Kids are having more kids than ever
Do you know where your teenager is? More importantly, do you know if they're alone? Or if they have any clothes on?
You may think this is an outrageous question, but according to statistics, there's a fair chunk of parents that don't know (or don't care) what their teens are doing, because there's been a jump in the number of teen pregnancies. For the first time since 1991, the number of teens giving birth has gone up, bucking a long downward trend.
Kids today, huh?
It's a small jump - just a three-percent rise, according to government statisticians. And there's some disagreement whether this is really a trend or just a statistical "blip." But here's the best part: some government "experts" claim they've been expecting this jump! Why? They blame it on increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that doesn't teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception.
"Congress needs to stop knee-jerk approving abstinence-only funding when it's clear it's not working," said representative Diana DeGette (D-Colo). DeGette is pushing for "more comprehensive sex education."
Here we go again. Once more, personal accountability has been removed from the equation, and the "responsibility" of teaching kids how to use the various accoutrements designed for their private parts falls upon the U.S. government. Honestly the government can't seem to balance a budget or produce a sensible tax code. Do we really want them nosing around in our kids "business"?
Think about the so-called "logic" of Rep. DeGette's argument for a moment. She's actually claiming that more teens are having babies because they're not being taught how to avoid this in school am I the only one who thinks this sounds utterly absurd? So then how does the government manage to draw such an unlikely conclusion? Well, by looking at the statistics, of course.
The new report has a state-by-state breakdown of the nation's birth rate. Many of the states with the highest teen birth rates teach abstinence instead of "comprehensive" sex education (one shudders to think of the visual aids that are included in the "comprehensive" programs to which the nation's 7th graders would be exposed if Rep. DeGette had her twisted druthers).
As the British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli famously said, there are lies, there are damned lies, and there are statistics. By the same ill-conceived logic, if two people fell into a panda bear pen at a Wisconsin Zoo and were eaten, statistics could be said to "show" a jump in "dangerous panda bear activity" in Wisconsin.
A few months ago, I pointed out other statistics that showed a greater incidence of sexual activity among fans of rap music. Couldn't it be said that if there was a "comprehensive" effort in schools to get kids to avoid rap music, the teen pregnancy rate would drop? Of course not.
And yet, Planned Parenthood officials claim that "research" has "concluded" that abstinence-only programs do not cause a decrease in sexual activity. Those poor teens. If only someone in the government would tell them what problems sexual activities can lead to then they would all spend more wholesome time at the malt shop sharing ice cream sundaes.
Gimme a break.
Is the government impregnating teens?
Whether or not it's "working," there's one undeniable fact about abstinence-only education: it's the truth - if you don't have sex, you cannot get pregnant. And yet, people still tend to believe that if the school "teaches" kids how to have sex safely, then they'll avoid STDs and pregnancy.
We don't believe they're responsible enough to drive, or vote, or be gainfully employed. Many of them can't even complete their homework. And yet, Rep DeGette thinks that when their hormones are at fever pitch, they'll follow all the rules, and be sure they have a condom in place and lots of contraceptive jelly on hand.
Actually, there are just as many studies and statistics that claim comprehensive sex ed isn't doing anything to prevent teen pregnancy. Another recent government study showed that condom use actually increased during this same period - from 46 percent of sexually active teens in 1991 to 63 percent in 2005.
I think it's high time to put away the political football of sex education. We all know how this issue breaks down. Those on the right tend to support an abstinence-only program. On the left, they're all for comprehensive sex ed. But is it the government program that's at fault here, or the teens themselves? Personal accountability is shoved to the roadside too often in these arguments. Why not take the onus off the government, and shut up the too-vocal combatants on the right and the left? Teens aren't getting pregnant or staying chaste because of what they're taught in the classroom, but because of what they're taught at home. To think otherwise is to completely miss the point.
We should expect more of our nation's young men and women. Sex - like driving and voting - is a heavy responsibility with potentially massive and negative personal consequences. That incontrovertible fact should be impressed upon them, and left up to them. If mistakes are made - and at that age, they always are - they are not the mistakes of a government or a political viewpoint. Those are personal mistakes. Teens make them. Teens should be blamed for them. And the parents, too but that's a subject for another day.