Comprehensive sex education results in less teen pregnancy.

Contraception? Why would that work? Let’s just tell horny people not to have sex.

It’s the strangest thing: in California, as comprehensive sex education becomes the norm, teen pregnancy rates have declined.

California’s teen birth rate has plummeted to the lowest level that it’s been in the past 20 years, according to new data from the state’s health department. The state’s rate now stands at 28 births for every 1,000 teenage girls — a 60 percent drop since 1991, when the rate peaked at 70.9 births for every 1,000 girls.

Public health experts directly attribute this success to state laws that require California’s public schools to offer comprehensive sex ed classes with scientifically accurate information about birth control. State officials also credited family planning programs that provide community-based resources to teens. “We do believe that our programs are behind these numbers,” Karen Ramstrom, the chief of the program standards branch at the California Department of Public Health’s maternal child and adolescent health division, told the Los Angeles Times.

This data comes from the Department of the Obvious, which is currently compiling various data that will confirm that running helps you lose weight and that wearing a seat belt is safer than not wearing a seat belt.  Thanks, DoO.  This data will be rejected by cross-wearing members of the Department of Denying the Obvious who are still insisting that a guy did actually walk on water and rise from the dead 2,000 years ago.  Leaked reports suggest the DoDO will reject the new data because writers from a particularly ignorant region of a particularly ignorant time, only slightly removed from a time when non-virgins were often killed (and citing the same book that encouraged the practice) are the wisest possible voices we have for how to manage our sex lives in the 21st century.

It’s almost like teenagers, whether they are religious or not, have sex – the choice is whether or not to prepare them for it.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • Sven2547

    Equip people to make informed decisions instead of blaming them for being human. It should be common sense, but “common sense” is a tough concept for the theocrats.

  • EmpiricalPierce

    DoDO, eh? I see what you did there.

  • smrnda

    In terms of money spent on no results, abstinence based sex education has to be one of the bigger public policy disasters.

    Something about the people who promote it is that they really, in the end, don’t care about results. I know since I’ve cornered a few in discussions – they basically believe that creating a culture of shame around sex is more important than results.

    • CottonBlimp

      I think that teen pregnancy actually IS the result they’re shooting for. Probably not for the average voters who sincerely support abstinence education, but teen pregnancy ensures a citizenry that’s desperate, uneducated, and populous – exactly what’s desired by politicians, churches, and retail giants.

      • Silent Service

        Pretty damned close to the mark, CB. The goal is more religiously motivated by the desire to punish people though. The hard core fundies believe that birth control and abortion allow people to be irresponsible. Sane people believe that not teaching teens to use these things in irresponsible. What is funny to me, and not in a haha way, is how many fundies I know that have used birth control or had an abortion.

        I honestly believe that the greatest fear fundies have is that continuing to teach about birth control will allow their children to behave just like those fundies did when they were teens, and that’s what scares the crap out of older fundy men.

        • EvolutionKills

          Doesn’t it also tie in to the whole ‘hatred and suppression’ thing? Aren’t the most religiously fundamental states the ones not only with the highest abortion and teen pregnancy rates, also have the highest rates of porn usage? And conversely they also have the stanchest anti-birth control and anti-porn stances too? Kind of like how they have the death penalty, and use it often, in Texas; while conversely having some of the highest murder and violent crime rates in the country.

  • Zinc Avenger

    Why do they think ignorance will prevent sex, when they are living proof that ignorance is no obstacle to the truly determined?

  • Itsrealfunnythat

    Some people havnt learned yet that teenagers will have sex whether or not you teach them abstinence.

    • Gehennah

      That’s what I’ve been saying since the beginning. While I do agree, abstinence is the best way to prevent pregnancy, it isn’t realistic to expect all teens to stay abstinent. So I’d rather them actually have an education on how to have sex safely if they are going to do it.

      • Itsrealfunnythat

        Exactly, but some people put their hands over their ears and refuse to hear common sense.

        • Silent Service

          It is not that they do not hear or do not understand. It is that they want other people’s children to pay a price for doing things that they did themselves as children. Their own children are little virgin angels though. At least until they sneak over to the next county to get an abortion for their daughter before anybody finds out.

          • Itsrealfunnythat

            So theyre clinging desperately to an illusion and punishing others for their denial…. : (

          • Feminerd

            Pretty much, yes.

          • Silent Service

            Yeah, something like that. Only they have no illusion; just a mad level of spite.

      • smrnda

        I agree that abstinence is the ‘best way’ to prevent pregnancy the way that not getting into a car or crossing a street is the best way to avoid a car accident, I doubt anybody would be pushing that as a feasible solution.

        Perhaps a very basic difference is that I, and most secular people, think technologies that facilitate consequence free sex are awesome, whereas religious people view them with horror and disdain.

      • enuma

        I think abstinence should be a part of any comprehensive sex ed program. The problem with abstinence is its biggest proponents take a top-down approach that isn’t just ineffective, it’s actively harmful. Instead of trying to convince teenagers that want to have sex that they shouldn’t, the focus of abstinence education should be on empowering those teens who don’t feel ready for sex to make those decisions for themselves. We shouldn’t be trying to tell teenagers what they should want but how to act responsibly and respectfully on their desires.

        To me this means emphasizing the importance of consent. We should be teaching teens to take ownership of their bodies and their choices and to respect the bodies and choices of others. It’s okay to want sex, but it’s equally okay to not want it. Sex should be something that both parties enthusiastically consent to, and consent is not irrevocable. It’s not okay to pressure or coerce a partner, it’s wrong to take advantage of someone in an incapacitated state. We should be teaching the would-be bystanders of a Steubenville situation to speak up and intervene, make sure students understand their rights, and be a source of support.

        But I suppose that approach doesn’t let the slut-shamers get their holier than thou yayas out.

        • smrnda

          I think the thing you and most sensible people believe in which is lost on the ‘abstinence only’ crowd is *choice.* You aren’t saying there is One True Way (TM) for everyone, but that you can have sex if you want to, and that you shouldn’t if you don’t but that if you do, you should be safe.

          Authoritarians are invested in control and power, so the whole “I’m not telling you what to do, I’m helping you make decisions” bothers them. If the standard of sexual ethics is consent, then sex is good or bad *depending on context* meaning that marital sex could be non-consensual and casual sex could be consensual. This makes their brains explode, I guess.

  • baal

    Stories like this one underline the power of knowing reality and then trusting people to make better decisions based on real, true, and actually factual facts (as opposed to myth and wishful thinking).