Talking To Kids — Does It Work?

It seems that radio stations play the “talk to your kids about drugs” ads almost as much as they do music these days.  Aside from the fact that they aren’t music, that’s not a bad thing.  After all, I don’t think anyone would argue that parents shouldn’t talk to their kids about drugs or that doing so would lead to increased abuse.  Mind you, it’s certainly not foolproof prevention, but it also certainly can’t hurt.  So why is it that parents don’t feel the same way about sex?

Now, talking to kids about drugs or sex isn’t a guarantee that kids won’t try them out, but it turns out that not doing so makes a big difference.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report showing dramatic disparities in the number of teen pregnancies across different regions of the country.  Notably, the states with the highest rates of teen pregnancy — Arkansas, Mississippi, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas — were those that have emphasized abstinence-only education for teenagers.

According to Leslie Kantor, national education director of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, “the report demonstrates that the surest way to reduce teenage pregnancy is to provide young people with comprehensive, medically accurate sex education, and doing so is especially urgent for African-Americans and Latino teens, who are getting pregnant more frequently than other young people.”

I don’t understand why anyone would think that simply telling a teenager not to do something and not explaining anything more would actually accomplish anything other than getting them more interested in doing whatever it is you don’t want them to do.  Teenagers are naturally contrary and rebellious — it’s part of the process of maturing.  Throw in the biological urges and the constant use of sex in the media, and there’s no way abstinence-only education could possibly work.  And if you need any more convincing, just ask Bristol Palin.

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