Have you ever walked into a candy store with a little kid? For most, their eyes get big, and they start pulling at you hand so they can run around to look at all of the colors and shapes and, if possible, get their hands on some of the sweet stuff.
Now imagine saying, “Don’t get overly excited. It’s just candy. You don’t really need any of this, stuff and it’s not very good for your body, so let’s just take it slowly and think about whether or not this is a good idea. We probably should just look today and come back another day, when you can make a responsible choice.”
All that stuff is true, but there’s no chance that kid is even going to hear what’s said, let alone act on it.
Fast forward to puberty and replace candy with sex, and it’s pretty much the same thing. Anyone who is honest with themselves will agree that rational thinking during puberty is as likely as a healthy 3-year-old in the doorway of a candy store saying, “No thanks, I’ll wait until I’m 5 to go in there.”
Fortunately Ohioans are finally choosing to deal with the consequences of a failed program disguised as sex education. Today Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio announced the results of a recent poll underscoring this point.
“According to the poll by Quinnipiac University, 71 percent of Ohioans support an approach to teaching sexuality education that focuses on both promotion of abstinence for school-aged youth with education on contraceptives and condoms.”
Gov. Ted Strickland’s decision to end state funding for abstinence-only-until-marriage “education” programs in the 2008–2009 budget is supported by a majority of Buckeye state residents: 51 percent support and 40 percent oppose the cut. The governor’s budget didn’t include an annual $500,000 match for federal Title V funds to support these programs.
That support cuts across political party lines, with 79 percent of Democrats and 59 percent of Republicans supporting an integrated approach. This is a growing trend across the country, because science is proving what most people who choose to deal with reality already know — abstinence-only doesn’t work.
Federal restrictions on approved uses of abstinence-only-until-marriage funds don’t allow an integrated approach. The problem with this religious position barely disguised as public policy is that it isn’t a sound, reliable educational program. This is reinforced by a study of abstinence programs in Ohio. Conducted in 2005 by Scott Frank, director of Public Health at Case Western Reserve University, the study concludes, “The abstinence-only curricula implemented in schools throughout the state contain misleading and false information, scientific errors and substantial inaccuracies regarding gender stereotypes, STD and contraception.”
Evidence is growing that the abstinence-only approach has little positive effect on teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, nor does it change teen sexual behavior. California, Connecticut, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Iowa, Colorado and Washington have all rejected federal abstinence-only-until marriage dollars. Should Ohio be next?
— Margo Pierce