“We don’t take vodka to drivers education because children will drink and drive.”

July 21, 2009

Kristi Hamrick teaching American Values

Kristi Hamrick teaching her American Values

I wrote about this topic recently, but an update is in order after the Guardian published this today:

Teen pregnancy and disease rates rose sharply during Bush years, agency finds

Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush’s evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US’s major public health body.

In a report that will surprise few of Bush’s critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

And how did the radical Theocrats take the news that their totally awesome social experiment (i.e., adults will stop fucking prior to marriage if we tell them that Jesus has a special plan for them) is a colossal failure? The same way the supporters of the Iraq war did back in 2007: “ZOMG, we’re so close – Double Down!!!”

But supporters of abstinence-based education said that the new report shows that there is too little not too much emphasis on discouraging sex before marriage.

Kristi Hamrick, a spokeswoman for American Values, which describes itself as a supporter of traditional marriage and “against liberal education and cultural forces”, said the abstinence message is overwhelmed by a culture obsessed with sex.

It is ridiculous to say that a program we nominally invest in has failed when it fails to overcome the most sexualised culture in world history. Education that emphasises abstinence as the best option for teens makes up a minuscule part of overall sex education in the United States,” she said.

“In every other area of public policy – food, drugs, alcohol – we tell children what is the best choice. It seems very bizarre that the sex education establishment rejects the idea that we should talk to kids about what is best for them. We don’t take vodka to drivers education because children will drink and drive.”

That’s right, Kristi thinks that BILLIONS of taxpayer dollars wastefully poured into completely ineffective abstinence-only programs, reflects only a “nominal investment.” In Kristi’s world, when the government has spent gobs of money on policy that is an irrefutable failure, the problem isn’t the inherently flawed policy, but the fact that the gobs of money thrown at it haven’t been truckloads of money.

But the nadir of Kristi’s reasoning has to be that last paragraph. Ew, boy. There’s so much stoopid crammed into that single statement, I don’t know where to start with the mockin’ and ridiculin’. Foremost, Kristi is either an idiot or a liar when she implies that normal, non-sectarian sex education doesn’t tell kids that their best option is to not have sex prior to marriage. But on its own, that message is as effective as telling adolescent boys that “hey, you won’t get anyone knocked up if you just stick to jerking off.” Commonsensical sex education which teaches kids the truth about their bodies, about sex, and about contraceptives is not the equivalent of handing kids a loaded gun.

Speaking of guns, I think a far better simile than Kristi’s ridiculous “we don’t give kids a plastic 2 Liter bottle of Silver Wolf after teaching them not to drink and drive” would be that sex education is like a hunters safety course. When I was a twelve year old boy, I attended compulsory classes where I learned of all the ghastly ways I could potentially kill my friends and family through the misuse of firearms. My point: teaching adolescents how to handle adult activities safely and intelligently does not encourage them to do the exact opposite. Why these Theocrats believe otherwise, I’ll never understand.

In the end, Liberals will always believe it’s our responsibility as adults to teach responsible behavior to our kids as they become adults, while the abstinence-only zealots advocate giving kids a loaded gun, a bible and a head full of superstitions and praying that no one gets shot. And of course, when someone does get “shot”, it’ll be the fault of the Liberals and their “sex-obsessed, Holly-weird” culture. As if Christian culture isn’t plenty sex-obsessed and weird, but that’s a topic for another post….

PS: Thank you, Barack Obama.


2 Responses to ““We don’t take vodka to drivers education because children will drink and drive.””

  1. KSH said

    Actually, as you obviously like to vent and not research, American Values is not an “abstinence only” organization but advocates discussing abstinence as the best choice for children and teens completely unprepared to deal with the realities of relationships. Most sex eduction in America comes from the curriculum of SEICUS — the Sex Education and Information Council of the United States — founded by the founders of Planned Parenthood and advocating the world view you obviously hold … which is to tell kids that it does not matter what they do as long as a condom is in the room.

    • mryoureonfiremister said

      Thanks KSH (is that you, Kristi Hamrick?) for sharing your views, but it’s clear to me that you are the one who’s here to “vent and not research.” I take full responsibility for my love of venting (I do have a blog after all), but I also perform a lot of research on the topics I discuss here, so I take particular umbrage with that latter half of your charge.

      First, however, your snide parting shot that I believe my sex ed responsibilities are fullfilled by simply telling kids to do whatever they want so long as a condom is in the room completely stands at odds with what I actually wrote above. So either you didn’t bother to read what I took time and thought to express before airing your accusations of faulty research or you really lack reading comprehension skills.

      In other words, you’re prejudiced against my point of view on sex education and just dropped by to share that prejudice, but not before charging me with baseless “venting”. You might want to look into the theory of projection.

      Anyway, your views on “SEICUS” are mostly wrong, beginning with their name – it’s the Sexuality Information & Education Council of the United States or SIECUS. That only took a few seconds of *gasp* research to get right. Furthermore your demonizing of their background is pointless and repeated almost verbatim from the Pastor Hyles link I posted above.

      SIECUS does teach abstinence from pre-marital sex as one of the best options. In other words, they take a more nuanced view because they aren’t solely motivated by Religious Orthodoxy. On it’s website, SIECUS states:

      Our Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten- 12th Grade states that one of the four primary goals of sexuality education is to “help young people exercise responsibility regarding sexual relationships, including abstinence [and] how to resist pressures to become prematurely involved in sexual intercourse.” Abstinence, however, is just one of 39 sexual health topics included in the Guidelines. SIECUS believes that programs that teach only abstinence are at best insufficient.

      Moreover, SIECUS believes that abstinence-only-until-marriage programs, such as those eligible for federal funding, are problematic for a number of reasons. These programs not only ignore many important topics but also frequently rely on fear and shame, contain inaccurate information, and promote biases and stereotypes about gender, family structure, and sexual orientation. We believe these programs have no place in our schools.

      Furthermore, SIECUS does not dominate the national sex ed curriculum, chiefly due to the billions in federal funding offered to States under the Bush Administration, so long as those states strictly used the funds to teach Abstinence-Only sex ed. As recently as 2007, only 4 states rejected this funding; so clearly, Abstinence-Only education is a serious (albeit thankfully declining) force in the national sex ed curriculum. For a full report on the distribution of federal funding for Abstinence-Only education and the states accepting that funding through 2008, go here.

      Finally, I don’t know why you would claim that American Values does not advocate Abstinence-Only education, since that seems to be completely contradicted by their spokesperson Kristi Hamrick in the article above. Why on Earth would Kristi react so passionately about an issue that her organization doesn’t advocate?

      Furthemore, American Values was founded and continues to be chiefly operated by Gary Bauer, who has consistently advocated for Abstinence-Only as the singularly appropriate method to educate kids about sex.

      The American Values organization is an extremist Theocratic non-profit that believes that our government should operate in strict accordance with their Christian values. The idea that they’re cool with teaching kids to have responsible, safe sex prior to marriage so long as they’re prepared “to deal with the realities of relationships” seems ridiculous to me after perusing their thoroughly Christianist website.

      Again, I do appreciate your participation in this discussion, as it is one of my favorite policy issues, but please try and actually engage what I wrote rather than what you assume I wrote. I’m particularly interested in what a proponent of Abstinence-Only sex ed thinks about all the studies showing the program to be wholly ineffective and how, in light of those findings, that proponent can still support the widespread use of the program.


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