Parent Resources

What are 3 "Safe Sex" Myths?

THE MYTHS, &…

THE REALITY CHECK

 

MYTH #1: Teens are using more and better contraceptives. Shouldn’t I get my teen on contraceptives, or give out condoms, to protect him/her?

REALITY: Although condom use has increased among teens at first intercourse, the percentage dwindles rapidly after that. Also, in the heat of the moment, do any of us really expect teens to use condoms “correctly” and “consistently” every time? The CDC has already noted several times that if condoms are not used “consistently” and “correctly” every time, it is no more useful than not using them at all! Putting teens on “the pill” or “the shot” provides NO PROTECTION against ANY STD. Actually, these chemical body pollutants change the pH of the vaginal area, making it more susceptible to STD infestation. The long-term effect of chemical “contraceptives” begun when young female bodies are still developing is not fully understood. While condom use has increased at times among teens, sexual activity has greatly increased, because teens have been given a false sense of security.

MYTH #2: Pregnancy and birth rates for teens are declining so the “safe sex” message must be working.

REALITY: Pregnancy and birth rates are NOT declining among “sexually experienced” (ever had sex) and “sexually active” (sex in past 3 months) teens. They are actually rising sharply.

The government calculates the birthrate among adolescents by dividing the total number of births to teen mothers by ALL female teens. This is highly misleading because abstinent females do not become pregnant. Their rates of pregnancy/birth remain steady at zero/1,000.

Subtracting abstinent girls from the formula, the non-marital birthrate among “experienced” teens rose almost 30% as of 1995 (90 births/1000 as opposed to 69/1000 when all females are included). The birthrate among sexually “active” females age 15-19 is worse: the percentage of sexually active girls dropped to about 40% (1995) from almost 43% (1988), but the birthrate from 1988-1995 rose over 31% (112/1000 from 85/1000). Thus, although OVERALL the pregnancy and birth rates are dropping, these rates are increasing for girls engaging in sexual activity. The obvious reason for the national decline is less sexual activity – more girls are maintaining ABSTINENT lifestyles.

MYTH #3: Abstinence is unworkable and unrealistic. Teens are going to have sex anyway, so we need to teach them “safe sex”.

REALITY: Not so. The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveys show an almost 20% drop in the percentage of high school boys age 15-19 who have ever had sex, to a low of under 49% in 1997 from almost 61% in 1990. They are also less sexually active, with only 1 in 3 reporting intercourse in the past 3 months (21% decline, 1990-1997), and less promiscuous (34% decline in those having had 4+ partners). There has also been a decrease of almost 6% of all females age 15-19 who have had sex; but the sexually active ones have become more promiscuous – almost 20% more high school girls 15-19 have had 4+ partners in 1997 as compared to 1990.

Several factors are leading to greater overall teen abstinence: o the AIDS epidemic o generational changes in attitudes (parental disapproval of premarital sex/ contraceptives) o increased cultural acceptance of abstinence o growth of abstinence-only education programs [go to “Teaching Abstinence” on a Shoe-String Budget, and to the list of Abstinence-Only Resources]

[“The Declines in Adolescent Pregnancy, Birth and Abortion Rates in the 1990s: What Factors Are Responsible?”, The Physicians’ Consortium, 1/99; 1-877-236-5772; Myths from Life Insight, 3/99]