I searched for videos dealing with sex education for the nation’s youth. The issue is devise in the United States because the federal government uses taxpayer dollars on abstinence-only education. Supporters say this approach is the only sure way to prevent pregnancy and disease, and that it preserves family values. Detractors cite studies that show that teens who have had abstinence-only education aren’t any less likely to wait until marriage. They support education that includes information on birth control methods.
Video 1: “Comprehensive sex ed vs. abstinence only” posted April 6, 2007 by Sex, Ect., a non-profit dedicated to providing comprehensive sex education. In the video, two college-aged representatives of Sex, Ect., talk to U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angelos, about the sex education in public schools. The video concludes with the Sex, Ect., representatives using a PowerPoint-like slideshow to present information in support of comprehensive sex education. 16 comments.
Video 2: “Abstinence Video.” Posted Feb. 20, 2008. The video ends with the logo of Jordan Community Development Corporation, a not-for-profit in Texas. In the video, a teen boy and teen girl separately think over their problems in voice overs. When the couple finally meets at the end, the girl reveals she is pregnant and the boy reveals he has AIDS. The ad concludes that abstinence is the only way to prevent these results. 92 comments.
The comments do stick to the subject, and many come out in favor of comprehensive education. Several insist that abstinence is the best policy. Like the comments Hess examined, the language used in the comments section is in-line with the vernacular of online users. It is immature in its sentence construction and in its tone. But, I didn’t find people taking on a systematic approach to dismantling the message, as Hess did. In the comments to the videos, birth control methods were discussed, but not a context that brings in established science or new research. The comments in support of abstinence don’t provide anecdotal or research evidence to support that stance, either. I found, as Hess said, “serious discussion is juxtaposed with crude humor.”
While Hess found parodies of the specific public service announcements he examined, I did not. There are certainly some sarcastic videos in YouTube’s search-able database about sex education, but none I found referred back to these videos.
Neither of these videos were produced by the federal government, as Hess’s examples were. However, the Jordan CDC does have a partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. That connection, nor the question of who financed either of these productions, never entered the conversation.
Also, I could not find the five-star rating feature that Hess talked about on either of these videos. Each simply had a “like” and “dislike” selectors. The pro-abstinence video had slightly more “dislikes” than likes. The video in support of comprehensive education was “liked” by an overwhelming majority of viewers who rated the video.