Marked Decline in Formal Education about Contraception

Thanks to Feministing for alerting us to the Guttmacher Institutes report that formal education about contraception for teens is significantly on the decline in the US. This should scare us all.

First of all, if fewer teens are learning about contraception through formal channels, they are also no doubt learning less about STDs and other sexual health issues through formal channels as well.

Second of all, if teens actually know about less about contraception, they will more likely end up with unintended pregnancies. This would not seem to be a good way to reduce the number of abortions sought. And, if attempts to restrict abortion are successful, then somebody is going to have to take care of these children. And if they are not taken care of well, or if they are raised in poverty, or in precarious economic situations, because of the reduction of their young parents’ opportunities, they are going to be more likely to be poor or in precarious situations as adults. Increasing the number of poor children and adults does not seem like a wise direction for any society.

Third, this reduction is directly related to the increase in “abstinence only” sex education. “Abstinence only” curricula do not just teach abstinence. They also often contain errors or lies about the efficacy of contraception. In other words, they do not just limit information, some of them actively misinform. This is not education.

Last, teenagers have sex. They always have, and it’s hard to imagine a time when they won’t. If we can just take a deep breath and acknowledge that a signficant number of teens are going to have sex, then we would have to acknowledge the cruelty of actively denying them information that would help them protect themselves.

We can teach teens many things about responsible behavior, but we should not withhold from them information that could save their lives and save their futures.

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