When I first heard that Bristol Palin—who became a mother at age eighteen—had decided she wanted to be “a living example of the consequences of teen pregnancy,” and “an advocate to prevent teen pregnancy,” I was intrigued.
When I found out that her message was that sexual abstinence is the only answer, I was annoyed. After all, I’d seen the interview in which she'd said, “Everybody should be abstinent or whatever, but it’s not realistic at all.”
It made me wonder how she could believe that a stance so clearly in opposition of her own actions would reach young people and change their lives.
When I was a teen, I would get all contrary when people suggested that I should learn from their mistakes. In fact, I’m still that way fifteen years after graduating from high school. In this case, the message I take from it is that she chose to have sex before she was married and then got pregnant, so now she feels that the only advice she can give is that no one should have sex until they're married. WHAT?!
As someone who writes contemporary YA novels, I love to see young people making smart and safe choices. I do not agree that they should be taught that the ONLY correct choice for their lives is to wait to have sex until they are married. I also do not agree that teens aren’t able to control themselves and/or will be influenced to have sex if they are educated about it. Nothing is as simple as that. Comprehensive sex education can—and does—give teens information that will help them throughout their lives to prevent contraction of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.
In a new commercial on YouTube, Bristol and Mike “The Situation” talk about sex and encourage viewers to “Pause Before You Play.” Essentially, Bristol says that she’s committed to her new stance of sexual abstinence, but at the same time, she recognizes that not everyone is going to make that choice. She supports and encourages use of contraceptives and “safe sex.”
All the corniness aside, I really do appreciate the message. But from what I've observed, the vast majority of commenters seem to consider these two anti-role models and feel that their involvement in the video is hypocritical.
What do you think of the “Pause Before You Play” campaign? Do the life choices of the spokespeople make you any more or less interested in what they have to say? What are some of the best YA novels you've read that show the choices teens make about sex?