public school inconsistency

September 16, 2008

It dawned on me today on the way to lunch that public schools in this area, namely those dealing with adolescent and pre-adolescent children, are built with an innate hypocrisy. We funnel information and knowledge at the kids at, sometimes, an alarming rate, hoping they will go into the world and use that information. There are two realms where we don’t do this: drug and sex education.

The LA Times reported in May 2006 that drug education programs, primarily those implemented widely though many public school systems, don’t work. Studies showed that students who participated in drug-resistance programs, like D.A.R.E., had little behavioral change toward illegal drug consumption compared to students not in any drug education program. Not only are some programs ineffective, but they oversimplify the problem. Social drinking, moderate use of over-the-counter medication, and use of anti-depressants are all sized down into one simple response: say no to drugs.

I can say I have been negatively affected by drug-education programs. When I was in high school, after being drilled to the fact that pills are a drug, I scolded a friend for taking 8 ibuprofren at a time. Hardly a deadly amount. I never drank until I was 19, and even now, I don’t see the point in it, but many friends of mine took the opposite reaction that I had, and went about drinking as early as 15. They had been introduced to drugs and alcohol at school. My own brother did the same thing.

At our schools, we use Worth the Wait, a sex education program that “educate[s] adolescents and adults on the consequences of teen sexual activity including the medical, social, economic, and legal impacts.” First off, there is no room for positive inference of the subject.

We see here that this program propagates the idea that condoms aren’t effective. This is simply not true. Condoms are the only means of contraception that are also an STI and STD preventative. True, they are not 100% effective, but they work.

In the excerpt linked above, the program states:

In fact, condoms have the highest failure rate of any birth control method. Condoms must be used consistently and correctly every time and even then, they are not foolproof. They leak, slip off, break and can have defects that cause failure. Some STDs are spread because a condom does not cover the entire genital area that can be affected by STDs. Condoms have been proven to greatly reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS if used every time. Condoms provide some limited protection for STDs such as herpes, gonorrhea, and chlamydia, but provide little to no protection for HPV.

There is inference here that condoms are ineffective as a whole. Let’s follow a train of thought:

I want to have sex.
Sex causes pregnancy or I might catch an STI, so I should use a condom.
Worth the wait says, condoms don’t protect against gonorrhea or chlamydia (see above)
I bet I could catch HIV that way.
I shouldn’t have sex.

Now, let me clarify. I think that teenagers have no business having sex, simply because of the emotional stresses it brings with it when it doesn’t go as planned. However, teens are gonna have sex anyway, so they might as well be shown all the facts. Besides, who says that vaginal or even anal intercourse is the only way to have sex. Students should be encouraged to, if they are going to have sex, have safer sex that won’t lead to pregnancy. And don’t get me started on homosexual sex education.

Anyway, here and here we see that abstinence programs are less than effective. While I would agree that abstinence is the best way to avoid pregnancy and STIs, the programs centered around this idea are not effective enough to spend tax dollars on.

On that note, why would any teenager who has sex dangled in front of him or her, only to tell them not to have it, stay abstinent. It’s like showing a hungry dog a piece of steak, but saying don’t eat it. Ethics and biology don’t have to conflict.



  1. I was lucky that I was raised by parents who were open, honest, and didn’t have their heads in the sand with regards to sex or drugs/alcohol, so I didn’t have to rely on the school’s crappy system. One of my big problems with drug/alcohol education is that so much is shown as blatant peer pressure. The “come on, you’ll be cool if you do” type of stuff. But in reality, I didn’t see that as much as I was simply around people who drank and smoked weed. They’d offer it to me on occasion, but there was never overt pressure. I think the subtle pressure of just seeing my friends do it was stronger than being pushed into anything.

    The sex education is just so screwy, largely because so many people are uncomfortable with the subject. Again, I was lucky to have great communication with my parents, but it’s sad to see how many kids blindly have sex armed with very little information.

  2. I think the bigest problem is there is no moral standard. People are so affraid of setting anything down as a “hey if you do this you are wrong, and you have no respect for yourself.” If you don’t have a moral standard you lose the sence of self accountability. Our world is so polluted with ” I am a person” and “I don’t care what you think of me.” that we fail to see how much it has actually hurts our younger generations.
    We have these problems because no one is held accountable for their actions in these socially sensitive areas. It may not be fair but life is not fair. At least with moral standards you show a bit of self control in the developmental stages in your teens. The consequences of a moral standard do cause, unfortunatly, people who do not meet the standard to be ostricized and outcasted. But our society makes those sacrifices everyday. This way it would be a lot less and we would hve people out htere looking for a way to help these people.
    NO system is going to work perfectly. It is just sad to think people are still going through what I went through.

  3. The only problem I see with that is: who gets to decide what the moral standard is?

  4. I don’t confuse “morals” with the issues of drugs and sex. “Morals” in my lexicon, have to do with how you treat others (thus, to me, the 9/11 attacks were immoral; the Iraq war is immoral; the Viet Nam was was immoral–and I stupidly served there).

    Why do people take drugs and have sex? Because it feels good and is fun. Are there reasons to be careful with these recreations (on account of potential consequences)? Yes, of course, but they have naught to do with morals unless someone who is, say, HIV positive, has a moral obligation not to risk someone else’s health, but that fits in my view of morals in my first statement above. Having sex with children does also.

    I’ve never done drugs. Why? Probably, honestly, because I was too chicken. Same with smoking. Self-preservation through cowardice, not morals, maybe.

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