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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Why are older Americans neglecting condoms?

At the start of this school year, a five-year, $375 million grant was distributed among 28 programs geared toward lowering the pregnancy rate among teens. These programs, all of which were approved and funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and deemed effective by Mathematica Policy Research, will be offered to communities in search of additional or different education for their teens. Although costly, sexual education programs provided by organizations like The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, proved successful among adolescents and teens, while adults over 40 seem to have missed the memo.

According to a recent study funded by Trojan condom manufacturer, Church & Dwight Co., and performed by sex researchers at Indiana University, 70 to 80 percent of adolescents claimed to have used condoms during their most recent vaginal intercourse.

Another survey concluded that “”U.S. teens are not as reckless as some people might think when it comes to sex, and they are much more likely to use condoms than people over 40,”” according to a recent article in The Los Angeles Times.

One distinction between people over 40 and adolescents and teens is the amount of sexual education available and often forced upon students in middle schools and high schools. Is it simply that middle-aged adults don’t understand the consequences of unprotected sex? That theory seems unlikely, considering the awkward sex talks kids claim to have had with their parents, many of which attempt to either scare their children from the activity or at least inform them on how to exercise damage control.

So why do sexually active older adults neglect the rubber?

First, someone’s age doesn’t automatically imply his or her level of understanding when it comes to sexual health. People need to be taught, and in this case it’s better to learn of the consequences in a classroom than from personal experience.

The reality that sexual education has evolved and developed into more candid and detailed programs in grade schools means it’s possible that most middle and high school students are better informed on the topic than older adults. Only in recent generations has sex been so openly discussed, meaning that perhaps older adults are due for a sex-ed review; babies aren’t the only consequence of unprotected sex. Mind you, many of the adults over 40 who are practicing unprotected spent their youth amidst the uproar revolving around Alfred Kinsey’s controversial research.

Generalizing and placing all older adults under this umbrella of ignorance and folly isn’t the intention, but some truth lies in the statistics that condoms are lacking in the older sexually active community, a statistic that would more than likely change if the consequences of unprotected sex were made clear.

Based on the high condom use among young adults, it’s safe to conclude that sex-ed does work. Imposing views of abstinence or teaching a course filled with euphemisms and innuendoes will most likely leave students uninformed. The sexual education available to teens today is blunt, truthful and effective. The fact that sex-ed has a more open, realistic nature about it than it did a few generations back, may have something to do with the glaring differences in sexual behavior among the younger and older adults.

— Alexandra Bortnik is a creative writing junior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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