Sex. The word alone can make parents cringe, block certain television programs and music, and in many cases, put their children under extremely supervised lock and key. Many schools forbid teaching their students anything other than abstinence-only sex education. But why? Is it necessary? Does it even help? Many studies say that it doesn’t, but only makes the situation worse. Arthur Caplan, director of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania stated, “Not only is such an approach contradicted by everything that medicine and science know about teens and sex, but it flies directly in the face of everything all ordinary Americans know about teens and sex.”
America as a society has tried for many years to shield us from big, bad, SEX. The result…horrible failure. It seems today that you can’t turn on the radio, the television or even drive down the street without sex jumping out at you. Many of the “safe” things like the cartoons our children watch, are tainted by sexual innuendo. That isn’t the question. The question is why do we take it so seriously.
Perhaps we take it so seriously because it supposedly corrupts our youth; because this overexposure to sex could (some say) cause more cases of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), more teen pregnancies, and more rapes and other sex crimes.
It seems that maybe the sex itself isn’t the problem. Perhaps hiding, shaming, and forbidding the sex is the problem. If fact, a study done by Yale and Columbia researchers found that teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sexual activities that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
Everyone has been young, and as young people we tend to push the limits of right and wrong at times to test boundaries. Since the days of Adam and Eve, we have wanted what we can’t have. When we are told DON’T, we typically DO; it is in our nature.
Irresponsible sex is more of a problem in our society than sex itself. If we stopped trying to hide it, ban it and shield ourselves from it, and instead embraced it and put more of our focus on safe sex rather than sex itself, we would be in much better shape.
In Amsterdam, Netherlands, for example, which is a very sexually liberated place; even prostitution is legal. Sex is very much a part of their everyday life, and yet they have much lower rates of sex crimes, HIV/AIDS, and teen pregnancy than we do here in America.
According to the University of California, San Francisco’s HIV InSite research program, America has more than twice the percentage of people living with HIV/AIDS than does the Netherlands.
The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction did a study which showed that by their late teenage years, at least 75 percent of all men and women have had intercourse, and more than 67 percent of all sexually experienced teens have had two or more partners.
The OurVoice team did an informal study of the sexual habits of people age 18 to 30, and the results showed that 42 percent of respondents reported having sex frequently and very frequently; 66.4 percent reported that they spend an extreme amount of time thinking about sex; 62 percent of people reported their engagement in sexual activity such as watching pornography, masturbation, and sexting (the act of sending sexually explicit messages or photos electronically, primarily between mobile phones) was not frequent.
The OV study did not find that young people had a disproportionately large number of sexual partners reported. Sixty percent of participants reported having between 0 and 4 sexual partners.
When asked about sexual addiction, 71.7 percent of respondents reported being moderately or less than moderately addicted to sex.
Overall, if nothing more, the high volume of willing participants in the survey and their responses show that sex is a very prevalent topic in our society and trying to sweep it under the rug seems to only make it worse.
These statistics may illustrate that point: Approximately 1.2 million Americans have HIV/AIDS; the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy states that there are 750,000 teen pregnancies annually and 81 percent of the mothers are unmarried, and the rates of STDs in youth continue to increase.
This article is not an attempt to make light of those very dire, very serious issues. It is an attempt to make it known that sex is very real, and covering your eyes and ears will not shield you from it. Whether or not a person decides to have sex is between that person and their partner. However, responsibility is the most important thing.