Is Handholding Really a Gateway to Teen Pregnancy?
While you would have a difficult time finding anyone who would contend that teenagers are just not having enough sex (excepting a few teenagers who are probably left wanting) it is debatable what adults could/should do to curb some of the problems that arise from teen sex, namely teen pregnancy, venereal diseases, and sexual victimization. Many adults believe that abstinence-only education and an overhaul of what exists of the national sex education system as a means to address these issues in the most proactive manner possible. And there are legislators that are trying to, what else, legislate away the problems that arise from premature sexual activity among teens. But to be real, short of locking up your kids until they are 30, teens will continue to show interest in… (what else?) sex.
Still, Tennessee enacted a pro-abstinence sex education law that is among the strictest in the nation and, due to its puritanical nature, has been dubbed the “no holding-hands bill.” Tennessee’s teen pregnancy rate remains one of the highest in the nation (approximately 29.6 pregnancies per 1,000 Tennessee girls) and many educators, legislators and parents believe it is time to fund a more comprehensive sex education program that addresses issues abstinence, as well as issues around teen health and contraception. But this remains controversial, as you may have guessed. The actual bill enacted in Tennessee doesn’t exactly say children and teens are not permitted to hold hands, but the language is puritanical, and somewhat confusing, enough to upset those in favor of comprehensive sex education that takes a decidedly more liberal approach, rather than one that just promotes abstinence above all.
So the issue, from the adult/guardian perspective, is about abstinence education vs. a more comprehensive approach to teen sex and sexual development. Where do you stand on sex education for the teen population? Do you agree with the abstinence approach or do you feel a more lenient and comprehensive instruction, that teaches safe sex, etc is more the way to go?