Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sixth Graders are Goofy. And They Are Having Sex.

A group of researchers out of the University of Texas School of Public Health recently published results of a recent study on the sexual behavior of middle school students. They looked at the rates of kids engaging in various sorts of intercourse (vaginal, anal, oral), and here's what they found: By age 12, 12% of students have had vaginal sex, 7.9% have had oral sex, 6.5 have had anal sex, and 4% have engaged in all three.

By age 12???

Meanwhile, schools are supposed to teach abstinence only, and not allowed to discuss safe sex.

If you start having sex at 12, how many partners have you had by the time you're in your mid-20s? How many opportunities to contract an STD? If you are having sex at 12, how likely is it that you really understand the implications of catching an STD? I'm thinking you don't.

The study goes on to note that a third of these kids aren't using condoms, and -- seriously -- a quarter of them have had 4 or more partners.

I understand reluctance around the issue of providing sex education to kids. I don't want to give anyone tacit approval either. But, come on. Isn't part of our responsibility as parents, as educators, as adults, to make sure that our children are safe?? Clearly these children are engaging in unsafe activities. And the adults are preaching Just Say No and withholding life-saving information.

My department gives a HIV/AIDS prevention program targeted at IV drug users in the county jail. On a recent visit over there, I had a 19 year old girl ask me questions about her recent chlamydia diagnosis. "I just don't understand how I caught this," she told me. "I've only been with 17 guys."

I kid you not.

Ok, it is easy to poke fun at that, but she was serious, she truly did not understand STD transmission. The thing is, a lot of other young people don't know either. I've had high school kids tell me that you can do it anally and still be a virgin. They didn't know anal sex was riskier than vaginal.

It's time to rethink this whole abstinence only stance and provide real sexual education to our children.

1 comment:

  1. That's it. I am not letting my daughter leave the house. Ever.