No doubt by now you've "heard" me rant about the importance of sex education, offering condoms as an alternative to abstinence only education, and what I think of those who put their heads in the sand and say dumb-ass things like, "If we don't give kids a choice, then they will only do what we tell them to do."
A new study was conducted by the Harris Poll folks and the University of Arizona regarding what teens and tweens think of viruses. It isn't a 'gay poll' (information used specifically for or about the LGBT community); instead it's an educational one. And one that may surprise you. They asked about viruses in general and the illnesses they cause.
I am going to copy and paste the information here; its not much and I don't want to lose you in a link (although I will provide one at the end for you).
An astonishing 61 percent of youths said that there are antibiotics that can protect them from catching a virus.
"This result and others indicate that youths do not necessarily recognize the differences between viruses and other causal agents of illness (such as bacteria), and their beliefs regarding the efficacy of prevention options reflect this," said Harris in a statement Monday.
The survey of 1,373 children and teenagers between the ages 8 and 18 were surveyed online by Harris Interactive in collaboration with Southwest Institute for Research on Women at the University of Arizona between March 15 to 20, 2006.
Nine in 10 tweens and 95 percent of teens have heard of HIV. Among teens, awareness of bird flu and hepatitis C is also high and only slightly lower among tweens.
But when asked if they thought it was likely that they or one of their friends would catch these virus-caused diseases only a little under two in 10 said it is extremely or very likely that they or their friends could catch HIV/AIDS and fewer believed they would contract bird flu or Hepatitis C.
The survey also found that both tweens and teens have little understanding of what a virus is.
When asked about ways to protect themselves from catching a virus, teens and tweens emphasize the importance of good hygiene and general healthy behaviors, but do not appear to differentiate between actions focused on viruses versus bacteria.
Most youth said that washing their hands would protect them against catching a virus, and nine in 10 also mentioned staying away from people who are infected and being vaccinated.
About eight in 10 say that using antibacterial lotion on their hands would help.
It seems teens and tweens have as much sense as they have always had; which, is what can get them into all sorts of trouble. And we need to recognize this fact when, why, how, and what we educate them with. Otherwise, this'll happen. The fastest growing rate of infection is in young gay men. And among women too.