The sex industry is a multi-billion dollar operation, if one includes pornography, much of cable TV (is that redundant?), pregnancy prevention devices (mislabeled ‘‘birth control'') and virtually all contemporary magazines.
It should then come as no surprise that the sex industry has a vested interest in recruiting new ‘‘customers.'' Just as the tobacco companies must hook kids on cigarettes to survive, so must the sex industry need to hook teens on sex.
That's why we should regard with skepticism a recent review sponsored by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which found that sex education and other programs that tell teens how to avoid pregnancy and AIDS do not encourage them to experiment and in some cases discourage sexual activity. The review looked at 250 studies.
The review included no dissenting voices, according to the Abstinence Clearing House, a national organization that promotes abstinence until marriage. Apparently, it's assumed that teens will have sex, so the focus of programs examined in the 250 studies is limited to preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Some of the programs are expensive. The New York Times reports that one costs $4,000 per student per year (greater than the per-child expense in some school districts) but ‘‘did not reduce sexual risk-taking among boys.'' In fact, says Times writer Tamar Lewin, ‘‘the boys in the program actually were more likely to become fathers.''