the 49.9% Factor
Why Donít the ĎReasons Why Notí Sway Us More?
By Kate OíHara (October 7, 2002)
Sex. Itís a common theme running through every teenagerís mind, whether theyíll admit it or not. Its appeal surrounds us everyday. In advertising and marketing, teens are the highest spenders of any age bracket and the ad industry knows sex sells, and that it does. Every time we look through an Abercrombie Catalog or the latest issue of Cosmo, sex is there. Itís something we canít ignore.
In 1999 it was reported that 49.9% of students in grades 9-12 were reported to have had sexual intercourse with at least one person. Sixty percent of young women who had intercourse before the age of 15 have reported they have had sex involuntarily. In 1994 the average age for beginning sexual relations was 14 years old. Freshmen year of high school I was too worried about what I was going to wear the next day, let alone comprehend having to deal with the responsibilities and risks that go along with having sex, and nonconsensual sex had never even entered my thought process. However, the truth is that sex does happen, at Mason and everywhere, whether sex be consensual or not and teen pregnancies occur, as do STDs.
You would think the AIDS epidemic would have taught us. Although the numbers of teens engaging in sexual behavior is decreasing, itís still at that 49.9%. Why do we start so young? Why do we think weíre ready? Why do some of us wait, and others of us jump on the bandwagon? There are so many factors; I donít think that any study or institution can tell us exactly why. Everyone is different, and their reasons for starting or not differ from situation to situation.
A topic that has caused so much debate in our country is whether or not to teach high school students a preventative curriculum including instruction on various methods of birth control and STD prevention or to offer an abstinence-only program. In my opinion we are lucky to have an informative family life education department. The FLE class taken by Mason students, myself included, in the second semester of 10th grade is very beneficial. I remember learning about the inter-uterine device, depro-provera as well as which type of condoms you should buy, but what stands out most vividly in my mind was an activity that our teacher, Mrs. Ballou, had us do at the beginning of the course.
She wrote two things at either end
of the black board:. "Reasons Why," and "Reasons Why Not." The class came
up with a rather large list of reasons why not and, for some reason, we
only had two things listed under "why" people have sex. They were "being
in love" and "being married." Out of the 26 of us, we couldnít think of
any better reasons. I know, and have known for sometime, that I donít fall
into either of those categories, at least not for now, and those are my
reasons for abstinence. But what about that 49.9% of my peers? What are