Thursday, April 5, 2007

Abstaining from Abstinence Education

Posted at Campus Report.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland (D) announced that he wants to end state funding for abstinence education, a move that would eliminate about a half million dollars' worth of positive programs. Strickland said, "Over the long term, there's no data that show they prevent, in a statistical sense, sexual activity outside of marriage."

There seems to be this underlying dialog going around that abstinence-only education does not work. The mantra is that there is no evidence or data that shows that abstinence-only education reduces the likelihood of premarital sex in teens. There is additional added commentary that abstinence-only education actually increases the risk to teens since they are not given "scientifically accurate" information regarding the proper use of various forms of contraception. There is a fear that teens are going to have sex anyway, so if you only tell them "no" and don't tell them how to do it safely, then you're going to have big trouble on your hands.

This is where the issue becomes somewhat muddled. I agree that if you only tell children "no", and don't tell them why, that they are likely not to listen to you. Teenagers are at an age where they are looking for answers to the questions of life. "No" is not an answer that satisfies curiosity. They need to be told of the risks and how waiting until marriage and then having a strictly monogomous relationship with your spouse who also waited until marriage, eliminates those risks. Not only is premarital sex wrong, it has devistating consequeces that go far beyond the "scientifically" and "clinically" accurate information that liberal educators want to teach. Those who want to teach this and ignore the emotional and social consequences have an agenda to reduce the moral fabric of America in the name of "tolerance" and "inclusion". They want this so badly, that they are more than willing to ignore the data that is out there regarding the success of properly administered abstinence-only education.

However, stacks of peer-reviewed research are showing the direct impact of abstinence education, including a peer-reviewed study on America's largest and oldest abstinence program, Best Friends. In Adolescent and Family Health, Dr. Robert Lerner's analysis of urban D.C. participants found that, "Despite the fact that [these students come from schools that]... are located in Wards that have higher rates of out-of-wedlock births, girls who attended the program are substantially less likely to...have sex than a comparable sample... The relative odds of 120 to 1 of a [high school] Diamond Girl abstaining from sex is a result so strong that it is unheard of in practically any empirical research."

The results from the "Best Friends" program are published in the "Adolescent & Family Health" journal Vol. 3 #4 (free registration required).

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