Following the Science? Not in Sex Ed

How would it look if the federal government took the same approach to reducing teenage drinking that it takes to reducing teenage pregnancies?

Instead of telling them to wait, the focus would shift to making teen alcohol consumption “less risky.” Then, strategies would be employed to make teen alcohol consumption “less risky.” School programs would teach teens how to drink, but also encourage them to use good judgment through messages like: “Wait until you know you are ready before you have your first drink.” They would be encouraged to drink alone before deciding to drink with each other. They would be told: “The only one who can decide when you are ready to drink is you.”

Knowing what we know about teenagers and their ability to assess risk and act accordingly, this sort of approach sounds ludicrous. Nevertheless, that’s precisely the approach we’ve been taking to sex ed for decades. It’s been a miserable failure, of course.



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