The ninth-grade sex education instructor, says the New York City Board of Ed's HIV/AIDS Curriculum Guide, is to shuffle 13 index cards, pass them out, and instruct the children to arrange themselves in the proper order, like so: "Buy a latex condom," "Buy a contraceptive foam or lubricant . . . ," "Check to make sure condom package is not torn . . . ," "Check condom expiration date," "Remove condom from package," "Check to see which way the condom unrolls," "Squeeze the tip of the condom to press out air," "Place the condom on the erect penis," "Unroll the condom onto the penis . . . ," "Apply the foam/lubricant," "After ejaculation, hold onto the base of the condom," "Carefully withdraw penis," "Wrap the condom in a tissue or piece of paper and discard." Teachers often call this game "Condom Line-Up."
When the teacher demonstrates how to use a condom, according to the Board of Ed guidelines, she is to stretch it out, explain that "one size fits all," and then unroll it on two of her outstretched fingers. It is certainly a curious exercise, since sexual intercourse with anyone under 17 constitutes a crime in the state, and those who are enjoined to "buy a condom" are 14. However, more fascinating still is the black warning box suspended in mid-page: "Teacher Note," it reads: "Make sure that learning-disabled and all students understand that a condom goes on the erect penis, and not on the fingers as demonstrated."
The imagination is certainly compelled. Is this a common problem? The boy and girl, both 14, are obediently conjoining, when suddenly the girl recalls what they learned in class that day. "Wait, stop! We aren't practicing safe sex!" The boy fumbles for his crumpled-up jeans beside him and manages to pull out a condom—free, thanks to former chancellor Joseph A. Fernandez. He unrolls it, just as they showed in class. "Is it on your finger?" asks the girl anxiously. "Yeah, don't worry," he reassures her. "Whew," she says, "that was close!"
In the world of the sex educators, you can start talking about AIDS in kindergarten (as the New York mandate directs), and by the tenth year of sex ed, students still will not know how to do it right and do it safely. We are told that kids will "do it anyway" by the very people who assure us in the next breath that kids don't know what they're doing. This stubborn ignorance on the part of our sex education pupils serves an important social purpose. Just think: if kids could do it like their parents did it, without the help of all these educators and coordinators, then a fair number of people would be out of a job.
In New York, five comprehensive health coordinators, one per borough, work for the Board of Education. One of them, Delores Cozier, explained to me that they are the "trainers of trainers." They teach teachers, who in turn teach the teachers who will actually implement the sex education guidelines in their classrooms. The guidelines require teachers to add a sprinkling of sex ed to ordinary lessons. "So if you're teaching Romeo and Juliet in literature class," Cozier explains, "the teacher could stop and ask, 'Do you think they practiced safe sex?' "
New York requires every child to take five 45-minute sessions of HIV instruction in grades K-6 and six in grades 7-12. Parents can pull their children out of the "methods of prevention" class (i.e., condoms) but not the rest. Under the kindergarten guidelines, "students will learn: the difference between transmissible and non-transmissible diseases; the terms HIV and AIDS; [and] that AIDS is hard to get." Next, the kindergartners learn how people do get it. In first grade, they'll learn about new HIV treatments. The guidelines instruct teachers to "hold up [a] picture of Superman or Superwoman" and then tell pupils that, just as Kryptonite weakens Superman, so the HIV virus weakens the body's immune system, but that "new treatments for HIV/AIDS act like Superman's/Superwoman's lead shield." They protect the immune system from the AIDS virus.
However dramatic, this analogy isn't accurate, of course, as the many deaths from AIDS each year will testify. But according to the Curriculum Guide, the point isn't really accuracy but rather the fostering of certain desirable attitudes: "Children need to know that although sexual intercourse can present risks, sexuality is a natural and healthy part of life. HIV/AIDS instruction should not create unnecessary fears about sexuality and sexual intimacy." So AIDS instruction for first-graders includes telling them that, because of the new treatments, they shouldn't worry about acting any differently because of the disease.
Sex ed has become nearly ubiquitous and almost always conveys the same reductive story: sex is all about physical pleasure—and preventing the unwanted effects of pursuing it. Today 37 states and the District of Columbia require schools to provide STD/HIV/AIDS education, and 23 states require comprehensive sex education. The basis for many of the current comprehensive programs nationwide is a publication issued by SIECUS, the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Kindergarten-12th Grade.
The guidelines advise that by the time children reach the age of five they be told that "it feels good to touch parts of the body" and that "some men and women are homosexual, which means that they will be attracted to . . . someone of the [same] gender." Latency period, anyone? Not anymore. According to SIECUS, "values inherent in the Guidelines include": that a "sexually healthy adult will appreciate his or her own body," "affirm his or her own sexual orientation," and "enjoy and express his or her sexuality throughout life." Also, he or she will "exercise democratic responsibility to influence legislation dealing with sexual issues." Someone who doesn't vote for a SIECUS-favored candidate, therefore, isn't just a bad citizen; he is sexually unhealthy.
SIECUS lists "Fantasy," "Oral sex," and "Pleasure" as suggested "sexuality topics for parent-child discussions." "It is normal," reassures Felix E. Gardon, outreach coordinator of SIECUS, "for you to feel uncomfortable talking to your children about sexuality," but you must. "Approaching the issue when your children are still toddlers" is ideal. Gardon even provides some tips for "talking with infants and toddlers (0-2 years)" about sex, making sure they know all the real names of all the parts of their body and so forth. You may be only "0" years old, but since, as the Guidelines state, "all persons are sexual," that includes you.
New Jersey's Family Life program begins its instruction about birth control, masturbation, abortion, and puberty in kindergarten. Ten years ago, when the program started, teachers were uncomfortable with it. According to the coordinator of the program, Claire Scholz, "some of our kindergarten teachers were shy—they didn't like talking about scrotums and vulvas." But in time, she reports, "they tell [me] it's no different from talking about an elbow." In another sex ed class in Colorado, all the girls were told to pick a boy in the class and practice putting a condom on his finger. Schools in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, get a head start on AIDS instruction, teaching it in second grade, four years earlier than state requirements.
It is very strange to be on the receiving end of all this enlightenment, before the onset of sexual awakening. I remember when the sex educator arrived in my fourth-grade Wisconsin public elementary school classroom, carrying a Question Box, with black question marks all over it. It was our learning tool, she explained. Opening the lid, she pulled out a long white slip of paper and cheerily read: "And the first question is . . . 'What is 69?' "
Some boys in the corner giggled. "Now remember, boys and girls," the woman continued, "there is absolutely nothing to giggle about! The first thing we're going to learn in Human Growth and Development is that no question is off limits!" After what seemed like 69 attempts to explain the number 69, I raised my hand: "May I please go to the bathroom?" I hid there for awhile that day.
A week later, in time for our next sex ed class, I arrived at school toting a note from my mother. Thereafter, I sat out sex ed in the library. I always felt bad for the girls who didn't have this escape, because after each sex ed session, as the lockers slammed and everyone prepared for the next class, the boys would pick on them, in a strange, new kind of teasing.
"Kelly, do you masturbate?" one boy would say. Then another boy would say, "It's really natural to masturbate, you know." Or: "Why aren't you developing, Kelly? It's time for you to be developing, didn't you hear? You may be a treasure, Kelly, but you ain't got no chest!"
And so on. Invariably, I noticed, just before the girl would burst into tears, she would always say the same thing: "The teacher says that if you tease us about what we learn in class, then you haven't understood the principle of RESPECT." Respect is a very important doctrine in sex education class. Indeed, sex ed teachers often use Respect, a puppet turtle, to teach elementary-school children about their "private places." Unfortunately, the sex ed teacher would be gone by then, so no one really cared about what we had learned from Respect the turtle.
My public school wasn't unique. In 1993, more than 4,200 school-age girls reported to Seventeen magazine that "they have been pinched, fondled or subjected to sexually suggestive remarks at school, most of them . . . both frequently and publicly." Researchers from Wellesley College, following up on the magazine's survey, found "that nearly two-fifths of the girls reported being sexually harassed daily and another 29 percent said they were harassed weekly. More than two-thirds said the harassment occurred in view of other people. Almost 90 percent were the target of unwanted sexual comments or gestures." School officials do very little about this, the Wellesley College researchers also found. One 13-year-old girl from Pennsylvania told them: "I have told teachers about this a number of times; each time nothing was done about it."
More recently, psychologist Mary Pipher reports in Reviving Ophelia that she is seeing an increasing number of girls who are "school refusers," that is, girls who "tell me they simply cannot face what happens to them at school." One client, Pipher says, "complained that boys slapped her behind and grabbed her breasts when she walked to her locker." Then "another wouldn't ride the school bus because boys teased her about oral sex." Pipher concludes that the harassment that girls experience in the 1990s is "much different in both quality and intensity" from the teasing she received as a girl in the late fifties.
For some reason, no one connects this kind of harassment and early sex education. But to me the connection was obvious from the start, because the boys never teased me—they assumed I didn't know what they were referring to. Whenever they would start to tease me, they always stopped when I gave them a confused look and said, "I have no idea what you guys are talking about. I was in the library." They would almost be apologetic: "Oh, right—you're the weirdo who always goes to the library." And they would pass me by.
But teasing is the least of it. As they confidently promote this early sex education, our school officials are at a loss when it comes to dealing with the new problem of sodomy-on-the-playground. It's hard to keep up with all the sexual assault cases that plague our public schools in any given month. Take only two examples, both reported in the New York Daily News: "A 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted at her Queens high school this week, police said. The victim . . . told cops she was accosted by four teenage boys about 12:45 p.m. Tuesday in a stairwell at Hillcrest High School. . . . While two of the boys stood lookout, the other two sodomized the girl, police said. . . . The attack at Hillcrest occurred less than two weeks after six students were charged in two sodomy attacks on a girl at Martin Luther King Jr. High School in Manhattan" (October 17, 1997).
"Four Bronx boys—the oldest only 9—ganged up on a 9-year-old classmate and sexually assaulted her in a schoolyard, police charged yesterday. . . . [The girl's mother] said she is furious with Principal Anthony Padilla, who yesterday told parents the attack never happened. . . . The girl's parents and sisters are also outraged that when the traumatized third-grader told a teacher, she was merely advised to wash out her mouth and was given a towel wipe" (October 21, 1997).
The associative link between the disenchanting of sex and increased sexual brutality among children works like this: if our children are raised to believe, in the words of that New Jersey kindergarten teacher, that talking about the most private things is "no different from talking about an elbow," then they are that much more likely to see nothing wrong in certain kinds of sexual violence. What's really so terrible, after all, in making someone touch or kiss your elbow?
It may turn out that the natural embarrassment sex education seeks so prissily to erode points to a far richer understanding of sex than do our most explicit sex manuals. Today, those in kindergarten are urged to overcome their "inhibitions" before they have a clue what an inhibition means. Yet embarrassment is actually a wonderful thing, signaling that something very strange or very significant is going on. Without embarrassment, kids are weaker: more vulnerable to pregnancy, disease, and heartbreak.
If "overcoming your embarrassment" is one mantra of sex education, "taking responsibility for your sexuality" is another. The health guidelines for the ninth grade in the Newton, Massachusetts, public schools, called the Student Workbook for Sexuality and Health, inform us that not only do "Sexually Healthy Adolescents . . . decide what is personally 'right' and act on these values," but also they "take responsibility for their own behavior." Grown-ups get the same advice. Author Karen Lehrman warns: "What does undermine feminism is women . . . refusing to take responsibility for their sexuality." Camille Paglia writes: "Every woman must take personal responsibility for her sexuality."
Fine: but if you're a child, you're not sure what taking responsibility for your sexuality entails. And as you grow up, the cult of taking responsibility for your sexuality is essentially a call to action. It inculcates a view of sex that is autonomous and cut off from obligation—whether familial obligation or obligation to one's "sex partner" (as the locution has it).
If "taking responsibility for your sexuality" means "decid[ing] what is personally 'right' and act[ing]" accordingly, that holds true even if what is "right" for you is homosexuality. (The cool postmodern quotation marks around "right" tell us that the term is relative not absolute, subjective not objective—nineties morality through and through.) And sure enough, that's the message the SIECUS fact sheets on "Sexual Orientation and Identity" teach: "SIECUS believes that an individual's sexual orientation—whether bisexual, homosexual, or heterosexual—is an essential part of sexual health and personality. SIECUS strongly supports the right of each individual to accept, acknowledge, and live in accordance with his or her orientation." In other words, pick an orientation and act on it, the sooner, the better.
In Massachusetts's sex ed program, says Ron Barndt, a Newton public high school teacher, there is a "real emphasis on trying to normalize homosexuality." High schools are pressured to create Gay/Straight Alliances, to promote a "healthy relationship between people of different sexual orientations." All over the school, placards read: "Are you aware that 1 out of 10 people are gay?" or, "How do you know what orientation you are?" Former governor William Weld's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth recommended "that every High School in Massachusetts which does not have a Gay/Straight Alliance form one."
Last July, Alexander Sanger, president of Planned Parenthood of New York City, penned an op-ed in the New York Daily News, "Sex Ed is More Than Just Saying No: Teens Need All the Facts," explaining why he opposed programs that "preached abstinence." Such programs, he charged, "gag educators rather than teach and empower teens" and therefore "don't merit our money or support." Contends Sanger: "In a perfect world, teenagers would wait until they're older and wiser to have sex. But the fact is, 75 percent of American teens have sex before high school graduation. In New York, more than 54,000 teens, ages 15 to 19, become pregnant each year." Therefore, he concludes, "teens need all the facts."
Where does he think all this high school sex and all these pregnancies are suddenly coming from? Doesn't he find it even a bit curious that the more we do what he prescribes, the more such behavior occurs? Most studies find that knowledge about AIDS or HIV does not decrease risky behavior. A 1988 study in the American Journal of Public Health, which examined exactly the year when public health information about AIDS grew, found that no increased condom use among San Francisco's sexually active adolescents resulted. A 1992 study in Pediatrics conducted a broader investigation and ended up warning: "It is time to stop kidding ourselves into thinking that our information-based preventative actions are enough or are effective." This shouldn't be so surprising. As New York's sex-ed Curriculum Guide argues explicitly: "children need to know" that "sexuality is a natural and healthy part of life. HIV/AIDS instruction should not create unnecessary fears about sexuality and sexual intimacy."
The few studies that do demonstrate that sex education changes the behavior of students conclude it is only likely to make them more sexually active. A 1991 study in Family Planning Perspectives, for example, found that instruction on contraception was significantly correlated with an earlier onset of sexual activity. Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which supports contraceptive-based sex education, notes that teen pregnancy rates have increased 23 percent from 1972 to 1990, and a full one-third of the nation's 20 million STDs yearly strike teens—all during the years comprehensive sex education became widespread.
But beyond this, how does Alexander Sanger imagine he was born, if his parents were never given "the facts"? The ground in dispute was never whether we would get the facts—but how and when. Do we get the opportunity to seek out the facts when we are ready? Or do we have them forced upon us when we're not ready, when we're inclined to yawn about the whole thing and conclude it's no big deal? It's really not very complicated why so many kids are getting pregnant these days, now that we have so much sex education on top of a wholly sexualized culture. It's because sex is not a big deal to them, and because they think this is what they are expected to do. They are just trying to be normal kids, to please people like Alexander Sanger and prove that they are "sexually healthy." So not only has sex education failed on its own terms, but it has worsened the problem it was intended to solve.
Sex educators have no shortage of explanations for why their programs don't work. Like the advocates of so many other failed nostrums, they contend that we haven't pushed sex ed hard enough. For example, Randy Sheiner, the Senior Public Health Educator for the New York Department of Health, recently aired his frustration over the New York public schools' condom-distribution program with me. In most schools, he explained, "you have to go all the way to the resource room to get these condoms, and kids might not want to do that. Therefore, the people most at risk, they're not getting their complete education. It flies in the face of self-awareness."
How could we possibly get more "comprehensive" than AIDS education in kindergarten and condom availability in high school? "Woodies," Sheiner replied. "Woodies are wooden models of penises. Without them, it's very hard to know how to put on a condom properly. So far we're not allowed to have them." This if-we-only-had-woodies philosophy seeps through all of sex education. If we were only a little more explicit, a little more perverse, a little less squeamish, then we could finally attain sex education Arcadia: no diseases, no unwanted pregnancies, no hurt feelings, and no obligations.
If sex ed is failing at its primary goal of keeping kids from getting pregnant, how is it doing at its secondary goal of giving them sex lives rich in pleasure and fulfillment? The vision that sex educators inculcate, starting with kindergarten—a vision of autonomous sexuality stripped of all embarrassment—leads to relationships that are utterly disenchanted. The young men and women of my generation don't "make love"; they merely "hook up" when they come together. Here is Sex on Campus: The Naked Truth About the REAL SEX Lives of College Students, 1997, explaining the "hook-up": "If you realize almost immediately after you finish having sex that this will definitely be a one-time-only event and you really don't want to pursue any relationship—even a purely physical one—with this person, try not to sleep through the night with the person. It may seem awfully awkward and it may be late at night, but get up, get dressed, say, 'Thank you for a wonderful evening,' and go home. . . . Leaving someone with whom you've just traded bodily fluids can seem strange, rude, and inconsiderate, but at least you'll have the knowledge that you were being honest, and it will make things less complicated down the road."
Hook-up is my generation's word for having sex (or oral sex) or sometimes for what used to be called "making out." The hook-up connotes the most casual of connections. Any emotional attachment deserves scorn and merits what Sex on Campus calls a dangerously high "ball-and-chain rating." It's a strange expression, hooking up—like airplanes refueling in flight: not just unerotic but almost inanimate. Without embarrassment or "hang-ups," we are finding, there cannot be any surrender. We can only hook up.
Sex education failed because it got the reality exactly backward: in fact students are smart and already know how it's done. When young, they look to adults not, pace SIECUS, to explain "fantasy," "oral sex," and "pleasure" to them, but to know what it all means, where it all is leading: that is, they want to know from adults how not to do it. But to those in charge of sex education, abstinence is unrealistic and there's never anything of value in sexual sublimation. At times, their kids-will-do-it-anyway ideology even takes on a racialist tinge. As Felix Gardon avers in a recent SIECUS fact sheet, abstinence education "will prove devastating and problematic for low-income communities with Latino, African-American, Asian Pacific and Native American populations." These groups "are involved in sexual behavior" and apparently cannot control themselves. Without sex educators like Gardon toting condoms and showing them the True Safe Way, all would be lost.
New York State law requires sex educators to spend some time discussing abstinence, but it is an incomprehensible notion to them. As Delores Cozier, the Board of Ed's health coordinator, puts it, "Sure, I do believe in abstinence. If you start with a child coming out of the womb, he's abstinent. But after that, abstinence is a choice. The Bible also says you have to procreate. How you gonna procreate if you're talkin' about abstinence?"
It is not hard to see why, in the context of sex education, abstinence is not compelling: it is just one choice out of many—the choice for immature kids, who aren't "ready yet." Little wonder, then, that the Alan Guttmacher Institute found that the abstinence program widely used in California schools "produced only small changes in some teens' sexual attitudes but did not affect the frequency of intercourse or the number of sexual partners."
But programs that present abstinence not in a relativistic way but as the unequivocally right thing to do often succeed. A 1996 Northwestern University Medical School longitudinal study found that 54 percent of the teens who had been sexually active before participating in an abstinence-centered program were no longer sexually active one year later. And whenever Lakita Garth, a former Miss Black California, travels around the country to talk to kids about why they should be abstinent until marriage, she receives a deluge of letters. "The irony of it all is that people say kids don't want to hear an abstinence message, especially these troubled kids," she reports. "But they're actually the most receptive. I couldn't believe the response."
Disenchanted sex hasn't seemed to increase the sum of happiness for my generation, certainly not for the women. We're flocking to Jane Austen movies because we're sick of having the facts shoved in our faces all the time, and we want to be permitted to hope for something more in our lives than all this dreary crudeness. Even in one of its own reports, SIECUS admitted that girls are much less likely than boys to say that they "really feel good about their sexual experiences so far." They are also more likely to say "they were 'in love' with their last sexual partner." The solution to all these romantic disappointments? More sex education.
Yet as time passes and these girls become women, their pain seems only to grow sharper. The March 1998 issue of Glamour magazine, for instance, reports that 49 percent of women wish they had slept with fewer men, compared with 7 percent who wish they had slept with more men and 44 percent who are happy with their number as it is. Those who were happiest with their number were generally those who, like Nina, 30, had had one partner—her husband. As for the majority of women who were unhappy with their sexual experiences, they were for the most part like Ellen, 29, who said: "I wish I hadn't given so much of myself—I feel that some of my experiences thinned my soul, and such an effect takes time to undo." She had 23 partners. No diseases: presumably she practiced safe sex. Her predicament is one that the sex educators cannot address and, indeed, can only worsen. Her unhappiness comes not from knowing too little, but from knowing too much, too soon.
In her 1993 memoir The Beginning of the Journey, Diana Trilling describes the simple courtship she had with famed literary critic Lionel Trilling in the late twenties: they dated, they drank cocktails, they argued heatedly over politics. "On Bullfrogs and Alexanders, Lionel and I got to know each other well enough to decide to marry." Six months prior to their wedding, they went to bed together, she reveals, a fact that caused her deep shame at the time. Would her father find out? It was a radical act, a real risk, "a violation of convention." In her world, "necking was the chief premarital sexual activity." In any case, in six months they married, and after their 50 years together, Trilling says, "I have never met any man to whom I would rather have been married." Though they fought, to be sure, "over a long lifetime, we loved each other very much, . . . and there was never a time or situation in which we could not trust or count on one another."
And yet, and yet . . . after half a century with Lionel and some two decades as a widow, Trilling wonders: was the hush-hush way her generation treated sex really right? "At seventeen," she writes, "I overheard my mother talking to a woman of a younger and more progressive generation than her own; she was explaining that the sexual ignorance—'innocence' was the word she used—in which she and her contemporaries reared their daughters was designed to preserve their illusions. Was she, I wonder, being honest?"
However reluctant Trilling may be to admit it, though, her illusions were for the most part fulfilled. She could always count on Lionel; she had "never met any man to whom I would rather have been married." Hers is an all-too-common refrain among women of a certain age. They generally take for granted the dating, the courtship rituals, the early marriage they enjoyed, and—what now almost never exists—the lifetime companionship, the simple trust one has with a spouse who is also one's first lover. To them, "innocence" is always in ironic quotes; it was just a word their mothers used. They do not make the connection between this initial innocence and the lasting love that came after. They do not realize that those earnest, highly sublimated political conversations they had are impossible now because adolescents flatter themselves that they are getting right to the point by just having sex. They do not realize that if boys and girls argue seriously at all anymore, they will argue only about the girl's "hang-ups."
And so they wonder, as if trying on a new dress: Hmm . . . maybe I was oppressed? Maybe, in retrospect, the expectation that I be a virgin at marriage was calculated to cheat me out of a good time? They seem to fancy they are being worldly and up-to-the-minute by contemplating such daring thoughts. They have no idea how naive they sound to the women who came after them, who drool over, and would give up their law careers for, the kind of lifelong love Mrs. Trilling describes—for the kind of world that, at the end of her life, she was so prepared to toss into the garbage bin.
Even SIECUS is starting to realize that all is not well in the world of sex ed. In an astonishing 1997 report, But Does it Work? Improving Evaluations of Sexuality Education, SIECUS essentially conceded defeat. A team of experts, 15 of the "nation's most prominent researchers in sexuality education," concluded in an October 1996 symposium that sex ed hadn't done a thing to reduce teen pregnancy or delay the onset of sexual intercourse. But these goals are "extremely difficult to attain," the panel protested. "Teenage childbearing is affected by many social and economic factors such as poverty, racism, sexism, job opportunities, past history of sexual abuse," and so on. What's more, "changing human behavior is difficult and . . . simple educational efforts themselves have often met with limited success."
We should evaluate sex ed according to different criteria, the panel argues. Proper "evaluations of comprehensive sexuality education should go beyond measuring changes in whether young people are having intercourse, or whether they are using a contraceptive method." (Whenever one hears the word "beyond" in this context, it means that the end of that subject is near, as in, "We need to go beyond students just memorizing their multiplication tables.") "Evaluations of school-based-sexuality education should focus on changes in knowledge, attitudes, and skills. Be cautious about measuring outcomes outside the classroom." Be cautious about measuring anything tangible, that is; only measure outcomes that cannot be measured.
Let us give sex education the benefit of the doubt. Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that it is in no way responsible for the rise in teenage pregnancies, that it is in no way blamable for the rise in school sexual assaults, and that it is in no way answerable for the degradation of sex to a mere "hook-up." If we accept SIECUS's explanation that sex education has met with "limited success" only because there are simply so many other variables at work, well, isn't that even worse? Why in the world are we spending tax dollars on all these educators, coordinators, and alliances, if they don't do a thing? Why are we wasting precious class time on all these programs if indeed "changing human behavior is difficult" and "educational efforts themselves have often met with limited success"?
"Woodies" aside, the simple fact remains that you just can't get any more comprehensive than teaching about AIDS in kindergarten. If that doesn't work, there is nothing left to do but pack up your Question Box and go home.