Saturday, August 26, 2006

Canton School Board Abandons Abstinence Only Sex Education

This story is certainly not surprising:

An Ohio school board is expanding sex education following the revelation that 13 percent of one high school's female students were pregnant last year.

There were 490 female students at Timken High School in 2005, and 65 were pregnant, WEWS-TV in Cleveland reported.
We live in a very sexual society, but under the current conservative philosophy, we are not allowed to educate our children about sex. As a result, we have the worst of both worlds. All of the advertising and movies out there encourage children to have sex, but children have little knowledge of appropriate sexual behavior.

Telling children, "Just don't do it," isn't good enough, as Timken High School found out. Children need to be taught what responsible sexual behavior is. Once they understand that, it's easier to show them that having sex during childhood is always irresponsible.

That first sexual experience is always done for the wrong reasons: To find out what all the shouting is about; to prove you're a "Man" or a "Woman"; to keep your lover happy; or because you're supposed to have sex on your wedding night. So, the first sexual experience should come at a time when you have the maturity to deal with all the emotional and physical fallout from bad sex.

It's good to see that the adults running Timken High we willing to look at the data, cast ideology aside, and do what's good for their students.

Monday, August 21, 2006

A Slow Summer

This is a slow summer, and I've had little to blog about. That's not to say I haven't been busy. I've been running up my contact hours like crazy.

Normally, August is a slow month for clinicians. My take on the pattern is that people are taking vacations, and with good weather, people are out, doing enjoyable things, and lifting their moods. During the winter, in contrast, people stay inside, gradually going stir crazy. By February and March, they're calling for help.

This August, however, has been anything but slow. I wonder if it's because it's been so hot, people are staying inside, in the air conditioning, going stir crazy. I keep praying for a cancellation or no-show so I can catch up on my paperwork.

So what makes this summer slow? Mostly, it's the absence of news. The research presses have slowed down for the summer. They'll gear back up for the new academic year.

There have been only two interesting stories this month. A new research study on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) challenges a previous estimate of the risk of PTSD. A previous study estimated that 30.9% of Viet Nam veterans experienced symptoms of PTSD. The new study, which is apparently much more rigorous, concluded that the number should be 18.7%.

I've heard no complaints about the methodology in the study, and from what I've seen, it does look pretty solid. Still, dropping the risk factors from just under 1 in 3 to just under 1 in 5 is nothing to write home about. War is still a pretty scarring business.

Despite this data, veterans returning from Iraq seem to be reporting symptoms at a 1 in 3 rate. Apparently, it's because a greater percentage of soldiers are serving in combat roles, compared to the Viet Nam war. Now, support jobs going to soldiers are going instead to civilian contractors. And, by the way, we don't have data on the contractor's risk of PTSD.

I really wish we would never again have to do research on the risks of PTSD in combat.

Another story, which just popped up today in the New York Times concerns pedophilia. Using conversations from chat rooms, the Times was able to draw a very convincing portrait of the rationalizations and defenses pedophiles use to explain away their own behavior.

Psychological defenses are amazing things. Drunks create chaos in the family, and everybody looks the other way, insisting their family is perfectly normal. The old substance abuse counseling line that "Denial is not just a river in Egypt," is equally applicable to pedophiles themselves.