Does True Love Waits Use Fear?
Critics of abstinence only programs such as True Love Waits often accuse them of being "fear based". What these critics may actually mean is that they don't want kids to be fearful of the truth that condoms will not protect them against HPV, and that they provide poor protection from several other STDs. Is telling the truth about condom effectiveness really an inappropriate use of fear?
What constitutes fear? When does caution become fear? Is a program fear based if it discloses the social and economic costs of adolescent pregnancy? Is a program fear based if it truthfully tells teens that condoms provide little or no protection and against the skin based STDs: herpes and HPV? Why is telling the truth labeled as fear based?
Or do critics of abstinence education simply use the label, fear based, to smear the abstinence movement, True Love Waits included? A case in point is the slide presentation produced by the Medical Institute (MI). Critics of abstinence Ed label the material as fear based. Yet the statistics used come directly from the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institute for Health and other peer-reviewed studies. Is educating students about peer reviewed studies an inappropriate use of fear?
We must ask critics of abstinence education if there is ever a place for legitimate fear. Fear can be interchanged with caution. Calling True Love Waits "fear based" assumes there is never a place for legitimate fear. In truth, entire generations of Americans have avoided various risky behaviors because of the fear of the consequences. Why is fear of the consequences of risky behavior a bad thing? Potential negative outcomes should be viewed with caution or fear. Yet, by labeling abstinence education as fear based critics seek to marginalize the abstinence movement.
Society uses fear or caution to discourage teens form drinking and driving as well as smoking. Images of Car wreaks and cancerous lungs are viewed by teens... None of those programs have been accused of being "fear based." Those programs show the reality of the consequences of the risky behavior portrayed. Teens should a degree of fear and respect for the consequences of drinking and driving. No one would debate that. Why then is it unhealthy for teens to have a degree of fear and respect for the consequences of teen sex. Shouldn't a thirteen year old be fearful of becoming pregnant or of becoming a negative statisitic?
What is the educational option? Should educators leave out the negative consequences of teen sex in order to avoid the label of being "fear based"? No, it is better to warn teens about real consequences that to smooth over those consequences in order to be politically correct. Abstinence education and True Love Waits are not fear based, they are reality based.