Carroll County's Board of Education votes tomorrow on whether the videotape "Teen AIDS in Focus" will be shown in ninth-grade classes next school year. Due to the transparently orchestrated public furor over this nine-minute video, board members may have lost sight of the real issues.
The issue is not safe sex or abstinence. The issue is making sure the county's teen-agers don't jeopardize their lives.
Not surprisingly, Carroll County teens behave like other U.S. youngsters. Recent surveys indicate about 50 percent of unmarried 15-to-19-year-old girls and 60 percent of unmarried boys of the same age are sexually active. Despite the best efforts of parents and schools, over half of Carroll County teens will likely have intercourse before marriage.
Showing the video does not mean the board is abandoning its policy of emphasizing sexual abstinence in its sex education curriculum. All other portions of the sex education curriculum -- which stress abstinence -- will remain the same. In an ideal world, teen-agers don't have sex. In an ideal world, airplanes don't crash. But before each flight, all passengers are briefed on safety procedures should there be a crash.