The Truth About Condoms
Several people on the LetsTalk board have posted messages claiming that condoms are unsafe and that sex education is ineffective in preventing disease and unwanted pregnancy. They are wrong, and it's time to set the record straight.
It's important to know where people's "facts" come from so that you can verify them and judge the trustworthiness of the source. So, for information on condom reliability, let's see what the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention -- a department of the US government) really has to say.
Below are quotes from CDC brochures:
Studies have shown that condoms are 98% effective when used correctly. (J. Trussel et al. "Contraceptive Failure in the United States: An Update," Studies of Family Planning, 21(1), 1990.) (Other studies show even better effectiveness) So if you are having sex, use a condom, and learn how to use it correctly -- there are instructions on our site: http://www.positive.org/JustSayYes/safesex.html .
Now, about sex education: no scientific study has ever proved the effectiveness of abstinence based sex ed. In fact, three studies have shown that abstinence based education has no effect on whether teens have sex. (S. Christopher and M. Roosa, "An Evaluation of an Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program: Is 'Just Say No' Enough?" Family Relations, 39 (1990): 68-72; M. Roosa and S. Christopher, "Evaluation of an Abstinence-only Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program: A Replication," Family Relations, 39 (1990); 363-367; and S. R. Jorgensen, V. Potts, and B. Camp, "Project Taking Charge: Six-month Follow-up of a Pregnancy Prevention Program for Early Adolescents," Family Relations, 42 (1993): 401-06.)
On the other hand, there is convincing evidence that "comprehensive" or "reality-based" education (the kind that we advocate and distribute) is effective. Countries like England, Wales, France, and the Netherlands all have nationally mandated "reality-based" sex ed and although the rates of sexual activity are about the same (50-60%), the rates of pregnancy are two to seven times lower! (E. F. Jones et al., "Teenage pregnancy in developed countries: determinants and policy implications." FAMILY PLANNING PERSPECTIVES, 17(2), 1985, 53-63.)
So why are people on the BBS claiming that the exact opposite is true? It's hard to say; but I do know that there are a bunch of very conservative and fanatically religious people who are spreading lies about safe sex and sex education in an effort to impose their morals on everyone else with no regard for the catastrophic consequences to our "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness". Fight back with the facts.
You can get more information about these topics in your library or on the web. Here are some good places to look:
You never know when you'll get lucky.