Complementary Not Contradictory

August 22, 2013



Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

Nothing says back to school quite like some bickering over sex education. It is usually about this time of year that words and phrases like sex education, opt-out and opt-in, abstinence-only, and condom demonstrations ring out about as much as...excuse bells. The most unfortunate among us are even subjected to truly awful noun strings like sexual risk avoidance education and comprehensive sexuality education curriculum. Yikes.

Why all the angst?

Seven in 10 adults believe that teens should be provided more information about both delaying sex and contraception (careful readers will note three italicized words in the previous sentence, a new personal best). According to new survey results, fully 69% of adults 18 and older--including 82% of Hispanic and Black non-Hispanic adults and 65% of white adults--believe encouraging teens to delay sex and providing teens with information about contraception are complementary, not contradictory, strategies.

As you know, rates of teen pregnancy and childbearing have plummeted over the past two decades. Most smarty pants researchers who have noodled the question of why this has happened agree that it is a combination of less sex and more contraception that have driven the rates of too-early pregnancy and childbearing to record lows. Former Jimmy Carter budget director Bert Lance (who just recently departed this mortal coil) made famous the old phrase: Dance with the one who brung you. Given the extraordinary declines and given what we know about why the declines have happened, why would we not offer up a heaping helping of information to teens on the value of delaying sex and the importance of using contraception if you are sexually active?

One thing to note: Fully 75% of adults in the south wish that teens were getting more information about abstinence and contraception. That's three-quarters. That's also a higher percentage than any other region in the country. Thought you should know.

People, people, people. The operative sentiment is not either/or, it's both. Let's just stop. Amen.

Authored by: Bill Albert

Bill Albert is the Chief Program Officer of The National Campaign. As Chief Program Officer, Bill is responsible for overall program planning and development, and for tracking program progress. In addition, Bill provides oversight to the Campaign’s media outreach and communication strategies, as well as the writing, editing, design, and production of Campaign’s numerous publications and materials. In addition, he oversees the Campaign’s popular, award-winning websites, the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the organization’s work with new media, and the Campaign’s marketing efforts.

Before his work with The National Campaign, Bill spent 12 years working in television news, most recently as the Managing Editor at Fox Television News in Washington, DC. His responsibilities included managing the editorial content of two daily news broadcasts, assigning, editing, and writing stories for air, conducting interviews, and overseeing the work of reporters and electronic news gathering crews.

Bill received his degree in Communications at American University and resides in Kensington, Maryland with his wife, Carol. His perfect 21-year-old son, Harrison The Boy Wonder, is a senior at the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD to its friends).

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