November 1, 2006
Protecting those vulnerable 19-29 year olds
Just because you’re old enough, it doesn’t mean you can. Especially if you’re in your 20s and not in a strong Christian marriage:
The federal government’s “no sex without marriage” message isn’t just for kids anymore.
Now the government is targeting unmarried adults up to age 29 as part of its abstinence-only programs, which include millions of dollars in federal money that will be available to the states under revised federal grant guidelines for 2007.
The government says the change is a clarification. But critics say it’s a clear signal of a more directed policy targeting the sexual behavior of adults.
“They’ve stepped over the line of common sense,” said James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit that supports sex education. “To be preaching abstinence when 90% of people are having sex is in essence to lose touch with reality. It’s an ideological campaign. It has nothing to do with public health.”
Abstinence education programs, which have focused on preteens and teens, teach that abstaining from sex is the only effective or acceptable method to prevent pregnancy or disease. They give no instruction on birth control or safe sex.
… Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the revision is aimed at 19- to 29-year-olds because more unmarried women in that age group are having children.
Government data released last month show that 998,262 births in 2004 were to unmarried women 19-29, the ages with the most births to unmarried women.
“The message is ‘It’s better to wait until you’re married to bear or father children,’ “ Horn said. “The only 100% effective way of getting there is abstinence.”
This may not be a wholly successful strategy. For one thing, the National Center for Health Statistics estimates that well over 90% of adults aged from 20 to 29 have already had sex—a finding largely confirmed by a global study published in today’s issue of The Lancet. For another, virginity and abstinence pledges have a long, proud record of abject failure, because young Christians tend to lie about their sex lives.
Still, no harm in trying.
TrackBack URL for this entry: