Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pushers of bad ideas target Australian teens

US chastity evangelist targets Australian kids

A CONTROVERSIAL teenage chastity campaign based in the US is on its way to Australia.

The Silver Ring Thing project uses rock music and videos at its events to encourage boys and girls as young as 12 to pledge publicly to stay virgins until they are married. They then buy an inscribed ring for about $20 that they are told to wear all the time, as well as being given a "chastity Bible".

It is the fastest-growing abstinence campaign in the US and is led by Denny Pattyn, an evangelical youth pastor who, during rallies, admits to a wild past of promiscuity and drinking before finding God. But the campaign has attracted criticism for making misleading statements about safe sex and contraception and for frightening youngsters into pledging.

In theory abstinence sounds like a good idea, but in reality, focusing on that instead of sex education have very bad effects.

Evidence suggests abstinence campaigns might delay the age at which youngsters first have sex, but most who sign up break their pledge and might indulge in more risky sexual behaviour.

One 10-year study documenting that, can be found here (.pdf), a review of others relating to HIV-AIDS and pregnancy and abstinence can be found here.

Not only is it ineffective, abstinence only programs often contain misleading information about sex and preventions (.pdf). Also, abstinence buys into the whole idea that there is something wrong with having sex - something that's quite natural. People should never feel pressured into sex, but it's not a good thing to case sex as something that should be avoided.

All in all, not only is it ineffective, and potentially dangerous, it also leads to a (in my opinion) unwholesome view on sex and sexuality. Hopefully the teens drawn to this program, will still receive good sex-ed, ensuring that they don't participate in risky behaviour if they decide not to abstain any longer.

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Blogger DL said...

Well, perhaps all this religious anti-sex movement is not so different from "ultra-ecological" associations like the 'Voluntary Human Extinction Movement' (VHEM) or the "non-sexualists" from 'Asexual Visibility and Education Network' (ASEN).

September 16, 2007 6:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with most of your points, but I don't agree with the notion that promoting abstinence implies sex is sinful. I am personally saving myself for marriage. Not because I think sex is bad, but because sex is sacred and should be saved for someone who really means something to you. As a ritual that can create human life, I don't think sex is something that should be taken so lightly.

Of course, people are free to disagree with me. But as long as this program stays voluntary (as in, no excessive pressure from school, church, and parents) and clears up any misconceptions about contraception, I don't think it's such a bad thing.

September 17, 2007 1:45 AM  

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