Danaderas's Blog

Sex Education: Culture and Controversy

Sex Education For All December 5, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 11:17 PM

Over the past few months I’ve spent a lot of time researching sex education techniques and arguing for my stance on sex education. I can’t express how important this topic is to me, that youth are given the information needed to better their lives and make positive choices for living healthy lives.

Across the country and world there are blockades for fully comprehensive sex education, from public officials that publicly announce their distaste for sex education programs to programs which utilize virginity pledges as a form of peer pressure to temporarily erase thoughts of sexual desires from teens and put up a false front of being educational. While the posts and articles that I argue against make the fight for comprehensive sex education seem bleak, there are plenty of education programs available to schools and teens to make sure majority of public schools and youth can get the education they desire.

Obviously, as I have talked about, there are many obstacles in the way of giving students the education that they need and deserve to receive. Education that can save their lives and prevent unfortunate and completely preventable occurences, such as unplanned pregnancies and the contraction of sexually transmitted infections. Soon, I hope that programs such as Planned Parenthood will be coming into schools to give presentation instead of programs of abstinence-only curriculum which utilize virginity programs. This way all students will be able learn the information they need through programs in school and not be forced to find information on their own. I have faith in the law makers and governemtn officials in our country, regardless of what my research experience shows, and I know that one day all youth will be able to get the information they need on sex education.

 

Abstinence Amnesia? November 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 9:27 PM

While doing original research for my blog posts, I decided to write about an article which discussed virginity pledges. Utilized my abstinence-only programs which are taught in schools, virginity pledges are promises made by teens to stay “pure.” Making this promise means that these students pledge to not engage in any sexual activity until marriage. As discussed in my last blog post, there is significant evidence to show that taking a virginity pledge has no effect on teens waiting to have sex until marriage or their long-term opinions of sexual activity. One of the reasons that I wanted to further discuss this issue was because I found something while reading that really struck me; it is a phenomenon I refer to as “abstinence amnesia.”

Majority of teens end up breaking these promises. According to a study done by Northern Kentucky University, it was revealed that 61 percent of students who made abstinence promises broke them. Furthermore, those who said they kept their pledges, 55 percent indicated they participated in other types of sexual activities (Associated Baptist Press). The survey detailed information for 527 Northern Kentucky students, all of whom participated in the True Love Waits abstinence program. Of these, 16 percent had made pledges not to have sex until marriage. According to this survey, pledge-breakers delayed sex for about one year longer than non-pledging teens. But pledge-makers who became pledge-breakers were less likely to use protection, such as condoms, when first having sex. This information differs slightly than the last study I discussed, which stated that the age of onset for sexual activity was the same between pledgers and non-pledgers. However, the finding that non-pledgers are less likely to use protection during sex still held true in this study.

Not only are students not sticking with these pledges that they make, but a shocking number of students who have taken the pledge deny that they ever did; this is what I refer to as abstinence amnesia. According to this study, after a year 50 percent of the kids who took this pledge denied that they had ever taken it, and after five years, that number jumped to 84 percent (Berman). This phenomenon is better known as collective amnesia. Since many programs force students to make these pledges in front of a group, usually their classroom, there is peer pressure to take the pledge. Therefore, months or years later they forget these pledges ever existed in their lives.

It’s strange to think that not only are these promises proved to be ineffective, but they are not even remembered after several months. What does this say about the abstinence-only programs which are being today to youth in school? Clearly, we need to take a closer look at sex education in schools and evaluate the programs so we can educate students with programs which help prepare teens. 
 Works Cited:

Associated Baptist Press. “Teens Break No-sex Vows, Study Suggests; Some Say Oral Sex Not Sex.” Christian Century Vol. 120. Issue 26. 12/27/2003. Pg 14.
 
Berman, Laura. Co-host: Vieira, Meredith. “Interview: Laura Berman Speaks About Study of Sexual Behavior of Teens who make Abstinence Pledges.” NBC News: Today. NBC Universal, Inc. 12/29/2008.
 

Studies Show Virginity Pledges to be Ineffective November 15, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 5:11 PM

Virginity pledges are in wide use through that United States and even in other countries. Yet time after time studies taken that compare teens who have taken pledges to teens who have not taken pledges show that there is no difference in the sexual activity of the two groups. The age of onset is relatively the same, number of partners also tends to have a similar total, and they have the same amount of sexual activity. So why are these pledges still being used in abstinence-only education programs? Or perhaps maybe the better question is: why are abstinence programs being used at all?

A recent report, done by Janet Elise Rosenbaum, a postdoctoral fellow at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, compared a total of 934 teenagers, 289 of which had taken a pledge of abstinence until marriage and 645 who had not. These teens were then matched up based on similarities of their religious back ground, attitude towards sexual activities, thoughts on marriage, and more. The overwhelming conclusion was that there was no difference in the age the individuals starting having sex or the number of partners each had by a certain age. Even worse, the study showed that the only significant difference between the two groups was that the groups of teenaged pledgers were less likely to use any form of birth control, including condoms, than their non-pledging counterparts (Samuels). This study was taken in February 2008 and the results hold true today. More information on Rosenbaum and her five-year study can be found here.

While abstinence-only programs  and their virginity pledges may not lead to a higher amount of sexual activity among teens, they may increase the amount of unsafe sex (Barlow). As we all know, unsafe sex can lead to pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases, some of which are deadly. Therefore, it is logical to say that virginity pledges cause harm to youth around the globe, and to the communities which house such programs. Abstinence-only programs have failed to provide youth with information they needed to protect themselves from pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and may in fact increase their risk of transmitting an infection.

 These pledges make teens nonchalant about the use of birth control and it is wreaking havoc within these communities. Teens are unaware of how to protect themselves, don’t care about protecting themselves or their partner, and aren’t prepared when the time comes for needing protection. Ineffective isn’t a strong enough word to describe virginity pledges of abstinence-only curriculums, dangerous is much more accurate.

Works Cited:

Barlow, D. “Sex Ed. Redux, Redux, Redux.” Education Digest. Vol. 74, Issue 6. February 2009. Pg. 55-58.

Samuels, C. “Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers.” Education Week. Vol. 28, Issue 16. 1/7/2009. Pg. 5.

 

Exploring Virginity Pledges November 8, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 11:55 PM

During the time I have spent composing this blog, I have run into a lot of information involving the methodologies of abstinence-only education curriculums. One aspect of these teaching methods that sticks out in my mind, is virginity pledges. For those that are new here, a virginity pledge is a promise than a teen, usually in high school, makes which states either verbally or in writing that they will remain abstinent until marriage. This practice occurs not only at private schools, but public schools as well. Feel free to check out this post that I made a few weeks back for more information on what exactly a virginity pledge is. Anyways, the more I read about virginity pledge programs the more interested I became. I wanted to identify their purpose and discover whether or not they yielded any meaningful results. I read more articles, journals, mission statements and personal accounts relating to the pledges and the things I discovered were very intriguing.

An additional piece of information about virginity pledges is that when a youth originally takes the oath, they are rewarded with a small token of favor, usually a ring. These rings, commonly known as “purity rings” are meant to serve as a constant reminder of the promise that this person made to themselves (and usually to God) to remain “pure” until marriage (Chicago Tribune).There are two common programs in the United States which utilize virginity pledges. The first is a group called “The Silver Ring Thing,” named after the jewelry present that they offer in exchange for wearing a chastity belt. The second is a program entitled “True Love Waits,” which emphasizes that teens need not be prepared for sexual intercourse because if your partner is the one you are meant to be with then they will be able to wait with you until the day of your marriage to consummate your relationship. Both of these programs do not offer any information about condoms, birth control methods, or various types of sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

I have so much to say about various studies done on teens who have taken these abstinence vows compared to teens that have not and their resulting sexual activity levels. Even more interesting is a phenomenon I like to call “abstinence amnesia,” which I’ll discuss in detail later. And of course there is a lot of information to share about these programs which spread the message of using virginity pledges in schools. Over the next few blog posts I will discuss all of these topics and hopefully illuminate you to the issues involved in programs which utilize virginity pledges.

Works Cited:
 
Anonymous. “Teens Ignore Virginity Pledges.” Chicago Tribune. Chicago, IL. Jan 10, 2009. Pg. 20.
 

A Little Info Won’t Hurt… October 25, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 11:08 PM

Obviously I choose to talk a lot about current affairs of sex education both in the United States and around the world. The legislation and reforms that are in existence and related to this topic are very important to me and make excellent topics to discuss here. However, since my blog is all about sex education and the need for it to be made available to all teens in school, I figured I might as well give out some basic education information that should (in my mind) be included into all current school curriculum for sex education classes.

Though I’m sure readers are perfectly aware of several birth control and protection methods and how they work, I feel that it’s best to start at the beginning. The most common form of birth control is the condom. For the most part, condoms are made of latex and about 99% of all condoms on the market are made from latex. Should you be unfortunate enough to have an allergy to latex, there are some companies which make condoms from sheepskin. These sheepskin condoms are not quite as effective in preventing STI’s but work just as well as latex for preventing pregnancies. The first thing to do when planning on using a condom as your method of protection is to read the expiration date on the wrapper. Most condoms last a long time but you don’t want to take the chance that it is expired because of it is then the condom is more likely to tear. Also, if you need to use a form of lubrication make sure it is water based and not oil based because oil based lubricants will break down the condom and may cause a rip. If you need further directions on how to put on a condom please consult the packaging of the condom so that I may avoid being too graphic here. There are also female versions of a stereotypical condom which are usually just as effective in preventing STI’s and pregnancy as the male condom.

The second most common form of birth control is an oral contraceptive that is taken by a female once a day, everyday, at the same time. Better known as “the Pill” this medication regulates hormones in the uterus and either prevents an egg from being released by the ovaries or makes it impossible for an egg to attach to the inner-uterine wall so that it can not be inseminated. There are many forms of the pill and some allow females to skip monthly periods all together. All birth control pills can possibly can dangerous side effects so it is necessary to get a prescription from a doctor to receive them. In California it is even possible to aquire free birth control pills from local clinics, such as Planned Parenthood. The Pill is extremely effective and when taken correctly (once everyday at the same time) and fewer than 1 out of 100 women will get pregnant if they always use the pill as directed. However, the pill does not protect against STI’s.

There are even more options available to sexually active partners today. For women, these options include injections, hormonal implants, and the patch which all typically prevent ovulation each month. For men, there is a pill that has been developed which stops sperm from being able to fertilize an egg I strongly feel that protection is the responsibility of both partners which are engaging in sexual activity. You can’t expect one partner to always be prepared and look after the best interests of the other. For more information, readers should check out the Discovery Health website, it gives a lot of useful information for people of all ages. Stay safe.

 

Minnesota Governor Rejects Money for Sex Ed Programs October 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 6:28 PM

You would think that in this economy, the idea of free money for education of youth would be welcomed with open arms. For most communities this would even be a reason to celebrate, but not for the state of Minnesota. Recently, the governor of Minnesota, Tim Pawlenty, denied a grant of $850,000 of federal money for public schools because it had to be spent of comprehensive sex education classes and programs. The stipend was specified to be used for “medically accurate comprehensive sex ed,” including all forms of contraceptive methods.

In another economically confounding move, the governor decided to apply for grants which require teaching abstinence-only education and will force the state to pay $397,000 to cover the rest of the costs. Pawlenty claims that he did this because he did not support the health care bill which is where the comprehensive sex education money was coming from. However, the abstinence-only education money is coming from legislation within that exact same bill. Did he really think that people wouldn’t notice that the money would be coming from the same place? Claims that he doesn’t support the bill so he won’t take the FREE money from it make no sense when you take money from it anyways.

Clearly Pawlenty doesn’t care where it is that this money is coming from, what he cares about is that students are not being taught comprehensive sex education involving contraceptive methodologies. This is not only idiotic, but very dangerous to the teens of Minnesota. Teen pregnancy and rate of STI’s are on the rise in Minnesota, and they are also much higher than the national average.

Clearly the abstinence-only programs were not working for them in the past and they will not work in the future, so why not take this opportunity? Why not take $850,000 of free federal money for the education of teens throughout the state? Why not better the health education and inform teens of their options when it comes to protection?  Because Tim Pawlenty wants to advance in his party and cares more about his political standings than the health and lives of teens in his state. How disappointing.

 

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished October 10, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — danaderas @ 11:48 PM

Recently, I posted a blog about the current state of affairs of the sex education going on in Ghana. Currently, Ghana’s stance on sex education is that only programs which promote abstinence until marriage can be used in schools. This was instated due to their high rate of HIV transmission in hopes that an abstinence message would lower the amount of spreading the virus. This story also comes from abroad and is in a similar vein regarding issues with HIV and AIDS.

The country of Uzbekistan recently adopted an abstinence-only sex education program (although it would be more accurate to say that they have made sex education illegal). While this news upsets me, it is not the news for which I am writing. A local Uzbek man by the name of Maxim Popov was arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison for continuing his work on sexually transmitted infection awareness and prevention even after the passing of the abstinence-only legislature.

According to court officials he was being tried for other crimes including “…embezzlement of funds, involving minors in anti-social behavior, molesting individuals, involving individuals with drugs, and tax evasion.” However, the courts refuse to show any record of these accusations or proof of their existence. The true story is that Popov had written a book entitled, “Healthy Lifestyles: A Guidance for Teachers” in order to better instruct community leaders on preventing HIV. This book was supported by UN, USAID, UNICEF, PSI, Global Fund and others. After it’s release to the public, he was arrested for supposedly embezzling funds from these donors. It has become clear to several activist groups around the world of why Popov is being held by the government. His work within the community of helping to prevent the spread of STI’s and HIV was deemed as “sex education” and for this he was condemned.

I can see no logical reason for the government feeling threatened by a man and his colleges who were simply trying to provide help to a community in need. Not only will taking him away from the people in need make the situation more dire, but it will probably only add to the problem which they are trying to prevent. Maxim Popov was doing great work and now he must suffer due to the inability to accept factual evidence that preparation and education are the only sure ways to attempt to lower the rate of STI transmission. I guess it’s true that no good deed goes unpunished.

 

 
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