassed about buying clothes from Abercrombie and Fitch.

It was a great series, very revealing in all the right ways!

Ezra said...

I get your point but, c'mon Beau, this is the director of the National Center for Health Statistics, not the omni-parent of America's youth. Everything listed here should be the concern of the parent so there is no point in saying “But think of how else he might have finished that sentence.” because there is no “might” here because all these things are not and should not be his concern and it is not and should not be his place to consider or voice such things.

José Solano said...

I suppose that the director for the National Center for Health Statistics could ignore most of the other ways of ending that sentence if the NCHS is only concerned with STDs and not with the mental health and overall well-being of children and families.

The last time I heard that “good news” about the reduction in teen pregnancy was at a Leonard Pitts talk I attended about a year ago. The question I brought up was how does an increase in the number of abortions relate to that pregnancy reduction. Is there any concern being voiced by the NCHS for the health of those millions of deliberately snuffed out people? It appears that human beings in the womb these days live extremely dangerous lives. This gives a new dimension to Mr. Sondik’s statement: “Young teen mothers and their babies are at a greater risk of both immediate and long-term difficulties.”

The AP report quotes James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth, an organization hell-bent on undermining abstinence programs so that kids may “safely” engage in sex. The statement, “We need to encourage young teens to delay sexual initiation, and we need to make sure they get all the information they need about condoms and birth control,” is pure double-speak, mixed messages when it comes to teenagers. When you tell teenagers to delay having sex but to use condoms or birth control methods when they do have sex, they are primarily hearing "forget delaying sex till marriage." They understand that statement to mean you’ve given them a choice. Kids in general don’t have the wisdom or will power to resist powerful instincts. Immediate gratification is almost always the choice they will make. When they resist it’s because they have had strong abstinence education from other sources that are undermined by Advocates for Youth, Planned Parenthood and other sex worshiping organizations.

Gruntled said...

It is fair enough that the head of the National Center for Health Statistics would mention the health benefits of teen sex reduction first. However, his remarks suggest that he thinks that the reduction is due mostly to a fear of sexual disease, rather than to smart teens taking sex more seriously.