Since 1997, the Federal Government has spent $1 billion to teach public school students that the only certain way to avoid out of wedlock pregnancy is to NEVER have sex. Plus, a little known provision in the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act will provide another $250 million dollars over the next five years.
However -- the effectiveness of abstinence-only education is a myth.
It's no more real than Star Wars' planet Alderon.
Mississippi has the highest teen birth rate, 55 per 1000. New Hampshire has the lowest -- 16. Guess which state requires all students be taught about condoms and contraception, and which is teaching them that condoms have a 30 percent failure rate and that sex outside of marriage may have harmful psychological and physiological effects?
Public schools are failing millions of young people in the area of sex education by sending them not with a knife into a gun-fight... but rather, out into the world armed with nothing what-so-ever to protect themselves other than with the word "no." And we know how effective that was with drugs.
And why are we failing public school students? Why are we purposefully keeping vital education information away from young people?
Too many adults are scared of sex. They think sex is dirty. Wrong. Ugly. They think sex is obscene. Offensive. They think sex is something only married heterosexual people should reluctantly do in their bed, with the lights off, under the covers to make a baby.
But only if there isn't a re-run on of Walker: Texas Ranger.
Too many adults are scared to talk about sex. They're scared to read about sex. Too many adults are scared to let anyone tell their kids about sex. They're scared to see sex on TV and the web. And it's not enough for them to close their eyes to sex, put their fingers in their ears while simultaneously shouting "la la la la la I can't hear you." They demand that their neighbors not talk about or see sex, either. And if the neighbors won't comply voluntarily, they get the federal government to make it the law of the land.
This silence... this being scared... this Puritan world-view has created an enormous vacuum of preparation, foundation and knowledge.
And yet this vacuum will be filled. Why?
Because kids are going to be exposed to things kids have always been exposed to. They're going to hear about orgasms but won't have any idea that when they're mature enough to handle the responsibilities, an orgasm is a magical feeling you can share with someone you love on a Hawaiian shore just as the sun sets. Or even in the bathroom with someone you just met at Starbucks.
Kids are also going to steal glimpses of people having sex on the web and have no idea that pornography is entertainment designed to arouse -- and not a set of instructions on how to satisfy your partner on the pool table.
This vacuum of knowledge will also fill with more myths -- and soon girls think they can get pregnant sitting on a public toilet seat, boys think that if they have a big penis that's what makes them a "man"... and everyone thinks it's OK to post topless photos of their female classmates on the web and call them sluts.
So, to all you people out there who are scared... I say: I get it and it's not your fault. Really! The reason you're scared and not equipped to handle the truly icky discussions about sex that kids need to hear is because when you were kids, your parents and your community and your church didn't properly teach you about sex, either. It's a problem that goes back about two-thousand and twelve years.
I know how difficult it is to change behavior that's been engrained in our DNA once we reach adulthood... no matter how many times over 17 years my wife asks me to put the cap back on the toothpaste, I just can't seem to remember to do it. And I think that now, she accepts that.
So, if you're one of the people who's more comfortable with their fingers in their ears yelling "la la la" no problem. If you don't want to see or hear about sex, turn off your TV and unplug your computer.
However -- at the very least be a responsible parent and let teachers in the public school do what they're supposed to: prepare our kids to properly handle the future by teaching them the foundations of education: math, science, history and even sex.
Follow Jon Hotchkiss on Twitter: www.twitter.com/hotchkiss_jon