Sexual activity drop credits new programs
After throwing money and condoms at the problem for years, teenage sexual activity is finally on the decline.

A recent study, the "Youth Risk Behavior Survey," shows a drop in sexual activity among high school students for the first time since the Carter administration.

Sex education advocates claim their efforts are responsible for turning the tide of teenage promiscuity, but that position can olnly be supported by a distortion of the facts. This recent decrease is a credit to the growing number of new school programs that focus less on sex education and more on encouraging abstinence.

Schools have been adding sex education to the curriculum since before 1985. Once students were armed with detailed knowledge of their bodies, however, sexual activity among young people began increasing more than ever. Using cyclical logic, school administrators decided they must bring more sex information to tender eyes and ears.

Nothing was able to curb teenage promiscuity -- until now.

Something has happened, something wonderful. Teens are having less sex and safer sex (if you believe in such an animal).

The Youth Risk Behavior Survey reveals the number of high school students who have engaged in sexual activity is down 11 percent. For the first time in almost ten years, more than half of high school students are still virgins.

Something has changed.

Increased fear of sexually transmitted disease is an unlikely culprit. AIDS has been in the public eye for close to twenty years -- the same period where teenage sex was increasing. Today, the public has the impression -- mistaken as it may be -- that AIDS is either cured or at least manageable. The news is filled with a constant stream of reports of new drugs treatments or possible cures or vaccines for the deadly STD.

Sex education supporters claim their programs are finally starting to take hold. Now that students know every gory detail about sex, their curiosity is quelled, their knowledge allows them to act more responsibly and they are less interested in sex.

Driver's education does not discourage people from getting behind the wheel of a car. It only hopes to cut down on accidents. Sex education does not discourage sexual behavior, and -- well, let us say insurance rates are high for young drivers.

If sex education was truly effective, it would have provided results sooner. Unfortunately, the programs have intrinsic flaws.

Even proponents of sex education admit students need a set of morals to accompany their new knowledge of their bodies. Instructors, however, are prevented from giving those morals because they might warp young minds. If it is unacceptable for young people to get their sex knowledge on the streets, it is equally offensive to condemn them to seek their moral knowledge on the streets.

Sex education in its traditional form is incapable of reducing high school promiscuity. By giving students only part of the picture, the damage is greater than before.

But something has definitely brought about a change in high school behavior. Something untraditional is changing the habits of young people. People are finally tossing old-fashioned sex education out on its ear.

Abstinence-based sex education programs are having a dramatic impact on young people after operating only a few years.

Many school districts are teaching students the value of monogamous relationships and abstinence. Without preaching a set of morals, the new programs discuss the factual benefit of a responsible lifestyle, and the evidence shows they are making a difference.

Outside of the confines of the school, many organizations are stepping up to help train America's youth. The True Love Waits campaign, for example, is an international movement among young people. The campaign encourages teenagers to sign a pledge card committing to abstain from sex outside of marriage. The program began in 1993 and has already collected over half a million pledge cards.

Less teenagers treat sex frivolously. Among those students in the study who had engaged in sex, an increased number were in monogamous relationships, and teenage pregnancies and births both declined.

With abstinence programs becoming more common, America's youth can look forward to better things. Teenagers who act more maturely about sex will be healthier, more emotionally stable and serve as examples to the next generation.

Teenagers and Aggies need to understand the significance of sex. Everyone should keep in mind no one is hurt by waiting, but irresponsibility can wreck lives.
Dave Johnston is a senior mathematics major.