[OTPTF] Sunday Oregonian Editorial on Abstinence Education
Rose I WILDE
rose.i.wilde at state.or.us
Wed Oct 14 10:37:56 PDT 2009
I reviewed the article and the comments.
I think it is key that the article confuses the terms abstinence-based programs (which encourage abstinence but do not prohibit comprehensive sex education) and abstinence-only programs (which only allow teaching about abstinence). The author conflates the two, which is inaccurate according to the OARs and ORSs relating to sex education in Oregon.
In fact, our state law specifically mentions that comprehensive sexuality education is "abstinence based", in that schools will validate delaying sexual initiation as a positive health choice, teach students to explore their values with parents (and others), and use skill building curricula to help students act upon their decisions. The legislation also requires that we teach skills and information to help students prepare to be sexually active, since I would guess that 99% of humans are sexually active at some point in their lives.
There are also some apparent inaccuracies about Planned Parenthood. They support comprehensive sex ed and teach abstinence messages and skills as part of their curricula.
I think it is revealing of how Oregonians think -- although not representative of the population, the comments do show the range of opinions, and clearly even in an urban, progressive city, many many people are still very uninformed about sex ed in general and uncomfortable with teaching about sexuality in spite of the evidence that it does no harm.
Another perspective on this argument is how sexuality education can help young children understand sexual abuse. I have been doing research with trauma survivors in Eugene/Springfield and one message recurs among the survivors of sexual abuse: (paraphrasing) "In those days we never learned about sex at all, let alone about sexual abuse." OR "We learned about sexual abuse, but only as it relates to girls." OR "I knew what was happening was bad, but all the adults in my life were too scared to listen to me ask for help or didn't recognize my behavior and figure out what was happening". Key point is that sexuality affects children whether they choose early sexual involvement or not. I would suspect the VAST MAJORITY of sexually experienced younger teens are sexual abuse or assault survivors.
Bums me out, though. Can we respond officially? It would be swell to have the statewide task force make a strong statement about our values and the definitions, even if we don't comment on the national political scene.
Rose I. Wilde, MPH
Community Resource Coordinator
Department of Human Services, District 5
2885 Chad Drive
Eugene, OR 97408
(541) 687-7373 x 401
rose.i.wilde at state.or.us
Core Values: Integrity, Professionalism, Respect, Responsibility, Stewardship
>>> "Jessica DUKE" <jessica.duke at state.or.us> 10/13/2009 8:06 AM >>>
Hello OTPTF Members -
Interesting commentary on abstinence education. The online comments are worth the read - especially the replies from the other.
Jessica E.A. Duke, MPH
Please Note NEW
Suite and Fax Numbers
Program Coordinator, Adolescent Sexual Health
Oregon Public Health Division, Office of Family Health
800 NE Oregon St Suite 805
Portland, OR 97232
phone (971) 673-0242
fax (971) 673-0250
jessica.duke at state.or.us
Download the Oregon Youth Sexual Health Plan
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