In spite of everything you've heard, Canadian teens are becoming more responsible.

The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality has just published a study showing that the number of pregnancies among Canadian teenagers dropped by 36.9% from 1996 to 2005! Who would've guessed? It seems all we hear about in relation to teen sexuality is how over-sexualized they are and how they are getting involved in sex earlier and earlier every day. If that were true, one would expect that the numbers of teen pregnancies would be increasing right along with all that horrible, early risk-taking behavior. But they aren't. In fact, teen pregnancy rates are down significantly in the last ten years in most developed countries, including the USA (their drop was 25%). Alexander McKay, co-author of the study and research co-ordinator of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of Canada says that the number of teenagers having sex has remained essentially stable, over this time period, with somewhere around 50% of those 17 or under having been sexually active. McKay says “Teenage women in Canada are not more or less likely to be sexually active than they were 10 or 15 years ago. The difference is that we have seen a steady increase in the percentage of sexually active young women who are using contraception. That comes mainly in increases in condom use but also increases in birth control.” (quote taken from Globe and Mail, May 26th). So in spite of all the public bemoaning about 'those girls growing up too fast', it appears that all the evidence tells us that:
1 - the numbers of teenagers having sex has stayed pretty much the same since 1996
2 - the ones who do have sex are making good choices about contraception
3 - far fewer of them are getting pregnant

But there are still some, that in spite of all of these good news fact, hold steadfastly to their belief that Canada's sexual morality is going to hell in a handbasket. Point in case, Barbara Kay, of the National Post, who is quickly becoming one of my least favorite wingnuts, published an editorial on Thursday entitled 'Teen Pregnancy Study Fall Prey to Wishful Thinking'. In it, she asserts that the decline in teen pregnancy rates is mainly due to a decline in birth rates in Canada on the whole. How this follows, I simply cannot understand. She also asserts that the general decline in birth rate is due to a huge increase in the number of abortions, with 47% of the decline in births being attributable to abortions. Huh? How she is getting this stat is not at all clear to me. How in the world can you determine that 47% of the decline in births was due to abortion? But I had a look at some statistics directly from statistics Canada to see what I could find. First of all, the number of live births in Canada did take a dip in the 90's but has been steadily climbing again since 2001. So the decline in birth rates is nowhere near as dramatic as she claims. Secondly, the number of abortions has been steadily decreasing. Since a highpoint in 1997, with almost 112,000 abortions, it has dropped by a little over 12% with less than 97,000 abortions in 2005 (I personally wonder is this is due, in part, to the decreasing access to abortion services in Canada). So really, Barb, what are you on about? The stats show very clearly that although our birth rate has declined, it was actually on a slight increase throughout the period of this study. And it shows that fewer people are getting abortions (the teen rate for abortions reflects a similar trend and has been dropping steadily since 1996).

However, good old Barb states that "The bottom line is that fewer young people are having early sex, slightly more of those who have sex are using contraception, and a critical mass of those who are having sex, in spite of a tsunami of education, prefer not to use contraception, but have no problem with abortion as retroactive contraception. It seems to me on the evidence that western sex ed programs must be something like dietary information programs to combat obesity that present a list of healthy foods on one side of a blackboard, and a list of practices like anorexia and bulimia on the other side, making no moral distinction between them." Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

Again, why focus on one, clearly biased editorial? Because it reflects the views of too many people in Canada who still cling to their ideas and opinions in spite of the overwhelming evidence that sex education in Canada is working and that our teenagers are making better choices about sex. The proof is in the comments on Barb's article. Here are just a few:

"First, SIECCAN has an agenda to push. If wonder [sic] what it is, check the report their sister-organization in the US (SIECUS) prepared for the UNESCO last year: It advocates "sexual education" at the earliest possible age including teaching kids aged 5-to-8 about masturbation, "gender stereotypes," and the rest of the closet pedophile agenda." - yes, those SIECCAN researchers are really just closet pedophiles out to lure children into their trap!

"In any study one has to look beyond the author's conclusions to find the real reasons for same. Today 90% of abortions are either a method of birth control or sex selection....Our first step as a nation is to defund abortion from the healthcare system for anything other than medical necessity including rape/incest. Let those on welfare or unable to afford it go through a course on responsible sexual relationships before any state funding is provided. Make it clear the funding is only provided once." - so really, this whole study just shows us that we need to stop funding abortions - how did this get to be an abortion debate? And only those on welfare should get not only abortions, but also sex education. Talk about an agenda!

It's people like this, who have not taken the time to understand the issues and clearly don't care to, who influence the actions our government takes regarding these matters.

So even though all evidence points to the fact that sex education is working, that not only teen pregnancies but also teen abortions are on the decline, our federal government still makes the outrageous decision to underhandedly completely obliterate funding for the Canadian Federation of Sexual Health (formerly Planned Parenthood) and to try to put legal abortion back up for discussion.

We need to take a giant step into the world of reality and start listening to the people who are actually in the know about these things, like Alexander McKay and SIECCAN. Because opinions and fact are not one and the same. You know what they say.......opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one.....

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