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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Har, Har, Har!

Via Hugh Hewitt. 65 out of 490 female students at Timken High School in Canton, OH are pregnant. That's 13 percent, and everyone seems quite surprised:
The article reported that some would say that movies, TV, videogames, lazy parents and lax discipline may all be to blame.

School officials are not sure what has caused so many pregnancies, but in response to them, the school is launching a three-prong educational program to address pregnancy, prevention and parenting.
The rate of 13% pregnancies correlates extremely well with observed rates of pregnancies per year in this age grouping when condoms are used typically as a means of birth control. In other words, they've been sold on their own hype that condoms rarely fail. So you have girls just having a communion experience a la Planned Parenthood and an extremely delusive sex ed program. In this age group, approximately 90% of all women who don't use birth control will get pregnant within one year.

I know one thing. I have never known a girl to get pregnant by watching TV or playing video games. Never. So I can sagely say that this would have had something to do with having sex without using a reliable method of birth control, and condoms are not and have never been a reliable method of birth control. To get a look at the type of thing many sex ed programs teach, see Teenwire's blurb (Teenwire is linked by Planned Parenthood):
S-E-X: it's that three-letter word that can be fun to do and can feel great. But there's another three-letter word that people sometimes forget about when they want to have sex: K-I-D....

The only 100 percent effective way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections is abstinence — that means not having any type of sex play with your partner. But not everyone chooses to be abstinent. Some people choose to have outercourse. Outercourse is sex play without vaginal intercourse, such as body rubbing, mutual masturbation, and oral sex. And if sperm isn't spilled in the vagina or on the vulva, it's nearly 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Many people enjoy the advantages of outercourse. It has no medical or hormonal side effects and it can prolong sex play and enhance orgasm.

But many people find it hard to abstain from vaginal intercourse. There are two types of contraception recommended for teens to keep sperm and egg from joining: barriers and hormonal methods....

Most barrier methods have a low risk of failure to prevent pregnancy — that is, if they're used correctly. However, only the condom and female condom protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
Hahahahaha! But not in practice! Indeedy no. And especially not when two teens have been rubbing all over each other and then go for the condom. Note that there is a total absence of any suggestion that it is in practice necessary to combine the pill and condoms in order to effectively avoid pregnancy. The information which was banged into my head when I went to school is simply not taught to many teens.

Note that the above also helpfully points out that one out of four teenagers has or has had at least one STI. Guttmacher's stats are that about 1 in four teens get an STI every year. So they push outercourse (and stopping there flies in the face of nature for randy teenagers) which does present a risk of STI's, and condom use because they fear telling kids to use the pill will mean they will think they don't have to use a condom. In the process, they fail both to prevent pregnancy and STI's!

And then, of course, they blame it on TV and video games. This is a strategy designed to fail.

I was going to leave a long comment, but then decided to start over.

Unfrickenbelievable is all I have to say.

We really are living in a Salvador Dali painting.

This has little to do with birth control and what they are taught about it. The problem is much bigger.

You have to take it in the context of the environment. This is a predominately minority school with a bad reputation for gangs. My father used to recruit there when he was a college football coach. Even though they put out some great players, he didn't like wasting his time because half of them couldn't get a 720 on the SATs in order to even get them into college.

Additionally, it is the vocational tech magnet school in Canton. Meaning, you are drawing the kids who are not looking to go on for further education. If you are looking to go to college, you DO NOT go to Timken. Parents will do whatever it takes to get their kids into McKinley.

While many of these girls where probably not planning on getting pregnant, they probably didn't care all that much if they did, either.
I went to the school's website and looked at their curriculum, and it seemed pretty good. I also saw somewhere that the pregnancy rates among teens are sky high.

But I don't really accept that the average vocational program female student has no ambition and wants to get pregnant.

And I do firmly insist that video games have nothing to do with pregnancy.
"But I don't really accept that the average vocational program female student has no ambition and wants to get pregnant."

accept it. Not necessarily vocational students, but students who don't see much for their future other than working at wal-mart. There is a whole different world out there Mom. Girls are getting pregnant, not because of bad sex ed classes, but because they want to keep a boy friend, have something of their "own," because their mothers were teenagers, etc.

This is one of the things that the Hale House in Harlem (a not-for-profit I am doing pro bono for) is trying to combat. This has very, very little to do with condom failure rates.

Skeptical about the 13% failure rate, I researched it--and found you are right--but with a footnote. There are two failure modes: one of the condom itself, the other from improper use.

With that in mind, failure estimates range from 11 % (FDA), 2-15% (Consumer Reports), 2-15% (Planned Parenthood), 3-14% (Stanford Student Health), and 1.2-4% (Family Health International). Bill Potter -- believe it or not, an "independent" British "condom consultant" -- is quoted by the Times (London) saying:

“Pregnancy rates for couples who use condoms every time are only 2 to 3 per cent. Failure rates, such as breakage, are less than 1 per cent, and cases where the condom comes off during sex are about 0.5 per cent. But with typical condom-using couples, we find a pregnancy rate of around 14 per cent — simply because they so frequently don’t bother to use a condom.”

As an aside, the King County (Seattle), Washington, public health service website says:

"No method of contraception or disease prevention is effective when practiced incorrectly or inconsistently. A 1988 National Survey of Family Growth found abstinence to have a contraceptive failure rate of 26% when not practiced consistently."

James Taranto's retort, "Isn't practicing abstinence inconsistently like being a little bit pregnant?"
"Isn't practicing abstinence inconsistently like being a little bit pregnant?"

Not really. It is not like virginity. It is not like someone who has sex once can never be abstinent again. It is like any other form of birth control. It can be done inconsistently. But I guess at some point though, it would go from inconsistent to just ol' not using protection.
Er - abstinence is not having sex. I really don't see how having sex is being abstinent. But then I don't really see how not using a condom is using a condom either. Strange definitions, to be sure.

Dingo - I agree that purposeless teens do stupid things at higher rates than teenagers who have some goals in mind. What I disagree with is that purposelessness necessarily correlates with vocational education. I think it depends on the program and the individual. Most of the girls I have known who got pregnant did plan on college. Most of them went too.

Carl, I am going to have to cut through all your admirable scholarship with a few biological facts. Because the evidence is that spermicides can irritate tissues and make transmission of STD's more likely, the condom/spermicide combo is now less likely to be what the kids are using.

Combine "outercourse" and an excited teenage male, and there is a not inconsiderable chance that there is going to be some semen on the outside of that thing. The NIH survey of condoms was that they were, in practice, providing some protection against STDS like gonorrhea but the average is a whole lot less than 95%, and this is one of the reasons.

The studies that show high efficacy with consistent and correct use presume both that the condom is put on before the male gets really going and were mostly conducted using the spermicidal coated condoms.

There is another problem with teenagers who are not accustomed to their own bodies. Some women, if they are having a really good time, experience contractions of the vaginal muscles which will pull a condom right off a man's penis. Naturally this is not something you will know about until it happens.

(you guys can not imagine the conversations that women have among themselves.)
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