Teens and young adults are having less sex and should be commended for doing so. In a study conducted by The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention between 2006 and 2008 reported that 29 percent of female youth aged 15-24 and 27 percent of males in the same age group had never had sex. That is an increase from the 22 percent for both sexes in 2002.
These figures are promising since they indicate a considerable increase in teen and young adult responsibility in a relatively short time-frame. It is difficult for young individuals to consider long-term consequences of their sexual choices, but the fact of the matter is that if people have sex with multiple short-term partners through high school and college and get married in their mid-twenties, I find it difficult to expect them to be loyal to their spouse for the rest of their life.
In other words, having sex with whoever happens to come by for the first 10 years or so after people become sexually active and then expecting to be faithful to one person during the 50 or so years after that is a pipe dream.
While these statistics are certainly promising, explaining them is a challenge. The fact that the aforementioned statistics were compiled during the Bush administration support the theory that abstinence-only sex education should be credited since it was heavily pushed during those years, but data on vaginal intercourse among never-married adolescents has declined since 1988. This means that while abstinence-only sex education may have played a part in reducing teen and young adult sex, it is apparently far from the only contributing factor.
In fact, teaching abstinence alone is not held in high esteem by many experts in sex education. Avert, an organization aimed at combatting HIV and AIDS, states that “attempts to impose narrow moralistic views about sex and sexuality on young people through sex education have failed.” They, like many sex educators, believe information about safe and responsible sex, even before marriage, must be included in successful sexual education programs rather than just abstinence.
Despite the opinion of many sex educators and the abundance of evidence to support their view, I must disagree with this conclusion on two grounds. One is that proponents of “safe sex” conveniently forget that if “safe sex” results in fewer negative consequences, then people will have sex more often 8212; if people are less likely to suffer negative consequences from something then they will be less reluctant to partake in it. This will mitigate, and perhaps even cancel out the lower risk of any one given instance of intercourse since the increase in sex only increases the risk of STDs and unwanted pregnancies correspondingly.
Furthermore, sex education is so concerned with reducing STDs and unwanted pregnancies that they ignore the long-term repercussions of what they consider to be “safe sex.” Sexual promiscuity before marriage significantly decreases the chances that one will be faithful during the marriage and not get divorced later, according to an article on livestrong.com.
In light of these facts, abstinence is the best method for preventing STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and the expectation of a faithful marriage that will last a lifetime. Since these statistics are of high school- and college-aged youth, it is important that we consider the consequences of our actions and make appropriate changes. Even if it takes a major lifestyle change, it will ultimately act in our best interest in the long run.
Jack Enright is a sophomore political science and economics double major from Tomball.