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Social Issues: Letters

Lying About Sex

Since it is apparently OK to lie about sex, I suppose we should have no qualms about leaving our teenagers in the hands of the "adolescent health professionals" who argue for a contraceptive based sex education and plead with parents to trust them. ("Young People Need To Know About More Than Abstinence," January 23, 1999.)

Ever since the 1986 Planned Parenthood commissioned Harris poll on "Comprehensive Sex Education" which showed an increase in sexual activity after contraceptive education, experts personally and professionally committed to the concept of "safe sex" have been scrambling to find justification. The best they can do is to find an occasional study that seems to show their approach "does not increase sexual activity" and ignore the ones that show something else.

They express dismay that any parents oppose their programs and even try to block a choice such as offered by Osseo schools between programs that view sex as a powerful force that can be used to help bond together a lifetime relationship for mutual support and the raising of children, or can be a path to personal and societal destruction. Many contraceptive educators even deviously try to tap into money designated for abstinence education by redefining their approach as "abstinence from intercourse" by stressing other modes of sexual expression like mutual masturbation and oral sex.

Why do any enlightened people in this age of tolerance have a problem with that? Think about it. "Safe Sex," after all, is the idea that it is fine to temporarily use the bodies of other people for personal gratification as long as you employ the proper technology. It assumes that the only possible problems are disease or pregnancies, both of which can be easily prevented or "cured." A few parents are not yet so cynical as to want such a fate for their children.

The psychological devastation is the biggest effect of sex without commitment and it leads to more of the other problems as well. A study of the use of birth control by teens (DiCemente, Pediatrics February 1992) found that use of condoms with the third through fifth partners was down to 27.4% from 49.6% for the first. Why might this be? You would expect them to become more sophisticated and prepared. They certainly know where to buy the things. I suggest that self esteem goes down and protective reflexes are replaced by an "I don't care" attitude. Some girls at that point really want a baby (who will stick around and love them since the guys apparently will not.)

Newsweek put it this way in an article on teens with AIDS. (August 3, 1992) Teens do not insist on condoms if the partner resists, "because the desire for love and acceptance overcomes the fear of getting sick." Isn't that heartbreaking? They are talking about kids who want love and acceptance, not sex. There is a difference, remember. Their desires are not fulfilled by what they are doing, and they begin to feel cheap and used. They may even become self destructive.

Are their really no studies that show benefit from abstinence education? Or is it just that they are being censored? Sex Respect, a successful curriculum emphasizing marriage is being attacked by SIECUS and Planned Parenthood (who claim that they also want sexual abstinence for teens). They do not question its effectiveness, but state that it works by promoting fear. I wonder how they feel about warning little children not to run in the street?

Most of the thought questions in Facing Reality, a high school sex, drugs and alcohol curriculum, were ruled illegal in Shreveport, Louisiana, in 1993 by Judge Thaxton, because of a statute that prohibits quizzing students on subjective personal views. (There, for all time, goes the essay test!)

Why such trumped up and abstract charges? This is especially puzzling when looking at the data showing a marked improvement in attitudes towards sexual abstinence for unmarried teens. The change was most dramatic, amazingly, with those who had previously been sexually active and those considered high risk.

The short term return to abstinence was about 60% - 70% with longer term studies are underway. (See "Facing Reality: Abstinence Curriculum Evaluation Report, 1994-95," and "Choosing the Best: Abstinence Curriculum Evaluation Report 1994-95" by John Vessey, PhD, Mental Health Services & Evaluation Program, Northwestern University Medical School. Copies available from Project Reality, PO Box 97, Golf IL 60029-0097.)

Teen-Aid, another abstinence program has shown in its 1991 report that there was significant change in attitudes and intentions as a result of the course. ("The Teen-Aid Family Life Education Project: Year End 1991 Report, Teen-Aid, Inc., 1330 Calispel, Spokane WA 99201.) They also showed a great teacher variability with poor results by teachers who did not really believe in the program. That makes sense. If the teacher essentially says, "Well, I'm supposed to tell you to not do it, but what you really need is condoms," the kids will get that message loud and clear.

What is missing from the analysis of the politically correct camp? And why does it use such devious techniques to discredit the programs doing what most parents actually want? THERE IS A FAULTY UNDERSTANDING OF HUMAN NATURE.

There is an unfounded assumption among liberals that given adequate information, people will do the right thing. Sorry, folks, not only does it not work for students, even teachers tend to lie about sex.

Ross S.Olson MD
  Dr. Olson is a Pediatrician living in Minneapolis.

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