October 27, 2010
A new analysis of teen sexual behavior in New York City offers some troubling/fascinating/instructive insights — and not just of the “only in New York” variety.
Published in the latest Pediatrics, the study found (for one thing) that among sexually active adolescent boys and girls, nearly one in ten had had a same-sex experience. But how many called themselves “gay”? Well, of the teens who’d had at least one same-sex partner, 38.9 percent answered “heterosexual or straight.” Which is fine in a hey-who-needs-labels sense — and hooray for experimentation, when that’s what it is — but not fine in a hey-who-needs-condoms sense. That is, the study also found that teens reporting partners of both sexes also reported higher-than-average rates of risky sexual practices, such as not using a condom during intercourse.
Hmm. Especially among those in the “I’m not really gay” camp, could there be a related sense that “it’s not really sex”? And does “I’m not really gay” stem from “Gay’s not really OK?” (“Even in New York”?) “These are kids in New York City where there’s more awareness and perhaps acceptance of non-heterosexual behavior, and you’re still finding such high reports of risk behavior and violence,” Laura Lindberg, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute, told the AP.
Ah yes, also violence. Students reporting same-sex partners also reported higher rates of dating violence. What’s going on there? Back to the AP:
Thomas Krever, executive director of the Hetrick-Martin Institute, a youth advocacy organization that runs an alternative high school for gay teens in New York City, said the survey results did not surprise him.
Many teens with partners of both sexes lack supportive adults and peers in their lives and may experience depression because social stigma, Krever said.
“Young people who are exhibiting characteristics of depression and lower self-worth can indeed place themselves in more risky situations including risky sexual practices,” he said.
1. As advocates continue to stress, sex ed has to focus not on identity/orientation, but on behavior. No matter what you call what you do, it’s safer with a condom.
2. Let kids know we accept them as they are and that they are loved matter what.
, dating violence
, New York City
, Rabbi Andy Bachman
, safe sex
, sex ed
, teen sex
February 3, 2010
The New York Times reports that a study of middle-school students has “found for the first time that abstinence-only education helped to delay their sexual initiation.” Uh oh? The finding “is already beginning to shake up the longstanding debate over how best to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”
Okay okay! Nobody panic! Keep reading.
“[T]he abstinence-only classes in the Jemmott study…unlike the federally supported abstinence programs now in use, did not advocate abstinence until marriage. The classes also did not portray sex negatively or suggest that condoms are ineffective, and contained only medically accurate information. [This] abstinence-only course was designed for the research, and is not in current use in schools.” [Emphasis added.]
Well, there you go. Look, the debate has never been about abstinence-only vs. “…and, for your homework, please have sex this afternoon.” It’s moralistic, inaccurate abstinence-only vs. comprehensive and realistic: please wait; if you don’t, please be responsible. Though there are those who will misrepresent this research as surely as they misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms, it’s actually yet another vote in our favor.
Update: This (PDF) just in from our heroes at Guttmacher: “While the evaluated program is the first abstinence-only intervention to demonstrate this positive impact in a randomized control trial, it was not a rigid ‘abstinence-only-until-marriage’ program of the type that, until this year, received significant federal funding. The evaluation, therefore, adds important new information to the question of “what works” in sex education, but it essentially leaves intact the significant body of evidence showing that abstinence-only- until-marriage programming that met previous federal guidelines is ineffective.”
January 26, 2010
BREAKING: Our friends over at the esteemed Guttmacher Institute report news that’s sadly about as unsurprising as the lamented John Edwards being Quinn’s dad. That is: “For the first time in more than a decade, the nation’s teen pregnancy rate rose 3% in 2006 [the most recent source of data], reflecting increases in teen birth and abortion rates of 4% and 1%, respectively.”
2006: Let’s plot that on a timeline of SURELY UNRELATED events in U.S. history. Aha: Turns out a long-term decline in teen pregnancy — due in part to increased contraceptive use among teens — flattened out and then reversed…what’s this? The decline reversed at the same time that the Bush administration and Congress ramped up funding for rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that are prohibited from discussing the benefits of contraception. Coincidence, or…? Yeah, gotta be coincidence.
“After more than a decade of progress, this reversal is deeply troubling,” says Heather Boonstra, Guttmacher Institute senior public policy associate. “It coincides with an increase in rigid abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, which received major funding boosts under the Bush administration. A strong body of research shows that these programs do not work. Fortunately, the heyday of this failed experiment has come to an end with the enactment of a new teen pregnancy prevention initiative that ensures that programs will be age-appropriate, medically accurate and, most importantly, based on research demonstrating their effectiveness.”
And: “It is clearly time to redouble our efforts to make sure our young people have the information, interpersonal skills and health services they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies and to become sexually healthy adults,” said Lawrence Finer, Guttmacher’s director of domestic research.
For starters, we’ll need to let them read the dictionary.
(Click here (PDF) for the full report, “U.S. Teenage Pregnancies, Births and Abortions: National and State Trends and Trends by Race and Ethnicity,” and click here for Guttmacher’s Facts on American Teens’ Sexual and Reproductive Health. Also, find Guttmacher on Facebook and Twitter to learn more.)
May 22, 2008
You know how teens have oral (or, wow, anal) sex instead of SEX sex in order to maintain that they are “technical” virgins? (As in, “I did not have sex with that hockey player”?)
Well, turns out the grown-ups had it wrong. Again.