Friday, June 17, 2005

Abstinence Only Sex Ed is Ignorance Only

Well, studies finally show what we all knew- that the so-called "abstinence only" sex education programs touted by the Right Wing Conservatives in this country (including Bush) who are currently throwing huge amounts of taxpayer dollars into these programs, are misleading, ineffective and at times, outright dishonest. Several studies have been released over the last 6 months showing that they simply don't work.

Yet, the administration and Congress continues to funnel even more money into these programs. Why would they continue to increase funds for a program that has been shown to be ineffective? Well, the answer is simple? Its not about reducing the number of teen pregnancies- its about promoting a particular evangelical christian political agenda plain and simple and that agenda happens to frown on medically accurate sex education and information on birth control and confronting the realities as they exist.

Make no mistake- any good medically accurate sex education program INCLUDES a discussion of abstinence because that is the best way to prevent STDs and pregnancy. But the reality is that if teens choose, for one reason or another, to become sexually active, we would rather they take precautions against unwanted pregnancy and STDs (including the deadly HIV virus). To not do so is almost inhumane in my view.
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This from Planned Parenthood.org
Abstinence-Only Education Flunks
by Lisa Stokes11.12.04

Abstinence-only education — or ignorance-only education, as it has come to be known — has little, and in some cases, no impact on students' sexual behavior. That was the result of a study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The study, typical of many others on the subject, examined the impact of the state's abstinence-only sexuality education curricula, known as ENABL.

The study evaluated program activities; interviewed parents in funded and non-funded counties, student participants, target groups, and community groups; and studied secondary data, such as abstinence rates and risk and protective behaviors.

"The abstinence message is critically important but is insufficient."
The evaluator recommended that future sexuality education methods use abstinence-based curricula that include information about abstinence as well as other ways to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The study also called for longer-term projects that focused primarily on at-risk students.

The vast majority (77 percent) of parents in the funded counties told researchers that they believed it was important to both promote abstinence and teach about contraception, findings that mirror federal survey results. The study concludes, "The abstinence message is critically important but is insufficient."

The researchers also noted that the falling U.S. teen pregnancy rates are attributed to both increased access to and use of contraceptives by teens (75 percent) and teens choosing abstinence (25 percent).

Planned Parenthood affiliates nationwide play a key role in preventing teen pregnancy. Planned Parenthood of Minnesota/South Dakota (PPMSD), for example, provides teens and their families with comprehensive reproductive health education and services. PPMSD's professional and teen educators work with community members through parent-child workshops, after-school programs, and job preparation and peer education programs to teach parents and teens about abstinence, other methods of pregnancy prevention, and prevention of sexually transmitted infections.