If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. And again. And then once again. At a certain point you may have to stop and think about reassessing the way that you are trying to achieve your goal before trying again, however. For example, if I were trying to bake cookies and instead of putting the dough on a cookie sheet and putting that cookie sheet in the oven I put the cookie dough into the ears of a platypus, I should not be surprised when my repeated attempts to get cookies yield no cookies and an angry platypus. You would think that this would be the fate to face abstinence only education — it does not promote abstinence and most often leads to more pregnancy.
Only in the strange mind of Rick Perry, Republican candidate for President, does abstinence only education work — and in the face of the simple facts that Texas has the third highest rate of teen pregnancy in the United States, he had no explanation as to why this was the case.
When I was in high school, there were organizations that had different methods of pregnancy prevention ready to teach. One of them, of course, was avoiding pregnancy by abstinence. It is true that if you are abstinent, you have a one hundred percent chance of not getting pregnant. The key is, of course, actually staying abstinent! This is a lot to ask of teenagers, many of whom are struggling with hormonal issues and are ever surrounded by a media that is, if you haven’t noticed, driven by lust and sexual urges. Most of the popular shows on television regularly feature characters trying to bed one another — is it any wonder teens have sex on the mind even more than ever?
Being the father of a child that just recently turned one year old (on the 14th of December!) I have to wonder what the world is going to be like for young Chaim Yosef as he gets older. How many of his friends as he grows up will come from parents that practiced abstinence only pregnancy prevention and were, in fact, not meant to be brought into the world? “My parents didn’t intend on having me, but they were using abstinence only birth control and it didn’t work so well after they had sex for the first time…” That would be an awkward conversation.
I hope that abstinence only education withers as parents and educators realize that it just doesn’t work. Does abstinence education have a place in school? Absolutely — so long as it is one of many forms of birth control taught. Otherwise you just end up with more fodder for future Kardashian programming.