Half of Alabama’s high school students have had sex, half of those sexually active students didn’t use a condom. The STD rate is also very high, with Montgomery, the state capitol, ranking highest in the nation. The state’s teen birthrate (34.3 births per 1,000 people) is higher than the national average (26.5).
Oh. And they teach abstinence-only sex education there. But I’m sure that’s just a coincidence…
Al Jazeera America’s Ashley Cleek explores how Alabama continues sticking to the abstinence agenda even though the data shows the plan isn’t working:
Derrick Harris, the principal of Bullock County High School, a public school in rural eastern Alabama, said that out of his 470 students in grades eight through 12, one or two are pregnant this semester. “One is too many of me,” he said in a phone interview. But, he said, teen pregnancy is a problem he’s not quite sure how to solve. He said the school “teaches abstinence” through a program called Abstinence in Motion, which he said “works for some.”
He said he would support a course in comprehensive sex education, a seminar or “something to wake them up” but worried that there would be pushback from parents.
He’s not sure how to solve it? We have a solution that works! Unfortunately, in the battle of evidence vs. ignorance, the state has planted itself firmly in the wrong camp. And the students are the ones who are suffering because of it.
The parents are as much of a problem as the politicians. Just because they don’t want to talk about the subject with their kids doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t. As the argument goes, teaching kids about condoms doesn’t push them to have sex any more than telling them to put on seat belts makes them want to crash a car. If and when either one of those things happens, though, you’re better off with the protection.
Here’s your obligatory link to John Oliver:
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Lucious for the link)