Thursday, November 18, 2010

Teenage Sex Sleepovers: Why American Religious Morals CAUSE Abortions

There's a way we could cut abortion rates in half in the United States, but the religious right is against it! Why? Because it requires us to be honest and open about sex with our children. It means we must be pragmatic and admit that teens have sex whether we tell them to or not.

A fascinating report by Advocates for Youth proves what many of us have known intuitively for a long time: America's religion-based "morality" doesn't work. In spite of the good intentions of Nancy Reagan and her followers, the "Just Say No" policy for sex education actually increases pregnancy, abortion, venereal disease and poverty.

Check out these disturbing facts from the Advocates for Youth report:

 United StatesNetherlands
Pregnancy per 100,00072.211.8
Births per 1,000 ages 15-1942.54.8
Abortion per 100,000 ages 15-19 19.87.8
HIV/STI Rates all adults 0.6% 0.1%
Syphilis cases per 100,000 adults 2.7 1.0
Gonorrhea cases per 100,000 ages 15-19 458.8 13.92
Chlamydia cases per 100,000 ages 15-19 2,862 150.4

If the United States could match the Netherlands' abortion rates, there would be almost 125,000 fewer abortions per year!

You'd think any anti-abortionist would take a look at these numbers and say, "Gosh, let's get on board with their program! It works!" But no, they can't. Why? Because it requires society to be realistic about teens and sex. It means we have to talk openly and honestly with our kids. They have to know that they can ask us for help with their sexuality and get it – without a dose of disapproval or a moralistic lesson.

Just how open are the Dutch to their children's sexuality? Amy Schalet wrote a wonderful report (pdf) on Dutch adolescent sexuality that I encourage all Americans to read. She writes:
"[The] vast majority of American parents oppose a sleepover for high-school-aged teenagers, while Dutch teenagers who have steady boyfriends or girlfriends are typically allowed to spend the night with them in their rooms.

Today, most adolescents in the U.S., like their peers across the industrialized world, engage in intercourse. ... Initiating sex and exploring romantic relationships, often with several successive partners before settling into long- term cohabitation or marriage, are now normative parts of adolescence and young adulthood in the developed world. But in the U.S., teenage sex has been fraught with cultural ambivalences, heated political struggles, and poor health outcomes... American adolescent sexuality has been dramatized rather than normalized.
Schalet goes on to say that the Dutch attitudes are pragmatic rather than moralistic. Where Americans continue to vilify sexuality based on conservative Biblical morals, the Dutch teach their children that sexuality is to be respected and enjoyed. Where we teach guilt and make our children afraid to come to us with problems, the Dutch teach their children to be healthy, honest and open about their sex lives.

And it works. Just look at the numbers above. Teens are going to have sex no matter what we tell them. We can preach morals to them all day long, and all it does is cause venereal disease, abortions and guilt.

If the religious right wants to cut down on abortion, teen sex and venereal disease, they should take a lesson from the Dutch. Stop preaching, and learn to talk to your children. They're going to have sex, so let them do it openly, with love, respect and responsibility rather than in the back seat of a car.

31 comments:

  1. Americans are idiots in denial of reality.

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  2. "Americans are idiots"
    yes.

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  3. This couldn't be more true.

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  4. there are not that many black people in the Netherlands

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  5. You have to control for socio-economic status. It's not all American teens having babies. It's mostly poor and usually minority teens.

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  6. I agree and disagree. Yes, "religious" people should be more open to the very real fact that sex happens, whether anyone thinks it should, or not, and deal with it better than "you're evil and your genitals are going to rot off if you keep that up before marriage boy!" when it does.

    But I have to disagree with this --> "We can preach morals to them all day long, and all it does is cause venereal disease, abortions and guilt."

    In America, where we glorify stupid behavior via completely asinine and irresponsible musicians, actors, TV shows, etc., it is easier to blame our society for problems than one group of people's parenting methods.(If you'd like I could list a ton of terrible role-models and ridiculous shows that contribute to the current sad, depressing moral bankruptcy our society is experiencing)

    Kids are still going to be kids regardless of how their parents or guardians coach them about sex. My parents were very open about sex with me, but that didn't stop me from being a stupid horny little teenage boy with hormones I had no idea how to handle just yet. I wanted sex because I enjoyed it and I thought I was in love and all that jazz. I was still stupid, impatient, immature, and did I mention horny? I could be wrong but I don't think I am the only teenager that has ever felt that way or dealt with new hormones. They could have told me a million times that protection is of great importance, but that didn't matter. When in the heat of the moment, in adolescence especially, rational thought generally goes out the window more often than not.

    When I had an erection back then, the lack of a condom to make sex safer was not going to stop me and usually the young lady in the equation didn't mind either. My parents never "preached" at me about morals. Luck and coincidence had far more to do with the fact that I never contracted an STD and never got anyone pregnant.

    In summation, what the parents do or don't do or tell the kids about sex seems to play a small part, we learn from experiencing things. And at the end of the day it is up to the kid to exercise common sense and good judgment when he/she decides to have sex with someone, the kid getting "preached at" by his/her parents doesn't cause more sex, abortions, and VD. That is similar to saying "the fire being put out with water causes more fires than when a fire is put out using sand".

    I realize this is "the religion virus" blog and all things religion get scrutinized and pointed out to be further criticized, but the problem in this case is far bigger than the way religious parents decide to deal with their children and sex.

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  7. I would be very very thankful if you could differentiate between "religious" and "religious right." As a Christian, I'm totally in favor of comprehensive sex education.

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  8. Check out the CDC's site:
    http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/LongDescriptors.htm
    How many Hispanics and African-Americans does the Netherlands have? Because their birth rates (in the 15-19 age range) are 3x to 4x that of whites.
    Hispanics and African-Americans (and American-Indians) make up 30% of our population. They may make up a greater portion of our younger population, given their high birth / immigration rates.
    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html
    So, while our statistics are still probably sub-par even keeping the above in mind, there are issues which don't translate on a 1 to 1 basis. Even if we did adopt such a policy, our stats wouldn't improve nearly as much, IMO. I'm all for good sex education or a cultural shift, but since Hispanics are one of the greatest "offenders," how much is a shift in sex education going to change immigrant behavior? We should improve our sex education programs and the like, but make no mistake, even if we completely adopted the Netherland's behavior, our stats would still be worse.

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  9. I'd be interested in breaking this out by race and see how that sheds light on the subject. Statistics, probably sliced and diced, can support anyone's argument.

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  10. Hispanics are pretty much mostly catholics... Explains the high birth rate, ahhhhh religion.

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  11. Does the whole report do a double-blind study of people that talk to their children and allow sleepovers, vs those that don't? If not that or something similar, then I have to say, correlation != causation.

    I can only guess how your average Christian would respond to this, but I bet it'd be something along the lines of "actively condoning premarital sex across the entire population is even worse than 125k abortions a year, *which we don't condone either*". But I hope I'm wrong.

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  12. Anonymous said: "How many Hispanics and African-Americans does the Netherlands have?"

    The Netherlands has ZERO African-Americans, but they have a few African-Dutch.

    "Because their birth rates (in the 15-19 age range) are 3x to 4x that of whites."

    The birthrate for white, non-hispanics is still around 25 per 100K. That's still about a 5 fold higher birthrate than NL. Sorry, you can't scapegoat the blacks entirely.

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  13. I think the causation here is that the Dutch are smarter than the americans, so they don't do as many stupid things like make babies when they don't want any, allow their children to be ignorant, or believe in bullshit religious dogma.

    Being open about sex in The Netherlands probably works for them because they're not stupid. In america, it probably wouldn't work so well.

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  14. Larry-
    yes, you would be wrong.

    Trevro-
    "bullshit religious dogma."
    lack of respect breeds stupidity

    and why are so many people so quick to say Americans are stupid? i mean really, some of you make it seem that Americans are like tv stupid. Europeans can be pretty stupid too. but seriously, calling a specific group stupid is in its self stupid

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  15. Lol @Isaac

    Yeah, not showing fairytales proper respect on a comment about an article online is going to make me start breeding stupid cells in my brain.

    "Calling a specific group stupid is in *itself* stupid."

    There is a difference between name-calling and a legitimate observation. Clearly it's a bit too much for you to understand.

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  16. Nothing to do with religion, the Dutch obviously practice safe sex.

    Joe

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  17. Dude, Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" policy was about DRUGS, not sex.

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  18. Anon - Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" was initially about drugs but later expanded to sex. It's the foundation of the modern "sex education" that conservatives are trying to foist on America.

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  19. @Trevro
    one of Craig's point in his book is about how religion may in the worst case be intolerant (thats in your book, right craig. havent read it yet.) and yet here you are, an atheist who supports Craig and yet intolerant. i hate hypocrites. and that is far from a legitimate observation, that's being a jackass

    Craig, can you for once condemn these unintelligent militant comments. i mean come on, it makes people take your arguments less seriously if you just ignore it.

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  20. Isaac – I rarely censor or even criticize other people's choice of wording. People should take pride in their words, and if they don't, it reflects badly on them, not me or you. I respond to relevant arguments that are written in a respectful manner. If people choose to be insulting or use foul language rather than crafting a good argument, that's their choice.

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  21. As to the "stupid" argument, it's simply not true. I've known some very intelligent people who were also extremely smart. A man I knew well could solve the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink with no mistakes, and his IQ tested at over 150, yet he was an auto mechanic who attended the Church of Christ, one of the most conservative of the Southern Baptist Churches.

    It's one of the reasons I wrote The Religion Virus in the first place, because of this mystery. Why is religion so infectious? How can it lodge in the brains of some very smart people and make them believe things that can't possibly be true? How can it make them believe that belief itself is more powerful than reason and science? Those are the questions that I try to answer in the book.

    It's not a trivial question. Anybody who dismisses religious people as foolish or stupid doesn't know the facts and is missing a key part of the debate.

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  22. Craig- "Anybody who dismisses religious people as foolish or stupid doesn't know the facts and is missing a key part of the debate."

    thank you. that's all i wanted to here. the dismissive nature of some people just piss me off. although, i really don't like how your over all theme shows that there is no way God could exist, but whatever man, its your blog.

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  23. There is a huge difference between "shows that there is no way God could exist" and what I actually claim. I've studied chemistry, physics, biology, geology sociology and anthropology. I understand the universe well enough to be confident that there is no need for magic. The Yahweh/Allah of the Abrahamic religions is no more interesting to me than any other myth. I don't believe in Thor, Baal, Pele, or Yahweh/Allah.

    Why should we introduce magical explanations into an orderly universe? Sure, there are some questions science hasn't answered yet. But that's not surprising. Given that modern science is only a few hundred years old, and given that we've gone from nothing to an incredible understanding of so much of science in those few hundred years, it's entirely reasonable to predict that the things we don't understand yet will be solved in the next few hundred years. Why fall back to magical explanations like Yahweh/Allah? Those are just superstitions that we're rapidly leaving behind.

    I would never say there's no way God could exist. But there is overwhelming evidence that science is correct, and there has never been a single example of a miracle or magic that wasn't either fraudulent or else lost in history and thus unprovable.

    Religion has no purpose and no evidence. The Abrahamic God is no more real than any of the other 16,000 gods that other cultures have invented down through history.

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  24. i just said i don't like it. i didn't need to here the same speech for the millionth time. you just saying all of this makes you look more blunt and dismissive from my point of view.

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  25. I'm kinda surprised by how off-topic this got...

    @Isaac

    "one of Craig's point in his book is about how religion may in the worst case be intolerant (thats in your book, right craig. havent read it yet.) and yet here you are, an atheist who supports Craig and yet intolerant. i hate hypocrites. and that is far from a legitimate observation, that's being a jackass

    Craig, can you for once condemn these unintelligent militant comments. i mean come on, it makes people take your arguments less seriously if you just ignore it. "

    I am thoroughly impressed by how wrong this post is.

    15 grammar/mechanics errors

    8 assumptions (one is correct, though)

    4 uses of non sequitur

    27 errors total.

    Of the 7 statements you make, none are supported and none are correct.

    In addition, your post strongly suggests an inability to organize thoughts and arguments. You make it evident that you want to censor comments that make you uncomfortable.



    @Craig

    "As to the "stupid" argument, it's simply not true. I've known some very intelligent people who were also extremely smart. A man I knew well could solve the New York Times crossword puzzle in ink with no mistakes, and his IQ tested at over 150, yet he was an auto mechanic who attended the Church of Christ, one of the most conservative of the Southern Baptist Churches.

    [advertisements]

    Anybody who dismisses religious people as foolish or stupid doesn't know the facts and is missing a key part of the debate."

    Intelligence cannot be defined based on IQ or ability to solve crossword puzzles alone.

    There are so many other factors, in fact, that the best way to quantify one's intelligence is to examine their stance on issues like religion or politics and the reasoning behind their position. I would not make any judgment about this example's intelligence with the information you provided, but I will say that the fact that he is a theist and conservative indicate that your analysis of his intelligence is most likely incorrect.

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  26. The statistics gods would consider the conclusions in this article an abomination.

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  27. Stats are awesome... but this article doesn't really explain HOW religion causes these sexual consequences in America, besides the fact that we are assuming the religion is making adolescents feel guilty...

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  28. whoever came up with this is clearly just against religion or not thinking clearly.
    it's teens who have no morals and are atheists, products of public school education, who have sex all the time.
    a good religion that effects your heart and you really believe in it, doesn't cause you to do what the religion says not to do.
    it's wrong to go sleep around with people you're not married to.

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  29. @ person above me

    There is no relationship between being atheist and having no morals.
    On the contrary - in the most religious states the crime rates are much higher. And teen pregnancies too.
    I was raised in a mostly atheist environment and don't know any person who had a baby as a teen. The only reason I know about teen pregnancy is from the American program 'teen mom', oh yeah- most of the particpants were religious too.

    So as an atheist, did I just sleep around with everybody as a teen or commit crimes out of lack of moral? Nope - I have always been completely monogamous, do not have a criminal record - and this is because I have a very developed sense of what I find right or wrong. I do not need a religion to tell me what to do.
    Having no God makes me unable to blame someone else if I would screw up. I would blame myself only. So I don't screw up. I live my life as I think is the good way. And that includes caring deeply for other people and my environment.

    Note - I have no problem with religious people, this is not an attack. I just feel I have to defend myself AGAIN for someone who thinks atheists have no morals.

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  30. I disagree with this article. Here the auther is assuming for all religions that they will belive the same thing. As for religious groups or christians wanting to be more open with thier kids, yes that is true. On the other hand the author is trying to imply that they not only want to be open wit it but say yes it happens and here is how you going to deal with it so you do not get pregnate. That is putting words into people mouths. I do not see a servey to see how they aproach thier kids in this article about it. Lot of religious people go at it as saying yes there a lot of sex out there and it happens and no we do not agree with it until marriage. No I do not support you as the child having sex before marriage. The other issue with this article is that it implies that if thier teens do get pregnate than they want them to get an abortion. This is also not tested in the artlce. If you talk to most religious poeple they are agains abortions as well. They would rather have there kids have the baby and keep it or give it up for adoption. There always lots people out there who can not have a baby that would love to adopet a baby. There are alot of errors in this article. They took research information and twisted it to the way they wanted to relay the information without testing it the way they implied it.

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