Sex Education Fail: Contraception Misconceptions

By Casey Lynn
Contributing Writer, [GAS]

Just when you thought it was disturbing enough that 75% of high school students in Oklahoma can’t name the first U.S. president (and less than half can name the two U.S. political parties), it seems like there is always some new study lurking around the corner to show the widespread problem of obliviousness and/or stupidity.

The study in question was conducted in the U.K., and concerns myths about contraception. Approximately 20% of women had heard of common kitchen items being used for as forms of contraception, whether as alternative barriers, or perhaps even more befuddling, as forms of oral birth control. Here are some of these alternatives that were cited:

  • bread
  • cling film (i.e., saran wrap)
  • chicken skin
  • kebabs
  • crisps (i.e., potato chips)
  • soda

So apparently there is someone somewhere who has constructed a condom out of chicken skin. The BBC article citing this study pointed out that there are of course ancient methods of contraception – stewed beaver’s testicles was a particularly interesting example – but noted that this study was conducted in “modern” Britain. Not knowing the details of the study, I can’t say for sure, but I’m assuming that the results do not stem from any sort of cultural practices.

On the contrary, it seems to be misinformation. One in ten women surveyed thought that it takes years for a woman to regain fertility after going off of birth control – or even more dangerous, that oral contraceptives can protect against HIV.

I imagine that there are similar studies with perhaps similar results about the United States, where there is still a war waging over “abstinence education.” But issues of “promoting sexual activity” aside, at some point we’re just talking about basic science. I’m pretty sure that if you think that eating potato chips can keep someone from getting pregnant, then there has been some basic knowledge/education deficiency on par with not knowing the first president of your country.

[Image Source: anqa (CC)]

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22 Responses to Sex Education Fail: Contraception Misconceptions

  1. "…then there has been some basic knowledge/education deficiency on par with not knowing the first president of your country."

    Translation: "Britain, stop taking the piss out of America when you're just as idiotic".

    Except, to be honest, it's not as bad as that, on the students' part, anyway.

    Sex education is shockingly bad. At least America has 'absintance education', which while I don't agree with, is some sort of 'education' that basically says how to potentially stop having babies. Not the best kind of education, but at least they try to hammer it into you.

    In Britain, it generally stops (after just a couple of lessons) on the biological 'How babies are made' end (and an extremely simplified version, at that), with a minority of schools offering the smallest add-on of about a quarter of a single hour-long lesson where the teacher puts one condom on something roughly the size of a penis while listing off some (but not all) other types of contraception.

    Teachers either (in this hyper politically correct country) are banned from (or at least heavily dissuaded from) dispelling playground rumours, in case it dents the kids' ideas worth.

    Okay, I might be exaggerating a little through this comment, but only to show the point: It isn't the kid's fault. It is simply something they were never taught in the first place. Casey, I'm sure you don't know stuff you don't know – it's as simple as that.

    Whereas in the American study of presidents, it's pure ignorance and laziness on the kids' part, as I'm sure it's not exactly something that's skimmed over.

    • PS: I didn't mean to rip on America in my comment. I was more calling Casey out for ripping on Britain.

      I don't see how 20% of kids that don't know about contraception are even that dumb, considering most are never taught it in the first place. What this ACTUALLY means is that roughly 40-50% of kids actually were taught it from other sources, such as their parents or even reading up on it themselves. Which is, by my experience, not ignorant, stupid or lazy. In fact, it shows British kids can go out and enjoy learning for learnings' sake.

      However, to say that this is as stupid as 75% of American kids that have been taught about the presidents are then too lazy to revise and forget it and are too ignorant to re-learn it once they have forgotten beggers belief. This is the definition of stupid, lazy and ignorant.

      I'm sure there are countless studies that COULD show how idiotic Britain is, compared to America (British kids are just as ignorant on American georgraphy as Americans are with the rest of the world, for starters). This, however, is not one, and actually shows that British kids have one up on enjoying learning than American kids.

      That is all.

      • Ack, actually that wasn't what I meant at all. :) It was just a coincidence that the studies happened to be from two different countries. I would venture to say that there are similar studies about sex education in America with similar (or worse) results. And I agree that the U.S. president one is definitely worse. When I saw this new one, that one simply came to mind because it was recent as well.

        • Fair enough. And re-reading the article in that light, I can kinda see your point. I just don't think comparing the two is good at all, considering they are two totally differing reasons for not knowing something.

          As I said, kids just sometimes aren't taught enough and that's not their fault (and in this case, actually know a hell of a lot more than what schools actually teach), whereas not knowing stuff you have been taught is.

          The sex education thing in Britain is a joke and explains our high teenage pregnancy rates. I just hate people blaming the kids themselves for this, when actually, most actually end up as pretty good parents anyway. It is all education's fault in this case, not the people taking the surveys.

  2. “…then there has been some basic knowledge/education deficiency on par with not knowing the first president of your country.”

    Translation: “Britain, stop taking the piss out of America when you’re just as idiotic”.

    Except, to be honest, it’s not as bad as that, on the students’ part, anyway.

    Sex education is shockingly bad. At least America has ‘absintance education’, which while I don’t agree with, is some sort of ‘education’ that basically says how to potentially stop having babies. Not the best kind of education, but at least they try to hammer it into you.

    In Britain, it generally stops (after just a couple of lessons) on the biological ‘How babies are made’ end (and an extremely simplified version, at that), with a minority of schools offering the smallest add-on of about a quarter of a single hour-long lesson where the teacher puts one condom on something roughly the size of a penis while listing off some (but not all) other types of contraception.

    Teachers either (in this hyper politically correct country) are banned from (or at least heavily dissuaded from) dispelling playground rumours, in case it dents the kids’ ideas worth.

    Okay, I might be exaggerating a little through this comment, but only to show the point: It isn’t the kid’s fault. It is simply something they were never taught in the first place. Casey, I’m sure you don’t know stuff you don’t know – it’s as simple as that.

    Whereas in the American study of presidents, it’s pure ignorance and laziness on the kids’ part, as I’m sure it’s not exactly something that’s skimmed over.

    • PS: I didn’t mean to rip on America in my comment. I was more calling Casey out for ripping on Britain.

      I don’t see how 20% of kids that don’t know about contraception are even that dumb, considering most are never taught it in the first place. What this ACTUALLY means is that roughly 40-50% of kids actually were taught it from other sources, such as their parents or even reading up on it themselves. Which is, by my experience, not ignorant, stupid or lazy. In fact, it shows British kids can go out and enjoy learning for learnings’ sake.

      However, to say that this is as stupid as 75% of American kids that have been taught about the presidents are then too lazy to revise and forget it and are too ignorant to re-learn it once they have forgotten beggers belief. This is the definition of stupid, lazy and ignorant.

      I’m sure there are countless studies that COULD show how idiotic Britain is, compared to America (British kids are just as ignorant on American georgraphy as Americans are with the rest of the world, for starters). This, however, is not one, and actually shows that British kids have one up on enjoying learning than American kids.

      That is all.

      • Ack, actually that wasn’t what I meant at all. :) It was just a coincidence that the studies happened to be from two different countries. I would venture to say that there are similar studies about sex education in America with similar (or worse) results. And I agree that the U.S. president one is definitely worse. When I saw this new one, that one simply came to mind because it was recent as well.

        • Fair enough. And re-reading the article in that light, I can kinda see your point. I just don’t think comparing the two is good at all, considering they are two totally differing reasons for not knowing something.

          As I said, kids just sometimes aren’t taught enough and that’s not their fault (and in this case, actually know a hell of a lot more than what schools actually teach), whereas not knowing stuff you have been taught is.

          The sex education thing in Britain is a joke and explains our high teenage pregnancy rates. I just hate people blaming the kids themselves for this, when actually, most actually end up as pretty good parents anyway. It is all education’s fault in this case, not the people taking the surveys.

  3. First of all, "ignorance" means a lack of learning, not an inability to learn. It often proves difficult for people to separate their feelings about ignorance from those about stupidity, but they are two distinct conditions. In my opinion, neither are particularly desirable, but they have VERY different implications.

    Secondly, I'm not sure sex-ed might actually be better than abstinence-only sex-ed. Ideologically-driven education fosters ignorance as much as no education at all, but it's created by WILLFUL ignorance, which is a different beast altogether; far more problematic than ignorance or stupidity.

    • what ideology would be driving scientifically sound education, that would make it 'no better' than the willful exclusion of sound science in order to further a wingnut agenda?

  4. First of all, “ignorance” means a lack of learning, not an inability to learn. It often proves difficult for people to separate their feelings about ignorance from those about stupidity, but they are two distinct conditions. In my opinion, neither are particularly desirable, but they have VERY different implications.

    Secondly, I’m not sure sex-ed might actually be better than abstinence-only sex-ed. Ideologically-driven education fosters ignorance as much as no education at all, but it’s created by WILLFUL ignorance, which is a different beast altogether; far more problematic than ignorance or stupidity.

  5. This news story appears to be focused on one question in the survey, the one that could be sensationalized the easiest. Even I have "heard" of people using these weird things for contraception -because I read a lot. Online. That doesn't mean I ever believed they were effective, or even that I know someone who tried them.

  6. This news story appears to be focused on one question in the survey, the one that could be sensationalized the easiest. Even I have “heard” of people using these weird things for contraception -because I read a lot. Online. That doesn’t mean I ever believed they were effective, or even that I know someone who tried them.

  7. I'm English and I dare say that the study took place in some of the less well off areas of the country. In my school (Saint Olaves Grammar School [School of the year 2008-2009]) we are given a course of Sex-Ed that is in total about 6-7 hours each year.

    Only idiots would think that the sort of things outlined in the article would be effective…

    I do however slightly disagree with the authors point that crisps will stop you getting pregnant… They will make you fatter and less likely to get laid in the first place.

  8. I’m English and I dare say that the study took place in some of the less well off areas of the country. In my school (Saint Olaves Grammar School [School of the year 2008-2009]) we are given a course of Sex-Ed that is in total about 6-7 hours each year.

    Only idiots would think that the sort of things outlined in the article would be effective…

    I do however slightly disagree with the authors point that crisps will stop you getting pregnant… They will make you fatter and less likely to get laid in the first place.

  9. i would assume it's much worse for kids in high school in the US. they are purposely given false/misleading info in abstinence 'education.'

  10. i would assume it’s much worse for kids in high school in the US. they are purposely given false/misleading info in abstinence ‘education.’

  11. what ideology would be driving scientifically sound education, that would make it ‘no better’ than the willful exclusion of sound science in order to further a wingnut agenda?

  12. Cling film CAN be used as a barrier method- for oral sex performed on a female. It isn't idea- a dental dam or an unlubricated condom cut along the radius are preferred… but better than nothing.

  13. Cling film CAN be used as a barrier method- for oral sex performed on a female. It isn’t idea- a dental dam or an unlubricated condom cut along the radius are preferred… but better than nothing.

  14. what the hell? not suprised about the contraception thing. but i do wonder where it was carried out. greater london perhaps? i know kids that have lost their virginity at 12. its always the thick ones that lose it young. but even i know the first U.S. president and the two parties. try british politics, now THATS confusing!

  15. what the hell? not suprised about the contraception thing. but i do wonder where it was carried out. greater london perhaps? i know kids that have lost their virginity at 12. its always the thick ones that lose it young. but even i know the first U.S. president and the two parties. try british politics, now THATS confusing!