For those of you I work with and somehow neglected to tell this story to, I was once given the “Profilactic Princess” superlative when I was an RA.
Don’t laugh, that’s a true story!
I was on the Sexual Health and Safety Task Force (affectionately referred to as the Condom Committee) for two years working to put free condoms in the residence halls. I had so many cohorts on this task force, including my ex-roomie. It. Was. Awesome.
Really, it was. Because not only was it hilarious sitting next to super-important people in ResLife during the -ahem- real life application demonstration, I was actually very passionate about the cause. I have good arguments for why making safe sex as accessible as possible is so important. I have yet to meet an argument against it that I can’t defeat (somewhere someone is saying “Challenge Accepted!” I await your reply with bated breath).
So you can understand how excruciatingly painful it is for me to work in a position where it’s basically against the rules to advise students to practice safe sex, or to answer any of their (what I consider basic) questions.
I know, I know, I teach middle school, they should still be playing with Barbies and Pokemon. Guess what – they’re not. Their neutered Barbie and Ken dolls can only teach them so much about life, and until someone comes out with a “Virginia Vagina” and “Foreskin Fred” doll, they’re going to keep looking elsewhere when their curiosity peaks.
And right now? Despite the fact that I, too, believe they’re too young to start doing the horizontal tango, sex is the most interesting topic in the world to them. They’re turning to television, movies, the internet (so, you know, porn), and their friends – who probably know even less than they do. And the messages they’re getting are romanticizing sex without warning them about much at all. Even with the abstinence arguments, church-driven or secular, who are you going to listen to – Jersey Shore or an adult that you can’t think of sexually without throwing up?
Yes, I follow district policy. It kills me, but I do. Because I value my job and the positive influence I can have on them in the classroom. Plus, as I keep reminding myself, these aren’t my kids – I’m not allowed to make decisions about what they learn when. But it’s still not ideal, especially when I KNOW that they’re sexually active and don’t have all the necessary information.
If my arguments aren’t swaying, have a look at the best infographic I’ve come across in years.
This is just upsetting, in my opinion. But it isn’t all bad news on the teen sexuality front. I promise.
There’s an article on Slate today on the results of a new study that gives me hope, so long as people will acknowledge its viability.
Guess what, folks?
2010 ranked an historic low in teen birth rates.
If that’s not awesome news, I don’t know what is. And why is there this decrease?
Well, according to the Guttmacher Institute, “While there was no significant change over those years in the overall proportion of females aged 15–19 who were sexually experienced or engaging in sexual activity, there was a dramatic shift in teen contraceptive use.”
I’m sorry, what? What was that? Oh, teens are having the same amount of sex but they’re doing it safely? I wonder what we have to thank for that…maybe…
COMPREHENSIVE SEX ED?
Oh my Trojan, it’s true! Sex ed actually WORKS.
And this isn’t some teeny-tiny decrease…it was a 9% drop from 2009 to 2010, and if that’s not impressive enough for you, it’s a 44% drop from the numbers in 1991. And I’d also like to point out that one of the dangers that I get overly concerned with is that these children born to teen parents are doomed to repeat their parents’ mistakes. But it looks like a lot of those babies from 1991 may have made it out of their teen years without procreating (they’re 21 now). Condoms FTW!
In fact, so far the studies are showing that not only are teens using birth control, they’re using it effectively and sometimes, God bless them, they’re even using more than one method. So there ARE parents or educational agencies out there that are making it clear to kids what they need to stay awesome and baby-free.
Because if you ask me…my kids are pretty much babies themselves. And if I’m not ready to have a kid, then my students sure aren’t.