Reuters reports Teen sex increased after abstinence program. Big surprise there. Plus, all these new sexually active teens haven't been taught about birth control and STD prevention. Brilliant.
Two weeks ago, the AP reported on a study that showed that parental notice wouldn't curb teen sex. Again, big surprise.
I happen to think that sexual abstinence is a noble goal for teens. As a teen, I was celibate. Not by choice, mind you, I'm just chronically sour. I might have told myself that abstinence was my choice, and from a Kenobian point of view, it was: I made no effort to be a cool cat (resistance was futile), thereby ensuring my virginity. But looking back, it's hard to imagine that my life would have been improved if I had scored on anything other than academic tests. Anyway, noble goals are good, but as Robert Burns wrote "the best laid schemes o' mice an' men, gang aft agley,..."
Many married men would have a hard time refusing a consequence-free tryst with, say, Alyssa Milano or Brooke Burke (or both simultaneously). If many adults can't accept a celibate lifestyle (nor perhaps faithful marriages), it seems unrealistic to expect inerrant celibacy from teens.
Here's why abstinence-only programs are so daft (apart from the fact that they don't work). Dictated rules of behavior are ineffectual barriers against adolescent hormones. Our culture may be polluted with media drivel (especially from those hypocrites at Fox), but that's a red herring. Neither can one blame the public school system for being a poor chaperone. What teens need are values, not rules, and values will almost certainly come from the family.
In my opinion, what counts is that teens behave with honor and integrity, whether or not they are sexually active. Teens should take care to protect and respect themselves and their partners. This means not only knowing about birth control and STD's, but understanding human hearts.
Parents have a right to expect teens to be chaste. Parents should make their feelings on the matter known, and set appropriate rules and limits. However, parents should not do this at the expense of teaching their children about sexuality, love, honesty, commitment and the nature of good relationships. If a teen does become sexually active, he or she should at least know to make love, and not just sex.