Sex. Drugs. Promiscuity. Infidelity. These words are often linked with the glamorized life styles of youth in America. Young people are desensitized to the dangers of these practices with racy movies and media images that lure them into a seductive world.

Unfortunately, sexually transmitted diseases and testing, temporary and permanent health risks, and a lifetime of emotional damage are the last thing on most high school and college students’ minds. The number of new outbreaks of STI (sexually transmitted infections) in the U.S, including the transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS are happening on the rise in people between the ages of 13-25.

Studies have shown that average age for someone in the U.S. today to lose their virginity is getting younger and younger.

“Children are starting to have sex earlier while modern medicine lengthens the average life span; as a result people have a lifetime of risk of contracting the disease,” said Kristen Conti ’08. Innocence is decaying rapidly, and no one is safe from infection.”

Something just doesn’t seem right. On the one hand, young people are pressured to be sexually active at a young age by corporate America and multi-million dollar advertising campaigns that promote and super-size the idea of sexuality and its appeal.

On the other hand, the White House, and all it stands for, continues to support the idea of abstinence-only education, even when statistics show that teenage pregnancy, and the spread of diseases such as HIV, continue to grow within youth culture.

Mixed messages lead to confusion and destruction, and authority figures are raising a generation of kids who aren’t going to be able to differentiate right from wrong, who aren’t going to know how to protect themselves properly.

“It’s like telling kids to go sky-diving, but then not giving them a parachute.” said Alex Lee ’09.

This semester, as a member of Dr. White’s class, my own eyes have been opened to the tragic ways in which our country continues to ignore the problem of sexually transmitted diseases. Our government feels that somehow the threat will subside on its own and that there is no need to tell our children how to stay safe when they chose to be sexually active.

This past Friday, my classmates and I participated in World AIDS day and decided to put our education into action by promoting safe sex and the threat of HIV on campus. We completed surveys, collected food, sold ribbons, wrote and performed an awareness play, held a teach-in, got tested for HIV, and yes, we passed out condoms on campus.

“By pretending that sex doesn’t happen and teaching abstinence only, it is not only cheating students, but also putting their lives at risk. I believe that abstinence should be stressed, however we have to be realistic and put safety first,” said Elizabeth Otter ’09.

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