Thursday, July 20, 2006

Delaying Sex After Sex-Ed Course

CNN reports:

After participating in a two-week sexual education program designed and implemented by an academic medical center, more middle-school students said they would hold off on having sex for the first time, Texas researchers report...

Before the sex education program, 84 percent of students said they would delay having sex until after high school. This figure rose to nearly 87 percent after the program.

So let me see if I have this straight. The number of middle schoolers who say they'll postpone having sex goes up from 84 to 87% after a particular program, and CNN finds that newsworthy? How many things are wrong with this picture?

First, they're middle schoolers. That puts them in the 12-14 year old range. That group doesn't have much credibility when it comes to what they say they're going to do, especially about the big things in life. I'll bet a hefty percentage also say they'll never try drugs and will always drive safely because they don't want to risk killing their friends. Stats don't bear these angels out. Does anyone think that even 84% of those kids will delay sex until after high school? Come on, raise your hands if you do.

I didn't think so.

Next, the increase is from 84 to 87 per cent. That's three percentage points, a 3.6% increase. Is that really something to shout about? And again, that isn't an increase in the number of kids who actually did postpone sex, however you'd measure that. It's only an increase in the number who say they will.

CNN wasted some server space with that report.


EllenK said...

If I ever get the money and time to go after my master's I want to do research regarding the number of pregnancies in four year high schools vs. three year high schools. I am sick of watching seniors go after dumb and easily flattered freshmen girls. You have sometimes a nearly 19 year old man and maybe a girl who is only a little past 13 and I have had parents think this is "cute". I have been known to tell these guys to back off in class. You would think with the litigious nature of the world these days, their own parents would clue them in to what constitutes statutary rape and molestation. Usually a three year age difference can cause a whole legal world of trouble.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you, Darren, that you cannot blindly believe what middle schoolers tell you about themselves and their future plans. Most of them don't have a clue about nor care about six months from now. As for Ellen's comment, it is hard to know what is best for that age group "caught in the middle" (12-14). Our district is now offering choices for parents: K-8, 6-8 or 7-8. As a parent I wouldn't choose for my elementary aged kids to go to school with the 7-8 graders. The idea of having 9th graders in middle school is somewhat unappealing. I have taught seventh grade, eighth grade and freshmen. Freshmen are a world apart from seventh graders.

Darren said...

I could go with a 6-8 school or a 7-9 school. I spent 6 years at two different 7-8 schools and I don't see that plan working. People I know who worked at 3-year middle schools said there was value in having enough of an age range for the oldest students to look after and feel protective over the youngest.

Suzi said...

I attended and have taught at middle schools (7th and 8th graders) where many of the students were having sex. One of the brightest students in our eighth grade class dropped out because she didn't want to have an abortion like the other girls. And our seventh grade health class was on how to recognize STDs.

I don't know the mix of the students in Temple, TX, but I would assume that most of the students already thought they wouldn't do anything and maybe this course reinforced that. So where did the 3.6% come from? They came from the folks who figured they WOULD have sex before high school was out. Obviously these are not the kids who are already having sex (They can't go back and not have sex.), but those who were thinking about it.

I will be more interested to see if there is a follow-up. Do they repeat the program? Do teen pregnancies go down when these kids are in high school?

Having been in the middle of this, both as a student and a teacher, I support anything that even gets the students to stop and think. (Who of us thought we were vulnerable at that age, to anything?)