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Old 02-16-2005, 02:22 AM   #1
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Bush's Sex Scandal

Bush's Sex Scandal
By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

Published: February 16, 2005


'm sorry to report a sex scandal in the heart of the Bush administration. Worse, it doesn't involve private behavior, but public conduct.

You see, for all the carnage in President Bush's budget, one program is being showered with additional cash - almost three times as much as it got in 2001. It's "abstinence only" sex education, and the best research suggests that it will cost far more lives than the Clinton administration's much more notorious sex scandal.

Mr. Bush means well. But "abstinence only" is a misnomer that in practice is an assault on sex education itself. There's a good deal of evidence that the result will not be more young rosy-cheeked virgins - it will be more pregnancies, abortions, gonorrhea and deaths from AIDS.

Look, I'm all for abstinence education. I support the booming abstinence industry as it peddles panties and boxers decorated with stop signs (at www.abstinence.net), and "Pet Your Dog, Not Your Date" T-shirts.

Abstinence education is great because it helps counteract the peer pressure that often leaves teenagers with broken hearts - and broken health.

For that reason, almost all sex-ed classes in America already encourage abstinence. But abstinence-only education isn't primarily about promoting abstinence - it's about blindly refusing to teach contraception.

To get federal funds, for example, abstinence-only programs are typically barred by law from discussing condoms or other forms of contraception - except to describe how they can fail. So kids in these programs go all through high school without learning anything but abstinence, even though more than 60 percent of American teenagers have sex before age 18.

In the old days, social conservatives simply fought any mention of sex. In 1906, The Ladies' Home Journal published articles about venereal disease - and 75,000 readers canceled their subscriptions. Congress banned the mailing of family planning information, and Margaret Sanger was jailed in 1916 for selling a birth control pamphlet to an undercover policewoman.

But silence about sex only nurtured venereal diseases (one New York doctor, probably exaggerating, claimed in 1904 that 60 percent of American men had syphilis or gonorrhea), so sex education gradually gained ground. Then social conservatives had a brilliant idea: instead of fighting sex ed directly, they campaigned for abstinence-only programs that eviscerated any discussion of contraception.

That shrewd approach succeeded. In 1988, a survey by the Alan Guttmacher Institute found that only 2 percent of sex-ed teachers used an abstinence-only approach. Now, the institute says, a quarter of them do.

Other developed countries focus much more on contraception. The upshot is that while teenagers in the U.S. have about as much sexual activity as teenagers in Canada or Europe, Americans girls are four times as likely as German girls to become pregnant, almost five times as likely as French girls to have a baby, and more than seven times as likely as Dutch girls to have an abortion. Young Americans are five times as likely to have H.I.V. as young Germans, and teenagers' gonorrhea rate is 70 times higher in the U.S. than in the Netherlands or France.

Some studies have claimed that abstinence-only programs work, but researchers criticize the studies for being riddled with flaws. A National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy task force examined the issue and concluded: "There do not currently exist any abstinence-only programs with strong evidence that they either delay sex or reduce teen pregnancy."

Worse, there's some evidence that abstinence-only programs lead to increases in unprotected sex.

Perhaps the most careful study of the issue involved 12,000 young people. It found that those taking virginity pledges had sex 18 months later, on average, than those who had not taken the pledge. But even 88 percent of the pledgers had sex before marriage.

More troubling, the pledgers were much less likely to use contraception when they did have sex - only 40 percent of the males used condoms, compared with 59 percent of those who did not take the pledge.

In contrast, there's plenty of evidence that abstinence-plus programs - which encourage abstinence but also teach contraception - delay sex and increase the use of contraception. So, at a time when we're cutting school and health programs, why should we pour additional tax money into abstinence-only initiatives, which are likely to lead to more pregnancies, more abortions and more kids with AIDS? Now, that's a scandal.


E-mail: nicholas@nytimes.com
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Old 02-16-2005, 02:39 AM   #2
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It is indeed obscene that they move to gut sex education through funding ~ it's worth the money if education occurs but abstinance only programs are a total waste of funds.
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Old 02-16-2005, 06:11 AM   #3
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Truly sad. That one word 'only' will just cost us more lives.

And in the words of Verte:

Bush
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:19 AM   #4
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that is a scandal

I think the abstinence plus is the way to go, to me it's just common sense.
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:56 AM   #5
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Old 02-16-2005, 08:24 AM   #6
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Typical of the Bush admin. to promote a onesided program to go along with his onesided views.
He needs to get real!! Teens and even pre-teens are going to have sex and all abstinence education is going to do is cause lack of understanding regarding birth control and VD.
We should be progressing not regressing.
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Old 02-16-2005, 02:52 PM   #7
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the problem with bush is a problem i have with myself a lot of times too. he's an idealist, which is very strange for a conservative. he basis his policy based on ideals rather than what reality tells us. reality tells us that abstinence-plus education provides the students with the most information and has the best results; it also tells us exactly what sheltie wrote that teens will have sex and "abstinence education is going to cause a lack of understanding regarding birth control and VD."
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Old 02-16-2005, 04:02 PM   #8
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George seems a little obsessed with sex.
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:45 PM   #9
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Re: Bush's Sex Scandal

Quote:
Originally posted by blueyedpoet
Look, I'm all for abstinence education. I support the booming abstinence industry as it peddles panties and boxers decorated with stop signs (at www.abstinence.net), and "Pet Your Dog, Not Your Date" T-shirts.
cool, I have to get me some of those!
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Old 02-16-2005, 07:48 PM   #10
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but why is it that abstenance is only promoted as a bloody religious thing?! Why can't things be seperate from religion here, everything on that website above is about 'doing what is right' 'gods laws' and 'morality'. It doesn't seem to be presented as a choice, it seems to be indoctrinated within people.

I may be wrong, as I have only just discovered this issue in the last few weeks, please correct me if I am wrong.
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Old 02-17-2005, 03:04 AM   #11
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Bush's sex scandal?


The mere fact that Bush is president of the USA is scandalous!


Also MULLEN4PREZ,

where did u get that photo in your sig from, 2 of my heroes!
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Old 02-18-2005, 01:48 PM   #12
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I applaud the fact that abstinence education is finding its way into the discourse even with some liberals. I feel the flaw in promoting condom use is that, first of all, it teaches that "safe sex" prevents unwanted pregnancy and disease as if those are the only two undesirable effects of "unprotected sex", to the exclusion of the possibly devestating effects to children's psychological and emotional health.

Second of all, while not actively condoning sex, if the program doesn't explicitly forbid sex in the strongest way, children see it as a loophole that they jump through, i.e. "It's OK, we used a condom" There is an implicit condoning of teen sex.

Now you may say, "they're just going to do it anyway". I say, some will and some won't. But it doesn't mean we need to condone, promote, or provide a wink-wink, nod-nod loophole.

This is why. Guilt has become a bad word these days. I believe guilt is powerful and can be a powerful tool when used in educating children, if not abused. Now I'm going to catch flack for that statement but I need to state that guilt, as with any powerful tool, is abused very often. But when a child has done something wrong, they should feel guilty. This is the proper use of guilt. A problem is that kids aren't being taught that teenage sex is a bad thing.
We need to teach that sex between teenagers is wrong.
(If you don't agree with this statement please explain why teenage sex is a good thing)

Here's my logic: Teenagers hook up at parties. There is going to come a time when a condom is not readily available. Now you have a struggle between sexual urges and "sex education". Most of us have been there. Did we choose wisely 100% of the time?

I personally believe that guilt is more powerful than condom education and has a better chance of prevailing in that crucial moment. What would be more effective against a primal human urge: a powerful human emotion or a classroom subject?

Another obvious point is that we've all most likely had sex with and without condoms. You've got to be high to think that kids having sex don't know the difference. One feels good, the other feels better. Also most would agree that, overall, it's not the most complete and fulfilling sexual experience when there's a piece of rubber in between.

Another point, back to the argument against abstinence "they're going to do it anyway": The same argument applies to condom use "They're going to do it without a condom anyway" and they do.

And I must note that most kids know about condoms anyway. A school is not the only source of information. Sex education is such a delicate topic, I fear that schools may not be capable of handling the topic with the proper nuance.

One more point: You may have heard the phrase "Guys are the gas, Girls are the brakes". This may not be entirely accurate but is certainly more true with teenagers. The reason is obvious: Girls have a lot more to lose. Now this isn't to blame women, but the educational system and society in general seems to be wearing down the brakes.

We don't need to put kids on the sexual fast track here. The ones that are going to do it are going to do it. The problem is that the ones that weren't going to do it are now doing it.

P.S. as far as the pill, I have separate health issues with pumping your daughter full of artificial hormones as her reproductive system is developing.
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Old 02-18-2005, 02:06 PM   #13
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i have never had sex without a condom. not once.

i didn't have sex in high school, either.

presenting people with information about birth control isn't condoning sex. i find that attiude so archaic, so narrow, it's hard to know where to begin.

i also think it's guilt that prevents people from buying condoms, from making good decisions, and having a healthy understanding of sexuality that then leads to poor choices especially when under the influence of drugs and alcohol. not much guilt when you're drunk, but plenty of guilt when you're hungover the next day and quivering with fear that you might have gotten yourself pregnant last night. THAT, when you combine guilt and shame, will do even worse psychological damage to a teenager than a bad sexual experience.

it is not a school's role to explicitly forbid sex. what about parents? you sound like a George Bush "conservative" -- there are no morals the government can't instill, no religiously oriented program the government can't fund. should we federally fund drug tests as well? how about doing vaginal swabs on girls monday mornings to see if they had sex over the weekend?

please -- go take a look at sex education in western europe, especially scandinavia. they have comprehensive education, and their teen preganancy and abortion rates are drastically lower than they are in the United States (and Britain, too). also the average age at which kids lose their virginity is higher.
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Old 02-18-2005, 02:39 PM   #14
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The sex education system in west europe does go a long way in proving that educating young people about sex, helps them make informed decisions. The US is so backwards and puritian when it comes to sex and that is why we have a high teen pregnancy rate and VD rate. Causing teens and preteens to feel guility and ashamed of sex is not how we should be educating our children. Of course we all would prefer they waited but that is not going to happen. Therefore, we need to be responsible and educate our young people properly regarding sex. The 50's are over!!
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Old 02-18-2005, 02:42 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by drhark
I applaud the fact that abstinence education is finding its way into the discourse even with some liberals. I feel the flaw in promoting condom use is that, first of all, it teaches that "safe sex" prevents unwanted pregnancy and disease as if those are the only two undesirable effects of "unprotected sex", to the exclusion of the possibly devestating effects to children's psychological and emotional health.

Second of all, while not actively condoning sex, if the program doesn't explicitly forbid sex in the strongest way, children see it as a loophole that they jump through, i.e. "It's OK, we used a condom" There is an implicit condoning of teen sex.

Now you may say, "they're just going to do it anyway". I say, some will and some won't. But it doesn't mean we need to condone, promote, or provide a wink-wink, nod-nod loophole.

This is why. Guilt has become a bad word these days. I believe guilt is powerful and can be a powerful tool when used in educating children, if not abused. Now I'm going to catch flack for that statement but I need to state that guilt, as with any powerful tool, is abused very often. But when a child has done something wrong, they should feel guilty. This is the proper use of guilt. A problem is that kids aren't being taught that teenage sex is a bad thing.
We need to teach that sex between teenagers is wrong.
(If you don't agree with this statement please explain why teenage sex is a good thing)

Here's my logic: Teenagers hook up at parties. There is going to come a time when a condom is not readily available. Now you have a struggle between sexual urges and "sex education". Most of us have been there. Did we choose wisely 100% of the time?

I personally believe that guilt is more powerful than condom education and has a better chance of prevailing in that crucial moment. What would be more effective against a primal human urge: a powerful human emotion or a classroom subject?

Another obvious point is that we've all most likely had sex with and without condoms. You've got to be high to think that kids having sex don't know the difference. One feels good, the other feels better. Also most would agree that, overall, it's not the most complete and fulfilling sexual experience when there's a piece of rubber in between.

Another point, back to the argument against abstinence "they're going to do it anyway": The same argument applies to condom use "They're going to do it without a condom anyway" and they do.

And I must note that most kids know about condoms anyway. A school is not the only source of information. Sex education is such a delicate topic, I fear that schools may not be capable of handling the topic with the proper nuance.

One more point: You may have heard the phrase "Guys are the gas, Girls are the brakes". This may not be entirely accurate but is certainly more true with teenagers. The reason is obvious: Girls have a lot more to lose. Now this isn't to blame women, but the educational system and society in general seems to be wearing down the brakes.

We don't need to put kids on the sexual fast track here. The ones that are going to do it are going to do it. The problem is that the ones that weren't going to do it are now doing it.

P.S. as far as the pill, I have separate health issues with pumping your daughter full of artificial hormones as her reproductive system is developing.
Ignorance is bliss...

Don't buy a single word of it. You have to teach both. Loophole my ass. I grew up with 2 kids who were the children of youth ministers and who grew up in very religious home, their parents wrote them excuse notes to get them out of sex-ed when the rest of our peers took them in school. Their parents were very strict about abstinence only education. Believed talking about condoms was somehow promoting sex just like you.

Well the daughter my age ended up knocked up her senior year, she thought pulling out wasn't real sex. Their son 2 years younger than me, got married his freshmen year of college so that he could have sex, got his wife pregnant within the first 2 months because they weren't using any form of birth control. So at 19 he had to drop out of college to support a child and wife.

And I know many other cases.

Sounds like that's working really well.
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