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TheGarcipian (34.49)

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April 30, 2008 – Comments (6)

And now for a moment of levity over a very serious matter. First, the serious matter: abstinence-only sex education programs and teenage pregnancy. In my opinion, having abstinence-only sex education programs without the alternatives discussed in a meaningful and open dialog is like instructing your newly-licensed kids that there is only thing they need to operate a vehicle: an ignition key. Not discussing safety belts & a myriad of other topics with them about operating such a vehicle is stupid and potentially physically & mentally harmful to them with long-lasting effects. I’d argue it’s criminally negligent, but that might be hard-sell for some. I respect that, but in my opinion, the same principle applies to sex education.

Not having kids understand the long-reaching repercussions of an unwanted or ill-timed pregnancy or of the contractible STDs out there is similar to not teaching your kids about gasoline, oil, car maintenance, how to change a tire, how to drive in bad weather, keeping your insurance current, how to handle an accident scene, possibilities for impaired judgment when friends are in the car with you, the dangers of drinking & driving, the effects of a DUI on your record, etc. Despite all good intentions of abstinence-only education, if you only give your kids one method for dealing with a situation, especially as complicated and unpredictable as teenage sex, they will be the ones suffering in the long run, just as someone ill-prepared for when the car breaks down or is in a head-on collision with alcohol involved.

IMO, the proponents of these abstinence-only programs are the same people that bury their head in the sand to avoid seeing the real problem. I think they honestly believe that everyone does teach or is willing to teach their kids about sex (all of it). They believe it is the responsibility of those kids’ parents to do so, and that it should be a private matter. In an Ozzie-and-Harriet World, yeah, sure, that pie-in-the-sky thinking works out on paper. But in the real world, it doesn’t. I don’t have any problem with the single parent who’s working two jobs and/or is too frightened or removed from the household to talk to his/her teenage daughter about sex education, contraception and stark choices (or worse, a father who is too macho to talk to his son about wearing a condom). But when that daughter gets pregnant and the same absent parent refuses to let her get an abortion, then it becomes a problem for the rest of us (socially, physically and financially). She will likely not finish high school, and probably will never go to college. With that decision, her total career earnings have been utterly slashed. Her chances of ending up on the Welfare rolls have gone up considerably. Her contributions to the betterment of mankind will now have to be realized through her child, if at all. At that point, her life has taken a radical right-turn off the Freeway of Infinite Choices and into a darker, more limited, more difficult part of town. Should she be punished because she made a choice that perhaps she didn’t fully understand? Maybe. But for those of you who cluck that she should be forced to live out that choice, how many times were you given a second chance to improve your behavior as a teen, to learn from your past mistakes? Probably more than once. The problem with an unwanted pregnancy is there’s only one chance to learn from that mistake. Once it’s done, it’s done. (I’m discounting abortions here because it’s more likely not an option for those who feel she should live with this mistake). There is no going back; there is no re-learning. So why not give your kids as many tools as possible for dealing with such life-altering scenarios? With real sex education programs (not just the abstinence ones), there is a much better chance at learning before such life-altering events actually occur.

And to be completely selfish for a moment, should the rest of us be punished for her “choice”?  Punish us, you say? How so? We (the American Public) will now have to support her and her child. Outside of the joy of the actual childbirth, the rest of the play is a tragedy, really. The very ironic thing about this whole screwed-up mess is that this is exactly the moment when you need the pity, help and financial aid of those abstinence-only supporters because their policies have failed this child (and the child has failed themselves too, no doubt). You’d think that this would be the moment when these abstinence-only flag wavers would acknowledge their programs have flaws (nothing is perfect!), yet this is exactly when they turn their backs on the pregnant teens, shunning them, refusing these kids abortions, and cutting financial aid for programs that help these teens deal with such pregnancies. If nothing else, just following the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”, doesn’t it make fiscal sense to invest in a $1.25 condom for your neighbor’s kid than the hundreds of thousands of dollars lost to the same kid through social “follow-up” programs, lost productivity & lost wages, not to mention the psychological & social stigma attached to that "pound of cure"?!  I still can’t get my head around the warped thinking of these head-in-the-sand people.

And now, we see again (as if we’ve forgotten the Reagan Administration’s years of purporting the same “abstinence works” bullcrap) that the Bush Administration and the Religious Right have failed us in exactly the same manner. Duh. When are we going to wake up?  Having spent $1.3 billion (BILLION!) since 1998, most of it more recently under Dubya’s watch, we now know – again – that pushing such policies have failed. Again. (In fact, teenage pregnancies have actually increased during this time).

Originally, 49 states opted for the federal funds for these programs back in 1996 (California was the only state to pass up the offer, bless ‘em!). In order to get the funding, there were strings attached, certain requirements of the states in their teaching methods, including but not limited to teaching that “abstinence is the only way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections” (emphasis added). Ridiculous, head-in-the-sand thinking. To quote Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Beverly Hills): "Some states have looked at the federal requirements as the federal government telling them they had to only do it one way, and they didn't like it."  Since the original proposal, many states have walked away, but an alarmingly high number (33) still receive such funding.

How ridiculous. Of course, this is from the same Administration that sold us “yellow cake”, Iraq’s WMDs, EPA rollbacks, habeas corpus castration, wire-tapping is patriotic, that global warming is a hoax, the Kyoto Treaty is for sissies, and a host of other lies and malicious actions, including the cutting back of our troops’ pay & health benefits and the treasonous act of leaking a CIA operative’s name because her husband asked too many questions about pre-IraqWar intelligence (and for which no one has ever been impeached or sent to prison).

I think the only piece of these programs that actually work is the “abstinence of logic” on the part of those who support them!

So please, stop already with these idiotic Pollyanna policies. Let’s save the next $1.3B we’ll waste on such feel-good fluff, spend a mere fraction of that money on truly effective sex education programs, and put the rest of that money to use for improving our troops pay and our veterans' health care instead. Ideals are good to have, but they don’t stop teenage pregnancies or STDs. Condoms do. If you’d rather not look and instead bury your head in the sand, fine. Just allow the rest of us to improve society so that we don’t have to support your kids (and their kids) due to your negligence, criminal as it may be in my opinion.

Finally, I promised some levity on this subject. It is here.

 

(The URL is http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=167331&title=the-global-war-in-your-pants)

If you don’t understand the reference in the title of this blog, you’ll have to view the Comedy Central clip, which I’d recommend anyway because, frankly, it’s pretty darned funny and to the point about how ridiculous our abstinence-only sex education programs really are.

Best Regards,
--Gar

6 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On April 30, 2008 at 9:27 PM, dwot (28.88) wrote:

Teen pregnancy is through the roof where I am.  Anyone else noticing an increase?

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#2) On May 01, 2008 at 12:39 AM, HistoricalPEGuy (67.72) wrote:

While I totally agree with all the points you make - I still find myself asking, is this the right forum for such arguments?  While you have every right to post anything you want, I would suggest keeping it to investing - that's why we are here.

Then again, I still read it.

-- Neil

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#3) On May 01, 2008 at 3:43 AM, TheGarcipian (34.49) wrote:

Hi Neil/HPEG,

Thanks for your suggestion, but in a sense, the blog is about investing: investing in the future of America and in your retirement. When teenage pregnancies rise, more resources are drained from the rest of us, despite what the head-in-sand people would have you believe. They can believe whatever they want, but that doesn't make the problem go away. Retirement is not exactly around the corner for me, but (again being pointedly selfish for effect) the more I have to dish out in taxes for the direct and, more importantly, indirect consequences of such failed policies when cheaper, smarter, more effective methods are readily available is a huge loss for me, and for you too. It will take us longer to reach that "comfortable retirement nestegg" status due to these financial drains. And that's to say nothing about the emotional scars and ultimate limitations such consequences bring upon that child and his/her family.

Education is the answer, just as it is in trying to battle the inner-city gang problem. Giving people more knowledge is always better than restricting it, in my opinion. Giving our children better tools to deal with complex and/or difficult situations makes all of us better people. And better investors. 

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#4) On May 01, 2008 at 3:47 AM, Atleus (< 20) wrote:

- If one of the points of school is to teach kids about sex, I would hope they would also teach kids how to balance a checkbook, how not to spend yourself into massive debt, etc.  Basic shit anyone should know.

You write: "

How ridiculous. Of course, this is from the same Administration that sold us “yellow cake”, Iraq’s WMDs, EPA rollbacks, habeas corpus castration, wire-tapping is patriotic, that global warming is a hoax, the Kyoto Treaty is for sissies, and a host of other lies and malicious actions, including the cutting back of our troops’ pay & health benefits and the treasonous act of leaking a CIA operative’s name because her husband asked too many questions about pre-IraqWar intelligence (and for which no one has ever been impeached or sent to prison)."

I agree with you on: Some EPA rollbacks, the cutting back of troop pay and health benefits, the leaking of a CIA operative's name if Bush is the one who actually authorized it.

I disagree with you on: Global warming (see this article in Time in the 1970's for some fun: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html )

Kyoto (a massively flawed treaty).  I highly recommend Bjorn Lomborg's "Cool It".  Look it up on Amazon.

Unsure: Iraq WMDs.  Read this: http://frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=F715A709-2614-4EA5-967C-F6151F94A364

Sort of:

"habeas corpus castration, wire-tapping is patriotic"

This wouldn't be necessary or appropriate if we didn't have a massive, massive immigration problem.  And I'm not talking about Hispanics.  Last year there were over 100,000 immigrants from the Middle East, mostly Muslims, who believe in Dar Al Harb and Dar Al Islam and Mohammad as al-insan al-kamil.  http://jihadwatch.org/islam101/  is my recommendation.

Lastly, might I suggest you take a larger look at things?  Perhaps even a far larger look at things?  You can start here:

http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/06/ultracalvinist-hypothesis-in.html

 And here: http://unqualified-reservations.blogspot.com/2007/05/iron-polygon-power-in-united-states.html

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#5) On May 01, 2008 at 4:04 AM, Atleus (< 20) wrote:

Actually, ROFL, I just saw this as well which perfectly demonstrates my point:

 

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7376301.stm 

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#6) On May 01, 2008 at 1:57 PM, Tastylunch (28.52) wrote:

I agree 100%  garcipian.

Abstinence only education is criminally negligent. In licking county Ohio the local school board paid for several billboards to be erected by the freeway that have actual local high schooler's portraits put on them , with their name , school activities  and a statement swearing they were abstinent and proud. E..g. Johnny Klochenmeir, quarterback Newark HS "I'm saving myself because I know it's worth the wait". What poor taste and horribly ineffective propaganda. I wouldn't want to be one of those kids advertising to the whole community that I wasn't gettin' any. Heck I don't know anybody who thinks their sex life should be public news let alone advertised

We've had a spike in HIV infections since then, Talk about moronic. 

Kids really aren't that stupid , but adults sure can be. 

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