Correlation between higher teen pregnancy rates and abstinence-only education not a coincidence

While I was looking for the most important news stories of the last two weeks for my AP US Government class, I ran across a picture of a young boy holding a newly born baby girl. At first, I thought the picture was adorable, but my reaction soon turned to horror as I was informed that the boy was not her brother as I had previously assumed. He was her father. This boy looked like he was eight, maybe nine tops. I quickly scrolled down and found out the boy was thirteen, which made him only twelve at the time of conception. I was dumbfounded because most twelve years olds I know are not out having sex nor are they even capable of reproducing. Now this case is a little extreme, but it highlights a bigger existing problem: teen pregnancy and the failure of abstinence-only sexual education programs. Seriously nonbelievers, teenagers have, do and will have sex before they are married. This is a commonly accepted fact, and nothing in the foreseeable future is going to change it. According to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy, from 2005 to 2006, there was a 3% increase in the number of teen birth rates or the number of teenage pregnancies. The National Campaign continued to conclude that this was the first increase in teenage birth rates after 14 years of steady decline. So why the sudden increase? In 2004, then President George W. Bush authorized nearly $170 million to fund groups that are strictly abstinence-only, which went into effect in 2005. With the help of a Republican-controlled Congress, President Bush made a large investment in something that simply does not work. Along with the increase in teen birth rates, there has also been an increase in the number of teens with STIs, or sexually transmitted infections. According to the Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a study in 2008 found that 1 in 4 teenage girls has a sexually transmitted disease. Obviously, abstinence-only sexual education programs are not working. Still, critics have their doubts of whether abstinence-only programs fail. For the answer, one doesn’t need to look any further than the world of Jamie-Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin. Jamie-Lynn, who became pregnant at age 17, was quoted as saying she was “shocked” when she found out she was pregnant. Seriously? Most 17 year olds know that when you have unprotected sex, you will probably become pregnant, but apparently Jamie-Lynn did not know this. Another pregnant teen in the news, Bristol Palin, who also became pregnant at age 17, has even said that abstinence is “unrealistic”. Unfortunately, her mother, maverick Sarah Palin, vehemently disagrees. Palin strongly opposes comprehensive sex education programs that are not abstinence-only. She also opposes spending taxpayer dollars to distribute contraceptives in schools. The stances of Sarah Palin and Lynn Spears, who is also anti-sex education, seem to not be working. There are thousands of examples just like these where the parent’s abstinence-only beliefs do not carry on to their children. The biggest problem with abstinence-only programs, other than being abstinence-only, is a handful of them preach lies to students. These students are then sent out into the world believing misconceptions and stereotypes. A report conducted by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) found that the lies ranged from women who have an abortion are more prone to suicide to HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread through tears and sweat. Why is money being allocated to programs that teach factually incorrect information to students? I don’t know, because ignorance only makes us more vulnerable and susceptible to the real dangers in the world, while knowledge prepares us for the real world. With the prevalence of teenage pregnancies and STIs, it would be a mistake for the US government to not invest money in real sexual education programs. In the long run, the investment would save taxpayers more money and cut down on the number of children born to unprepared teenage mothers and fathers.