Condom sales, according to a recent article in the Dallas Morning News, can hardly be said to be “ballooning.” The nearly flat sales curves for the latex-and-love industry are surprising given the free publicity they have received from such celebrities as Magic Johnson and the prophylactic pep talks given in most sex-education classrooms.
Yet the A. C. Nielson Company, which tracks condom sales, pegged the industry increase at only 1 percent in 1992 after a 4 percent decrease in 1991. Sexually active teenagers, according to a Centers for Disease Control study, have increased their condom usage only slightly—from 46 percent in 1990 to 48 percent in 1991.
If all the “rubber rhetoric” is not creating behavioral change, what will? Journalist Andrés Tapia reports that abstinence education looks like a much better bet. Get the facts from this issue’s cover story, which begins on page 24.
In researching this article, Andrés was struck by the simplicity, the air of innocence, of the abstinence educators he met. In the midst of drug-, sex- and violence-saturated high schools, they seemed brightly optimistic that telling teens they can say no to dangerous and unwanted sex will indeed change lives. Indeed, such positive talk seems to be working.
Walking away from Chicago’s Roberto Clemente High School, where Andrés interviewed young people deeply grateful for teachers who cared enough to talk to them about their sex lives, something happened that didn’t fit the stereotype of the working journalist. He was moved to tears.
DAVID NEFF, Managing Editor1
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