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The Forum > Article Comments > Let's advocate abstinence to our teens > Comments

Let's advocate abstinence to our teens : Comments

By Brian Harradine, published 24/2/2005

Brian Harradine argues that we should educate teens to abstain from sex.

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Brian Harradine accuses me of double standards by taking different approaches to sexuality and to cigarette smoking.

I wonder if the Senator has heard of the expression "horses for courses"? There is no safe level of smoking, but sex can be, and is,
practiced safely by the majority of people.

Senator Harradine says that "our children deserve a better understanding of relationships, love and sex". I couldn't agree more, but it's the methods where our disagreements would lie. I have absolutely no problem with abstinence, but not when it is imposed, as the only choice available to young people.

And I imagine he doesn't really mean abstinence, but is really talking about delayed onset of sexual activity so that it can be a rewarding,
meaningful and pleasurable experience that is consensual and wanted by both partners.

The Senator looks admiringly to the US. The US has a much higher abortion rate and teenage pregnancy rate than Australia, and we in turn have much higher rates than northern Europe where success is attributed to widespread provision of confidential and accessible contraceptive services for adolescents. The Netherlands, for example where sexuality education begins in preschool and is integrated into all levels and subjects of schooling, boasts the lowest teen birth rate in the world - 6.9 per 1,000 women aged 15-19 - a rate almost eight times lower than that of the U. S. Likewise, the Dutch teenage abortion rate is more than three times lower than that of the U.S., and its overall AIDS case rate is more than eight times lower.

So shouldn't we be looking northwest rather than northeast?

Rob Moodie
CEO VicHealth (Posted by Franco at his request)
Posted by Franco, Thursday, 24 February 2005 12:59:53 PM
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Three new rules for Brian Harradine:

1.If you don't like abortion - don't have one.
2.If you dont like sex - don't have it.
3.If your faith's most celebrated woman never actually gets laid...
steer clear about comments on sex education!

Cheers ;)
Posted by mscobina, Thursday, 24 February 2005 1:45:49 PM
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Essentially, teens the world over need to be educated about sex.

They will find abstinence one...one...of the many choices to be offered in comprehensive sex education.

Sex is meant both for reproduction and pleasure and it is essential that, in hand with sexual education, there is a comprehensive education about the various diseases that can be associated with sex.

So, first of all, let's dump the word SAFE. There's no such animal.

Go instead for the realistic replacement...the word SAFER.

The world is presently being swept by the tsunami that is HIV which will infect 5 million men, women and children this year alone and kill a further 3 million.The prediction for next year, and the one after that, is the same.

Knowledge and ecucation are the keys to safety...and anyone talking seriously about global sex education needs to understand and grasp that HIV is making its presence felt most in the 15 - 24 year age group.

We invite readers to visit our website at www.aids.net.au

It's a superb HIV/AIDS resource..Melbourne based....but neither funded by State nor church.,

It also showcases a number of key Australian initiatives in the area of HIV/AIDS; points to the threat on our geographic doorstep and offers some avenues where you may choose to help us in our work.

Regards,
Brian Haill,
President,
The Australian AIDS Fund Inc.,
Melbourne.
Email: bhaill@bigpond.net.au
Website: http://www.aids.net.au
Posted by Sydney, Thursday, 24 February 2005 2:17:38 PM
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So Brian Harradine relies on notions such as: Teens who participate in virginity pledge programs and respond affirmatively to the messages in the program are far less likely to engage in risky behaviours and will have far better life outcomes than those who do not.

That's about as logical as saying "people who promise to stop smoking and respond positively to anti smoking propaganda are far less likely to smoke." Well yes, for a while anyway. And what about all the people who don't make a pledge?

The US abstain-from-having-sex and "purelove" campaigns are notorious for their rates of failure as measured by the spikes in unplanned teen pregnancies that accompany these campaigns wherever they emerge.

Anyone seriously interested in minimising the need for women to have abortions, and with an intelligent eye on sound public health policy, would want to look around to find which countries have both:

1. freely available abortion that women an access without duress; and
2. a comparatively low rate of abortions.

then look at see the extent and calibre of sex education available to young people in those countries. It won't be Mr Harradine's head-in-the-sand approach that keeps young women and men helpless supplicants of media pressure. It will be the kind of education that helps young women and men THINK FOR THEMSELVES.

Stop playing God, Mr Harradine.
Posted by theothersilentmajority, Thursday, 24 February 2005 2:23:55 PM
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In late 2002, Human Rights Watch published the first detailed examination of how the Bush administration's federal abstinence-only policy has played out on the ground. The report, "Ignorance Only", comprises interviews with teachers and students in the state of Texas, which at the pace of $3-5 million a year, is one of the biggest recipients of federal abstinence dollars in the US. The health data describe a total failure: in 2001, six years after Texas mandated abstinence, teen pregnancy rates were one and a half times the national average. Teen birth rates in Dallas became some of the highest in the nation. Sexually transmitted diseases climbed steadily, eventually soaring above the national average, while the state's total AIDS cases grew to fourth in the nation. With this track record, Bush came to Washington, and nearly doubled federal abstinence spending in three years.

(Esther Kaplan, "With God on Their Side: How Christian Fundamentalists Trampled Science, Policy and Democracy in George W Bush's Whitehouse", New Press 2004, p 204)
Posted by grace pettigrew, Thursday, 24 February 2005 3:33:42 PM
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Why is it that we teach students chemistry, maths and english because we think there's a very good chance they might USE that knowledge throughout their whole life. Why do we get so worked up about using the same logic when it comes to sex education. If they don't learn at school where exactly will they learn? Or perhaps Senator Harridine would prefer another generation of scared, continually pregnant young women "discovering" sex on their wedding night.

There's no reason that we can't give teenagers all the knowledge they need and still encourage them to wait. But there's no point sticking our heads in the sand and thinking if we don't tell them they won't do it.
Posted by Amanda, Thursday, 24 February 2005 3:50:16 PM
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