Hello Barack Obama, Goodbye Abstinence?

Filed under: Opinions

One hand passing a condom to anotherAfter years of not working -- can you say Bristol? -- it looks like abstinence-only education may be on its way out in favor of a more comprehensive curriculum which would include (accurate) information about contraception -- you know, just in case teens do decide to have sex (not that any would after growing up in a supportive, conservative, Christian home and being taught about abstinence, right Bristol?)

"Talking with Obama, he totally understands the need for young people to have comprehensive sex education -- they need information that protects their health," said Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. She has been an outspoken critic of the Bush administration's support of abstinence-only education, calling it "an utter failure that has wasted more than $1.5 billion" and pointing out the many studies -- including one funded by the federal government -- that have found no evidence of success in preventing teen sex or pregnancy.

It is unsure, as yet, what an Obama budget will offer in the way of funding for sex education, but it is well known that he is in favor of comprehensive education. Of course, even if federal funding for abstinence-only education is eliminated, some states may continue the programs on their own. Abstinence education will remain a strategy of our youth development initiative regardless of what happens at the federal level," said Jen Bennecke, executive director of the Georgia Governor's Office for Children and Families. Georgia spends more than $500,000 of state money on its abstinence-only program.

Ideally, parents would teach their children what they need to know -- or at least what the parents want them to know (and the rest can be picked up in the schoolyard), but not all parents have the knowledge, time, or courage to address these issues with their kids. So, rather than have to deal with lots of unwanted pregnancies, it seems like a good idea for the government to fill in where parents can't or won't.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.