October 30, 2006
Both The Star-Ledger
and the Courier Post
have editorials supporting the decision by New Jersey to refuse federal money for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. The Star-Ledger's piece
notes the important features of the federal programs -- promoting sexual abstinence and teaching teens how to handle unwanted sexual advances -- but says these lessons should also be accompanied by truthful messages about contraceptives:
The abstinence curriculum says there can be serious consequences to having unprotected sex. Yes, but that is precisely why it would be unconscionable for a publicly sponsored sex education program not to tell young people about contraceptives and ways to protect against pregnancy and disease if they do have sex -- because kids are having sex.
The editorial goes on to say that, "[h]airy-palm scare tactics won't work on this generation of young people," and that using these sorts of tactics will "convince kids that their teachers don't know what they are talking about, which is the worst thing that any sex education program could teach."
Meanwhile the Courier Post
piece, "Sex ed aid not worth curriculum changes" (which I can't seem to find a link for), boils down the debate into two questions: "Should we respond to what we know teenagers are doing" Or should we stick to teaching only what we might want them to do?" The editorial notes that there isn't one right answer for everyone, and that New Jersey doesn't "need the federal government effectively trying to dictate its own view on "proper" teaching by making hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid dependent upon it."