Last month we saw articles in every major newspaper about the new report that one in four teen girls has an STD. People were shocked. This week we’re asking for your response and I’ll be blogging about the subject all week.
I have to admit… I wasn’t surprised by the results of this report in the slightest. What has surprised me in this highly sexualized culture is that we haven’t seen this report sooner.
If you missed the report, here’s a snippet from U.S. News:
More than 3 million teenaged girls have at least one sexually transmitted disease (STD), a new government study suggests.
The most severely affected are African-American teens. In fact, 48 percent of African-American teenaged girls have an STD, compared with 20 percent of white teenaged girls.
“These numbers translate into 3.2 million young women nationwide who are infected with an STD,” Forhan said. “This means that far too many young women are at risk of the serious health effects of untreated STDs, including infertility and cervical cancer.”
These common STDs include human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, herpes simplex virus and trichomoniasis, Forhan said.
So who is to blame?
It’s probably not too difficult to guess who Planned Parenthood is blaming:
Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said the study shows that “the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price.” Huffington Post, 3/11/2008
Let’s hold off any analysis of abstinence education for a second… but we will be returning to the subject.
What about the influence of the media? Are they to blame? You might remember last month when I blogged about lyrics and I noted that in 2007, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) revealed that “teens who listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse…as teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.” (Houston Chronicle)
But is that where the blame rests? Just the media?
Where are parents?
Let me assure you. The BEST abstinence and or sex education of any kind is from parents who talk with their kids honestly about sex– an ongoing conversation. Sure, we, as a society can’t count on this communication to always happen at home, so we need to provide sex education in other venues as well. But do parents really see this ongoing communication in the home as their responsibility?
What best equips kids for these sexual decisions? What kind of sex education can prevent 1 in 4 girls from getting a disease that will probably have permanent consequences?
I ask you this, because this week in this blog we’ll be looking at the effectiveness of abstinence education, the influence of the media and other issues that contribute toward this “1 in 4” stat.