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Thursday News Round-Up: Teen condom use, MTV examines sex ed controversy, the short film The Pledgers, and news from Washington

Rachel Hart,
Reproductive Freedom Project
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August 3, 2006

An article in USA Today examines a report released Monday by Child Trends that reveals that most sexually active teens don’t regularly use condoms (only 47 percent of boys and 28 percent of girls report always using a condom when they have sex). Co-authors of the report note that “condom use declines a little with age, and more serious relationships are less likely to use condoms.” In addition the authors note that the more sexually experienced the teen is, the more likely he or she will switch to other methods of birth control.As for the gender discrepancy in the report’s results, Amber Madison the author of Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-Out Guide to Sex & Sexuality attributes it to a possible difference in the frequency of sex within relationships versus casual sex (i.e., girls may have sex more often within the confines of a relationship and therefore may be less likely to use condoms while boys may more frequently have casual sex and therefore use condoms with more regularity). The authors also note discrepancies in contraceptive use by race and ethnicity, “Hispanic girls are the least likely to use birth control. For both first-time sex and their most recent sex, 36% used contraception, compared with 57% of blacks and 72% of whites.” A spokeswoman from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy says that teens should be given the message that the best protection is to use two methods of contraception: condoms to prevent STDs and a hormonal method to prevent pregnancy.Meanwhile MTV reports on the controversy between abstinence-only-until-marriage programs and comprehensive sex education. The article provides a fairly detailed summary of what’s behind the debate with dueling positions articulated by the editor of Teenwire, a Planned Parenthood website that focuses on teen sexual health, and a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. The article also delves into some of the church-state issues that often arise from these programs, and notes that the abstinence-only-until-marriage program, Sex Respect, has a radio show on Catholic radio stations.The Star Ledger out of Texas has an article about a short film called The Pledgers, a mockumentary about virginity pledgers that features the actual pledge used by the abstinence-only-until-marriage program Sex Respect. The directors, natives of Arlington, Texas, and current students at The New School in New York City, got involved in the issue after teaching sex ed to inner-city youth. One of the directors, Rachel Knudsen, is putting together another documentary that compares the effects of virginity pledges and abstinence-only-until-marriage programs to comprehensive sexuality education within schools. You can watch The Pledgers at as part of a student short film contest.And finally, on another film-related note, it seems that The Education of Shelby Knox continues to make an impression. The Bellingham Herald out of Washington has a letter to the editor that says the film makes a powerful argument for comprehensive sex ed and argues that parents who are concerned about the physical and emotional health of their children should support such education.

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