Alex Blaze

Surprise: Abstinence-only education doesn't work

Filed By Alex Blaze | April 16, 2007 9:04 AM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: abstinence education, comprehensive sex education, talking points

Uh, oh. Apparently abstinence education doesn't work. From MSNBC:

Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex a few years later as those who did not, according to a long-awaited study mandated by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes, and they first had sex at about the same age as their control group counterparts -- 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc. [...]

[Vice president of public policy at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States William] Smith also said he didn't have trouble making broader generalizations about abstinence programs based on the four reviewed because "this was supposed to be their all-star lineup."

Wait for the CWA, et al., to come out with talking points about how this study isn't scientific enough and then point to unspecified "studies" or non-peer-reviewed articles about the efficacy of such programs. Hopefully, with a Democratic Congress we won't have to sit back and watch those talking points justify public policy.

It just seems like the evidence against such programs is piling up. At what point do we question whether its supporters have any interest at all in decreasing teen pregnancy and incidences of STI's?


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Jen Jorczak | April 16, 2007 9:44 AM

SURPRISE!! The fact is that no scientifically conducted study has ever concluded that abstinence-only programs are at all effective at their stated goal of keeping teens from having sex. And this one was funded and released by the federal government! The same people who are funnelling hundreds of millions of dollars each year into these programs.

If you bought a product that didn't work, you wouldn't buy it again would you? If you paid for a service that didn't get performed, you wouldn't keep hiring that company, would you?

As a long time board member of SIECUS I'm proud of the work they've done to help shine a light on the abstinence-only fiasco. Our public policy guru, Bill Smith, has worked closely with many members of Congress on this issue. One of our best friends on the Hill, and to whom we owe a huge thank-you for his leadership on this issue, is Congressman Henry Waxman.

To bring this closer to home, there was an article in the Indianapolis Star last year about a mother who was shocked when her 14 year old son came home from his Perry Township school and asked why anyone would wear a condom since they don't work.

It took her weeks to finally find out who'd taught this to her child. Ultimately it turned out to be a woman in Carmel who had a contract with the government under the Bush Administration's abstinence-only program, and who was using our tax dollars to create and implement the program taught in the youngster's Perry Township school.

The lives of our children are at risk, and the sooner we get beyond abstinence-only education, the better.

And, as always, I feel compelled to point out that abstinence only programs are absolutely ineffective with LGBT teens... After all, if kids are supposed to wait until they are married - and LGBT folks can't GET married - then what the school is telling them is "You should never have sex."

Pshaw. Our daughter didn't want to take the abstinence only program at her school for this reason. She thought it was discriminatory. Very proud of her, I didn't sign the permission slip and she sat that program out.

Thanks for sharing this piece. I agree with Bill about the extended effect that Abstinence Only has on queer youth. Is it any wonder that 49% of new HIV cases each year are 18-24 year old men who have sex with men (gay, bi, down low, etc.)

G-Spot found a great statement from Planned Parenthood that showed the federal government has spent 1.5 billion on AO programs since 1996. This should have fiscal conservatives in an uproar because it's so clearly a waste of money. But we all know the Republican party isn't really about fiscal conservativism. And they aren't even really aginst abortion if one of their girlfriends or daughters gets knocked up. The whole thing stinks like yesterday's diapers.