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Is Handholding Really a Gateway to Teen Pregnancy?

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?

Read more: Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, Pregnancy, Relationships, Sex, Teens, Women's Health, , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

67 comments

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2:53AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

Tennessee is the state where the Scopes Monkey Trial was fought, and still does not teach evolution. It is no surprise the reactionaries want to legislate away sex. Just like they've legislated away drug use, and prostitution.

2:08AM PST on Jan 22, 2013

perfect ^_^

7:14AM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

so pathetic. Hand holding is a heart connection. We should foster it everywhere we can.

5:11PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

wow. when i was a kid i thought kissing was sex. Hand holding is innocent. Little kids hold hands all the time, with each other.. with their parents. Soon we won't be allowed to make eye contact either o.O Birth control people. Condoms. Pills. Morning after Pills. Education. It isn't rocket science. Teens are having sex. They have been. Since the beginning of time. Now lets solve the real issue, bc TRUST me they will have sex whether they can hold hands or not

2:13AM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

thank you for sharing

4:14AM PDT on Jul 13, 2012

Yes, hand holding is a gateway to teen pregnancy.

Just like listening to popular bands is a gateway to devil worship.

Horse manure. Next step, ban books, television, movies etc so NO one gets overly heated and accidentally holds hands (which, with the way sex ed is NOT taught now many think it DOES lead to insemination - another word you cannot use in school).

Just how stupid are people ? Well, new low, but I can imagine reading headlines later today I will find something lower.

12:28PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Walter G.'s second comment makes more sense than chastity belts.

10:14PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

I'm from TN & signed a petition against this law via Planned Parenthood. Not long after that, I received a very condescending reply from my local representative mocking the petition and questioning the legitimacy of the information it contained. I didn't vote for him the first time and I definitely won't be voting for him in the next election.

5:44PM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

When you make something taboo, it becomes more alluring. If you want teens to be responsible and wait until they are ready to have sex, stop telling them not to do it. Furthermore, it's absurd to say holding hands leads to self. I have held plenty of hands and never had sex with those people, it's a sweet gesture.

1:46AM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

Wow once again, our government feels the need to step in? Wow, our country is in such bad shape that both parents have to work to put food on the table. There is nothing but violence and sex drugs on tv which is controlled by adults, there are no places really for teens to hang out that are safe and entertaining that don't cost an arm and a leg. What else did you expect you greedy thoughtless adults, when you won't bother to control yourselves.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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