Recent scientific studies have shown that the impulse control of our youth does not completely develop until their mid-twenties. While the study was used to argue against trying children as adults in a court of law it certainly has implications for those of us trying to find the best method of teaching kids about abstinence and safe sex. If we hold teens to the highest standards of abstinence without offering tools to protect them in the event that their impulsiveness gets the better of them we will inevitably be disappointed. Many of them will give in to those impulses and because they do not have the tools of safe sex, they will not use them. The result being an increase in the number of teen pregnancies.
Study after study has demonstrated the ineffectiveness of abstinence ONLY education programs. Yet, we continue to spend our tax dollars on a program that does not work. Why? If any other program were as colossal a failure as this one, the conservatives in Congress would be howling about its waste. But no, rather than deal with reality, they have chosen to pander to a base that turns a blind eye to its ineffectiveness and blames the child for a lack of morals when in fact it was a lack of education of conservative creation that contributed to the situation.
What is to be done?
As usual, a pragmatic approach is the solution to the problem. Just as the extreme of abstinence ONLY is ineffective, the idea that ignoring abstinence all together is equally foolish. We must recognize that promoting abstinence as the only sure fire means of avoiding pregnancy is the highest of goals but if, for some reason, your impulses get the better of you there are ways in which to protect yourself and your partner from the physical affects of sexual behavior. Also, openly discussing the emotional affects of sex at an early age is tantamount to running a successful sex education program. Now, if parents don't want their children being exposed to such discussions it is certainly their right to have their children exempt from such programs. However, they should then be informed about ways in which they can address these issues at home. When we put away our ideological differences and recognize these facts, perhaps we can drastically reduce teen pregnancies and perhaps even the need for abortion itself.