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crypto and public policy

Abstinence Education Doesn’t Work

Filed under: Policy — February 1, 2005 @ 4:11 pm

The state of Texas has just discovered that abstinence education doesn’t work. This isn’t surprising to those who have some basic understanding of human biology and psychology (i.e. those who remember their high school sex ed class). But at least now, it’s scientifically established.

So the question that presents itself is fairly straight-forward. If abstinence isn’t changing adolescents’ sexual behavior, shouldn’t we be doing our very best to make sure that the sex they are inevitably having is as safe as it can possibly be? Shouldn’t condoms be easily available to all? Maybe even for free in high schools?

The only reason that might lead someone to answer “no” to these questions is ideology. It’s one of the big issues on the table here. Are we really trying to help people by teaching them the information they need to make their own, truly informed decisions concerning safety? Or are we limiting what we teach in an ideologically-driven attempt to force people to behave in a way which we feel would be more appropriate?

More and more these days, people are confusing ideology and good policy. The role of science is dismissed in favor of ideology, on some disturbed premise that everything is opinion, and all opinions are equally valid.

Not everything is opinion. There are such things as facts. A number of adolescents will have sex. Condoms help prevent pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases with 99% reliability. These are facts. Any policy that ignores fact is just bone-headed ideology. We should demand policies based on fact, science, and a real desire to help people live their lives, not the life we choose for them.

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