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Cube Jockey
I happened upon a little gem in Mark Morford's latest rant today about abstinence programs. The article that serves as the basis of his column can be found on MSNBC.com.

There have been plenty of studies in the past that have stated that abstinence programs were ineffective and in fact dangerous. In fact mere common sense should lead you to this conclusion in today's world. The thing that makes this study so different in my opinion (and hopefully drives it home) is the fact that it was written by conservatives this time from Texas A&M University of all places. I attended Texas A&M and I can assure you, you can't get much more conservative than that unless you happen to be attending Bob Jones University.

QUOTE
Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.

“We didn’t see any strong indications that these programs were having an impact in the direction desired,” said Dr. Buzz Pruitt, who directed the study.


Given their effectiveness, even as rated by conservative studies, you'd think the government might stop funding these programs. Think again:
QUOTE
The federal government is expected to spend about $130 million to fund programs advocating abstinence in 2005, despite a lack of evidence that they work, Pruitt said.

“The jury is still out, but most of what we’ve discovered shows there’s no evidence the large amount of money spent is having an effect,” he said.


Questions for debate:
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?
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logophage
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

If the science is good, then I agree with it. If the science is good, it doesn't matter who does the study: conservatives, progressives, little green men. Of course, I'll have to do some more personal research to determine if I believe the science is in fact good.

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

This is yet another example of the lack of "limited government" in the Republican leadership. These things should be studied before funding to determine if the money would be well-spent. If studies are demonstrating that these programs aren't working, then the money should not be spent on these programs. It's pretty simple really.
Victoria Silverwolf
I think that the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education has been shown again and again. The whole idea needs to be thrown out of any school funded by the government.

I have no objection at all to giving young people a very strong message that choosing to become sexually active is a very serious decision; one of the most important they will ever make. I would certainly encourage education that gives accurate information about the dangers of sexually tranmitted diseases, and the tragedy of unwanted pregnancy. This information must be combined with accurate information about ways to reduce these risks for those who choose to become sexually active.
Christopher
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Neither abstinence nor sexual education classes will work until we make very basic changes in our culture. The attitudes boys are given to view sex as a game to be played and won by scoring as many points as possible--therby relegating girls and women to the status of game animals needs to be adressed.

Girls need to be raised to never have the impression they will only be valuable-- or even worse-- loved if they do not give in sexually. This REALLY needs to be fundamentally altered. Of all the POVs from our past is the attitude towards women as being subservient and of secondary social importance has been the most harmful. While many will argue that the changes that occured in the period from the 60s to present have freed women i would argue it has trapped many more in even worse straits. women have been encouraged to be more like men--Who thought that was a good idea?
We had a shift from the cultural view that sex was something not spoken about by proper ladies--Just grin and bear it-- to the other extreme of the Sex in the City whenever where ever.

The flaw in that is that men don't get pregnant. we also have the option of slinking away and avoiding responsibility. Women are stuck with the consequences. Even if they decide to abort there remains the mental anguish of the decision.

A few classes in school however are not going to have any effect when our culture is steeped in sexuality and only a fool beleives you can control hormonal teens by just saying No. wacko.gif
CruisingRam
I think they are pretty clearly ineffective- and even worse, as the link provided noted- it actually increases the risk of teen pregnancy.

I also think that Christopher hit it pretty closely- our sexual mores today are completely out of control. I am a 40 year old male of only middle atractiveness, that is to say, I don't scare small children or women, but I won't make the 50 most beautiful lists either LOL- I can not BELIEVE the forwardness of younger women today- they are what I would expect of, well, men w00t.gif - I guess I would have found this mighty convenient in my single days, but now I worry about how my daughter will react to this over-sexed culture today.

Abstinence programs have always been rather silly and pie-in-the-sky, obviously not reality based. It is too bad we keep throwing money in them anyway- when there is at least some benefit to sex education and condom education etc.
Paladin Elspeth
QUOTE
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

I agree with the study's conclusion. Tell a fat person repeatedly that he/she is not to have a banana split, and that fat person will not be thinking about salads.

Let's put it this way: Since when did the majority of teenagers give a rip about their parents' concerns, especially when the biological imperative seems to be driving them crazy?

Or we could ask how much their parents abstain from sex outside of marriage?

QUOTE
2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Absolutely not. Either the kids are going to engage in sex or they are not. Even with girls who wear "promise rings," the temptation is great and, in the heat of the moment, they give in to biological urges. (And these are the girls who end up having unprotected sex.)

There used to be shame in knowing a child was born out of wedlock. I'm not saying it's bad that children are no longer held in disdain if they are born to unmarried women (all children should be valued).

Some young women cherished their virginity until marriage when they wore a white dress to symbolize that virginity...there was a sense of honor and dignity which is all but gone now. Now it seems to be all about not waiting for personal gratification; it's got to be now.

We can expect that children will be raised according to the moral code of their parents. Then that moral code runs head-on into the mores and expectations of teenagers. A measure of a young person's character is shown by how much that young person is willing to compromise in order to fit in.

The government can in no way assure us that abstinence will be followed with their program than it could assure the population that there would be no marijuana usage after kids were made to watch "Reefer Madness."
overlandsailor
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

It does not take a degree, a study, or even a remotely decent education to know that Abstinence ONLY is an exercise in futility. All you need is life experience to tell you that. Either a good memory of your life as a teenager, or your current experiences raising one. Telling kids not to do something simply does not work all that often. In fact, many kids will take it as a challenge, or a sign that this is something that is cool to do (I know that is how I approached things as a kid). Limiting sexual education to this level, limits it to the only basic concept the majority of parents, even the lazy ones, bother to pass on to their kids. What kids need is to know that options exist, options that many parents are too embarrassed, or too lazy to teach.

If you are going to limit sexual education to ONLY teaching Abstinence, then don't waste the resources. Use the time more wisely focusing on civics or other classes because kids already know they have the option not to have sex, and kids, being logical creatures realize that not doing something is the surest way to avoid negative consequences from it. And, like so many other things with possible negative consequences, where they have to choose to, or not to do it, kid frequently choose to partake anyway.

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Absolutely not. But then again, I don't think the government should be investing in many of the areas it puts our money.

This is pointless. A class on Abstinence ONLY will not be any more effective then a pamphlet limited to that subject. One look, and kids know they have heard it all before and off goes the good intentioned marketing tool, off to the circular file.

However, if you are going to have a Sexual Education class then you have to Include Abstinence in the class. It is after all the safest route, and should be used as the standard to measure the effectiveness of all other forms of "protection" against.


Side note:

QUOTE(christopher @ Feb 26 2005, 03:11 AM)
Of all the POVs from our past is the attitude towards women as being subservient and of secondary social importance has been the most harmful. While many will argue that the changes that occured in the period from the 60s to present have freed women i would argue it has trapped many more in even worse straits. women have been encouraged to be more like men--Who thought that was a good idea?
*

(emphasis mine)

Now this is simply priceless! thumbsup.gif
ReddevelYi
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

I agree that abstinence programs are not as effective as we would like them to be but to say it causes sex in teenagers is like saying the D.A.R.E. program causes drug abuse. The kids in these classes don't care what their teachers are telling them and generally don't pay attention. What does cause teenage sex is our society's continueing decrease of morals. Sex is treated like a game when it is sometihng very serious. People who don't have sex before they graduate from high school are generally regarded as freaks by their age group. Keeping these things alive on television shows and movies in what keeps teenage sex on the rise, not a class where someone you barely know tells you not to have sex.

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Yes. The classes may not be very effective but with all the sex education classes out, some perspective needs to be put on sex. Abstinence classes generally teach basic morals people need to have which seem to be over looked by parents now.
TitaniumDreads
Anybody out there in support of Abstinence only ed?

----

Well, what are the alternatives? Abstinence AND safe sex techniques. I'll bet there is someone out there opposed to teaching safe sex in schools! I would also contend that teaching safe sex as an effective alternative to abstinence only is ineffectual without access to contraceptives. If the goal were to limit teen-pregnancy the government should provide serious grants to organizations providing condoms and birth control.
Antny
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

It seems perfectly obvious that the government is idealogically driven, not realistically. This is one of the "CCR" agendas, and has been pushed hard by the Christian Right. Jefferson is probably rolling over in his grade. This is but one example of faith based idealogy trumping practical researched based programs.

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Given the Constitutional limitations of the government, the Federal Government shouldn't be meddling in education at all. The certainly shouldn't be promoting programs that are counterproductive simply because of the lobbying efforts of the Christian right. That's a large, powerful chunk of voters to cater too.

QUOTE
In FY 2005, Congress devoted approximately $170 million to abstinence-only education (Committee on Government Reform, 2004). At the state level, legislatures are copying the federal abstinence-only statute, often adding explicit prior-restraint provisions. New Jersey, for instance, proposed the imposition of close surveillance on teaching materials — and teachers. Even if such proposals don't pass, these bills have a censorial and chilling effect. Utah's governor vetoed a similar bill in that state, but directed state agencies to monitor sexuality education programs for "inappropriate" language and subject matter.


That's a pretty big chunk of tax-payer change to promote a miserably innefective program.

This article is certainly a good read for a look at what's going on at a state level. It's a bit rediculous, really.

http://www.plannedparenthood.org/pp2/porta...e-education.xml


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Hugo
It is time to cut out sex education for everyone except the special ed students. If you reach puberty and don't know what a condom is you definitely don't need to be contributing to the gene pool. Those of extremely low intelligence may well need sex education. No one else does.

We don't need to be subsidizing sexual activity by handing out free condoms either. Government run schools do not need to be subsidizing an activity that the parents of their students may well not wish them to be participating in.
ReddevelYi
QUOTE(Hugo @ Feb 27 2005, 10:01 PM)
It is time to cut out sex education for everyone except the special ed students. If you reach puberty and don't know what a condom is you definitely don't need to be contributing to the gene pool. Those of extremely low intelligence may well need sex education. No one else does.

We don't need to be subsidizing sexual activity by handing out free condoms either. Government run schools do not need to be subsidizing an activity that the parents of their students may well not wish them to be participating in.
*



How do you think people learn about these things? From they're parents? Parents' unwillingness to talk about uncomfortable subjects with their children is why the sex education program was born. Sitcoms? They just say the words but kids will not understand them. Sex education puts things into context for children who don't know what these things are. Ignorance is different is than stupidity.
Wertz
I have never seen a single study anywhere which indicates that Abstinence Only education has reduced teen pregnancy or the spread of STDs in the least. I have seen numerous studies which indicate that they make no difference whatsoever - and I've seen a couple which indicate that they increase the likelihood of teen pregnancy and the risk of STDs.

Does this question even need to asked of rational beings?

Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

I agree that they are totally ineffective and, I would add, dangerous. Whether they lead to increased sexual activity is, I think, a bit more debatable. It's clear, though, that they in no way reduce sexual activity. This has nothing to do with the findings of a conservative institution. The only thing I find remarkable about that is that the study wasn't buried entirely.

Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

The federal government shouldn't be investing in them, period. As far as I'm concerned, teaching Abstinence Only is teaching ignorance, guilt, and irresponsibility. And that's the crux. We don't need to teach abstinence, we need to teach responsibility. If responsibility means an individual abstaining from sex altogether, fine. If it means have safe sex with a consenting partner, fine. If it means having unprotected sex and being prepared to take on the raising of a child or slow death from an AIDS-related illness, fine. But to teach that abstinence is the only option is sheer folly and instills responsibility for little more than denying that one is human.

While Abstinence Only education may or may not increase the likelihood of sexual activity, it undeniably increases guilt - and I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was a contributing factor to our tragically high teen suicide rate. In either case, Abstinence Only education is like trying to teach students that they don't live in a body. Some may wish to blame the fact that we do happen to live in bodies on television or parents or immorality unspecified, but that is a denial of reality which borders on the psychotic. And it's on the wrong side of the border.

Unless and until we evolve into creatures composed entirely of ether, who reproduce asexually, teenagers are going to have sex. And if the federal government is going to invest in sex education as a public health issue at all (and I'm not arguing that they should), then that money would be far better spent on the distribution of condoms.

Which population is going to be at less risk from the spread of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, which population is going to be at less risk of unwanted pregnancy: a high school full of students with condoms in their hip pockets or a high school full of students with abstinence pledges in their hip pockets? When those hip pockets are bunched around their ankles, I don't think answers come much more self-evident.

Abstinence Only education does nothing more than promote misery and death. No one who gives a damn about our young people should even consider supporting such a failed and misguided program - never mind throwing money at it.
rjp2004
I offer the following info as an additional source of info on the topic. Feel free to make your own conclusions about it.

1. The Texas A&M study is incomplete and lacking according to it's own author.

QUOTE
the Associated Press did note that A&M researcher Buzz Pruitt “cautioned against drawing overarching conclusions from the study, which is incomplete and does have flaws" including the lack of a control group that would permit measurement of whether the increase in sexual activity would be even greater if teens had no abstinence education at all.
Link

2. More comprehensive national studies have shown abstinence only programs to be effective.

QUOTE
According to a four-year study, released in the April 2003 issue of the Journal Adolescent and Family Health, sexual abstinence-not condom use-is the principal reason for the decline in the birth and pregnancy rates to teenage girls. In fact, abstinence accounted for 100 percent of the decline in the teen birthrate and 67 percent of the decline in the pregnancy rate to single teens.
link

And also:

QUOTE
Young women who take a virginity pledge are about 40 percent less likely to have a child out of wedlock when compared to similar young women who do not make such a pledge, according to recently released data (2004) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
link

3. Contraceptive based sex programs receive 12 dollars for every dollar abstinence programs receives! Previously its been estimated that 1.7 billion is being spent annually on contraceptive based promotion. link

What's your reaction to this information?


















DaffyGrl
Despite those who trumpet the success of abstinence programs, I have to say I don’t believe teenagers having more oral and anal sex is a good thing. No information is dangerous. Misinformation is even more dangerous.
QUOTE
Many American youngsters participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy," a congressional staff analysis has found.
<snip>
President Bush has enthusiastically backed the movement, proposing to spend $270 million on abstinence projects in 2005. Congress reduced that to about $168 million, bringing total abstinence funding to nearly $900 million over five years. It does not appear that the abstinence-only curricula are being taught in the Washington area.
<snip>
Some course materials cited in Waxman's report present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." One book in the "Choosing Best" series tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."  WA Post

QUOTE
Although young people who sign a virginity pledge delay the initiation of sexual activity, marry at younger ages and have fewer sexual partners, they are also less likely to use condoms and more likely to experiment with oral and anal sex, said the researchers from Yale and Columbia universities.

Conservative academics said the paper overlooked earlier important findings about adolescents who take virginity pledges, most notably that they have fewer pregnancies and out-of-wedlock births. WA Post

Sure, maybe teen pregnancies are down. I wonder how much the rate of STD’s, hemorrhoids, rectal tears, etc. have increased? Not to gross anyone out, but…
QUOTE
"Sometimes a teen will come in complaining of a mouth sores and sore throat with yellow-green phlegm," Kushner said. "If we test for strep throat and it's negative and they tell us they're sexually active, we then test for sexually transmitted diseases," she said. "We're seeing more of it now." Teens

Oh, ick. sour.gif

Now, technically, teenagers (girls, anyway) who engage in oral or anal sex are still “virgins”, if an intact hymen is the only barometer of virginity. However, they hardly define what a virgin is, or is supposed to be; chaste and pure. A guy at work shook his head and said (only half-joking) that all the kids were having “porn” sex now.
Jack22
QUOTE
1a.  Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers?


I think rpj2004 has shown that even the study's author disagrees that one can conclude from it that abstience programs are ineffective and lead to increased promiscuity:

QUOTE
the Associated Press did note that A&M researcher Buzz Pruitt “cautioned against drawing overarching conclusions from the study, which is incomplete and does have flaws" including the lack of a control group that would permit measurement of whether the increase in sexual activity would be even greater if teens had no abstinence education at all.


Also, those tested were exposed to abstience-only education, but they had also been exposed to safe-sex messages at other times, on TV if not in other grade levels. As a result, this study only samples students receiving mixed messages.

QUOTE
1b.  Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?


I think this is a misleading fact, more of an opinion:

QUOTE(Cube Jockey @ Feb 25 2005, 06:40 PM)
The thing that makes this study so different in my opinion (and hopefully drives it home) is the fact that it was written by conservatives this time from Texas A&M University of all places.  I attended Texas A&M and I can assure you, you can't get much more conservative than that unless you happen to be attending Bob Jones University.


I challenge the "fact" that it was written by conservatives.

I am also an Aggie (class of '93. Whoop!) and my impression was that the administration, faculty and student paper (The Batt) are as liberal as any other major university, while the student body is predominantly (sickeningly?) conservative. For example, the administration and faculty have spent decades trying to turn the on campus health center (quack shack) into an abortion clinic, only to be thwarted each time by massive student protests and alumni pressure. So, I would disagree that research conducted at Texas A&M to be conducted by conservatives, except maybe at the lowest levels, even though it might not be wrong to cateogorize Texas A&M as a "conservative institution," but only due to the nature of its student body.

QUOTE
2.  Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?
*



QUOTE(rjp2004)
2. More comprehensive national studies have shown abstinence only programs to be effective.


Given evidence such as that cited by rjp2004, I would challenge the premise that there is a lack of evidence that these programs work.

QUOTE(rjp2004)
3. Contraceptive based sex programs receive 12 dollars for every dollar abstinence programs receives! Previously its been estimated that 1.7 billion is being spent annually on contraceptive based promotion. link

What's your reaction to this information?


If this information is correct, and if in general the messages are sent in rough proportion to their budgets, then it would seem the safe-sex message is drowning out the abstience message at a rate of 12:1. As a result, I'd like to see a situtation where the budgets are on a more even playing field, with the abstience-only budget matching the safe-sex budget dollar-for-dollar.

However, I think we already have a better control group for this-- history. For a long time, the abstience-only message was the only message sent, and as a result, teen sexual activity and pregnancy was exremely low by today's standards. Teen sexual activity and pregnancy skyrocketed dramatically after society and schools transitioned from an abstinance-only to a safe-sex message. Q.E.D.
Lesly
QUOTE(rjp2004 @ Apr 12 2005, 12:59 PM)
I offer the following info as an additional source of info on the topic. Feel free to make your own conclusions about it. 

2. More comprehensive national studies have shown abstinence only programs to be effective.

QUOTE
According to a four-year study, released in the April 2003 issue of the Journal Adolescent and Family Health, sexual abstinence-not condom use-is the principal reason for the decline in the birth and pregnancy rates to teenage girls. In fact, abstinence accounted for 100 percent of the decline in the teen birthrate and 67 percent of the decline in the pregnancy rate to single teens.
link

And also:

QUOTE
Young women who take a virginity pledge are about 40 percent less likely to have a child out of wedlock when compared to similar young women who do not make such a pledge, according to recently released data (2004) from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.
link

3. Contraceptive based sex programs receive 12 dollars for every dollar abstinence programs receives! Previously its been estimated that 1.7 billion is being spent annually on contraceptive based promotion. link

What's your reaction to this information?
*


Skeptically ambivalent. I’ll second your post with the nonpartisan Foundation for Child Development’s study that fewer teens are having babies, and I think it may be due in part to abstinence education, but it’s not great news unless you’re more focused on welfare queens and don’t mind parents picking up the tab for STD-related medical expenses.

According to another study more teens are engaging in oral sex and virgins are just as likely to participate.

QUOTE
NEW HAVEN, Connecticut (AP) -- Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.

The latest study, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that teens pledging virginity until marriage are more likely to have oral and anal sex than other teens who have not had intercourse. That behavior, however, "puts you at risk," said Hannah Brueckner, assistant professor of sociology at Yale and one of the study's authors.

Among virgins, boys who have pledged abstinence were four times more likely to have had anal sex than teens who have remained abstinent but not as part of a pledge, according to the study. Overall, pledgers were six times more likely to have oral sex. The pledging group was also less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or get tested for STDs, the researchers found.

Data for the study was taken from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. An in-school questionnaire was given to a nationally representative sample of students in grades 7-12 and followed up with a series of in-home interviews roughly one, two, and six years later. It was funded in part by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


A abstinence proponent “called the study ‘bogus,’ disputing that those involved had pledged true ‘abstinence.’ Kids who pledge abstinence are taught that any word that has 'sex' in it is considered a sexual activity. Therefore oral sex is sex, and they are staying away."

I call the proponent's reaction denial. Abstinence and sex ed were taught at my high school. I put off pregnancy by engaging in unprotected oral sex with my boyfriend. Unfortunately my sex ed class didn’t stress oral protection. Fortunately we were both virgins and monogamous.

In case someone wants to portray my scenario as another example of sex ed increasing sexual activity among teens, don’t bother. I was raised in a conservative household in a relatively conservative community and had attended church at least once a week of my own volition since 9th grade. I was determined to experience sex in one form or another and didn’t kid myself about holding out until marriage.

To answer the debate question, I believe abstinence-only programs do lead to increased sexual activity among teens, just not the type of sex people normally anticipate.
Euromutt
1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

I'm firmly convinced that abstinence-only programs have no effect on teenagers having sex. And though I would not support the notion that abstinence-only programs might lead to "increased sex in teenagers," I would go so far as to say that I strongly suspect that they lead to an increase in undesirable consequences--such as unwanted pregnancies, spread of STDs, insufficient gratification, etc.--when compared to more candid sex ed programs. During the 1990s, the Netherlands had some of the most honest sex ed programs worldwide, and the lowest teenage pregnancy rate. I don't consider that a coincidence.

That the report has conservative origins doesn't affect my opinion in the least. At most, I might be hopeful that some American conservatives are finally facing up to reality after all these years of denial. But then when I see from Jack's post that the author is scrabbling to semi-retract his conclusions, probably as a result of a less than warm reception, that hope fades again.

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Every dollar spent on an abstinence-only program is a dollar wasted. Even if "contraceptive-based" programs are getting twelve dollars to every dollar that goes into abstinence-only programs, they're still a better investment, because less than 100% of the money is wasted. Any program that supposedly teaches abstinence, but only succeeds in teaching hypocritical ways of evading the letter of the message (such as the notion that if you stick your penis into a mouth or an anus, anything but a vagina, you're still a "virgin") is an obviously complete waste of public funds. Doubly so, in fact, since the ingrained resistance to protective devices such as condoms and dental dams may well lead to undesirable consquences, the resolution of which will probably require taxpayer funds.
Altari
I'd like to say hello, I'm new here, and please let me know if I break etiquette.

1. Do you agree or disagree with the study's conclusion that abstinence programs are ineffective and actually lead to increased sex in teenagers? Does the fact that this report comes from a conservative institution factor into your conclusion?

I disagree. Abstinence only programs have not been shown to be any less effective or ineffective than any other method of sexual education. The confusion appears to stem from 'abstinence pledgers' and kids who simply choose to remain abstinent, as this also seems to be the main problem.

-link-
QUOTE
Teens who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are more likely to take chances with other kinds of sex that increase the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a study of 12,000 adolescents suggests.

The report by Yale and Columbia University researchers could help explain their earlier findings that teens who pledged abstinence are just as likely to have STDs as their peers.


Many states have cited some success in turning attitudes more favorably towards abstinence, after the first 5 years of the program.
-link-
QUOTE
    *  Three of 10 programs had no significant impact on attitudes (Maryland, Missouri, and Nebraska);
    * Four of 10 showed increases in attitudes favorable to abstinence (Arizona, Florida, Oregon, and Washington);
    * Three of 10 showed mixed results (California, Iowa, and Pennsylvania).**


However (from the same article), two (Florida and Iowa) out of six states saw an increase in sexual activity after the teens had completed the program. Unfortunately, there is no data as to why this happened.

While I disagree that it causes more kids to have sex and that it is ineffective (it does exactly as it should, it teaches kids about sex), it is obvious that this breed of sex-ed is doing nothing for the majority of kids who will have sex either way. It does not increase their likelihood to have sex, but it does increase their likelihood of being caught, with STDs, with pregnancies and with relationships they do not understand.

2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?
I contest that a lack of evidence suggests a flaw. We have sufficient lack of evidence for many things in the universe, yet we do not oppose them on that basis.

Currently, the federal government has no choice but to be investing in them. Kids need some form of sex-ed (so sayeth the modern public school system). If a school is to receive federal funds for this, it must meet certain requirements as laid out in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act (see below). Until this is repealed, the government cannot do much (save cutting funding for sex-ed entirely) the quell spending.

-link-
QUOTE
To be eligible for Federal Title V funding, a program must be educational or motivational and address the following points:

  1. Have, as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social psychological and physical health gains to be realized by abstaining from premarital sexual activity.
  2. Teach abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage as the expected standard for all school age children.
  3. Teach that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of- wedlock pregnancies, sexually transmitted disease and associated health problems.
  4. Teach that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in the context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity.
  5. Teach that sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects.
  6. Teach that bearing children out-of- wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents and society.
  7. Teach young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances.
  8. Teach the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.


If I may digress to other posts...

QUOTE("rjp2004")

3. Contraceptive based sex programs receive 12 dollars for every dollar abstinence programs receives! Previously its been estimated that 1.7 billion is being spent annually on contraceptive based promotion.

The link you provided (-here-), while quite interesting, does nothing to adequately answer the question of the federal government.

From said article
In 2002, the federal and state governments spent an estimated $1.73 billion on a wide variety of contraception promotion and pregnancy prevention programs. More than a third of that money ($653 million) was spent specifically to fund contraceptive programs for teens

How much, exactly, was state? How much was federal? And how much of that federal money was part of the CDC initiative to ensure healthy mothers/healthy babies and reduce maternal morbidity (which includes preventing early pregnancies)?

QUOTE("logophage")
This is yet another example of the lack of "limited government" in the Republican leadership.

Interestingly enough, this is yet another example of the effects of Clinton' Welfare Reform Act. No, he didn't write it. No, he didn't vote on it. Yes, he did support it (and how!). Yes, he did sign it into law. The blame falls on both sides on this one.
BoF
QUOTE
However, I think we already have a better control group for this-- history. For a long time, the abstience [sic]-only message was the only message sent, and as a result, teen sexual activity and pregnancy was exremely [sic] low by today's standards. Teen sexual activity and pregnancy skyrocketed dramatically after society and schools transitioned from an abstinance-only to a safe-sex message. Q.E.D.


Every once in a while a post appears on these pages that is so preposterous that one wonders if the author was serious. When I first looked at this, I thought it might be an April Fool’s joke. On closer examination, I found it was made nearly two weeks after April Fool’s Day. So, I did a little research.

The information was based on figures from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) of the U. S. Department of Human Services and are provided by the ALan Guttmacher Institute. The studies were based on census figures from 1972-2000.

Since teen population as well as the number of pregnancies fluctuates each year, I used the tables in the link to figure pregnancies per 1000 for each year using Microsoft Excel.

Note: Pregnancies per 1000 population are rounded to nearest whole number.

Here are my findings:

Key to tables:

Rate Going Up
Rate Remaining the Same
Rate Going Down


If anyone wants to check my math, have at it.

Alan Guttmacher Institute Statistics on Teen Pregnancy

General Link to Guttmacher Institute

http://www.agi-usa.org/about/index.html

Teenage Girls 14 and Younger

Range= High 18 (1988 & 1990) Low 10 (1999 & 2000) per thousand
Mean=15 per thousand
Median=16 per thousand

YEAR/PREGNANCIES PER 1000

1972/No Information
1973/13
1974/14
1975/15

1976/15
1977/15
1978/15

1979/16
1980=16
1981=16
1982/16

1983/17
1984/17
1985/17
1986/17
1987/17

1988/18
1989/17
1990/18
1991/17
1992/17
1993/16
1994/16
1995/No Information
1996/13
1997/12
1998/12
1999/10
2000/10


Teenage Girls Ages 15-17

Range = High 76 (1989) to Low 48 (2000) per thousand
Mean=67 per thousand
Median=70 per thousand

1972/62
1973/66
1974/66
1975/68
1976/68
1977/67
1978/68
1979/70

1980/72
1981/72
1982/72
1983/72

1984/70
1985/71
1986/70
1987/70
1988/74
1989/76

1990/74
1991/73
1992/70

1993/71
1994/68
1995/64
1996/60
1997/57
1998/54
1999/51
2000/48


Teenage Women Ages 18-19

Range=174 High (1991) to Low 135 (2000) per thousand
Mean=157 per thousand
Median=160 per thousand

1972/148
1973/144
1974/No Information
1975/149
1976/150
1977/157
1978/160
1979/166

1980/165
1981/163
1982/161
1983/159

1984/160
1985/165

1986/162
1987/160

1988/164
1989/167
1990/172
1991/174

1992/171
1993/166
1994/161
1995/154
1996/150
1997/145
1998/141
1999/137
2000/135


Whether one is looking at the first years of the statistics (1972 or 1973) or the measures of central tendency--mean and median--teenage pregnancy rates were in 2000- were the lowest in the last 29 years. This trend held true regardless of whether the age brackets under 14, 15-17 or 18-19--when the teens were adult women. The general decline began in the 1990s.

A CNN article from 2001 bolsters the above figures:

QUOTE
There remains no evidence about whether "abstinence-only" programs, a favorite of conservatives, are effective, the review said, even as the Bush administration proposes an increase in federal funding for them. A national evaluation of a $250 million abstinence program created by the 1996 welfare law is now under way, but results are not available.

Four years ago, Kirby conducted a similar review of studies about teen pregnancy prevention and concluded that almost none of the programs that had been evaluated made a difference. This time, he reports, the findings are more optimistic.

<snip>

Experts point out that teen sexual activity has dropped as use of condoms increased -- both largely due to fear of AIDS. Still, communities often struggle when trying to create programs to reduce their rates.

Kirby's report found eight programs that showed evidence of success: five sex education programs; two community service programs that included group discussions; and one intensive program that combined sex education, health care and activities such as tutoring.


http://cnnstudentnews.cnn.com/2001/fyi/tea...x.education.ap/

I’m anxious to see what figures will emerge after the 2010 census.
Jack22
QUOTE(BoF @ Apr 25 2005, 06:39 PM)
QUOTE
However, I think we already have a better control group for this-- history. For a long time, the abstience [sic]-only message was the only message sent, and as a result, teen sexual activity and pregnancy was exremely [sic] low by today's standards. Teen sexual activity and pregnancy skyrocketed dramatically after society and schools transitioned from an abstinance-only to a safe-sex message. Q.E.D.


Every once in a while a post appears on these pages that is so preposterous that one wonders if the author was serious. When I first looked at this, I thought it might be an April Fool’s joke. On closer examination, I found it was made nearly two weeks after April Fool’s Day. So, I did a little research.
*


Your statistics don't go as far enough back in history. Society started sending the safe-sex message in the late 1950's and 1960's, leading to the pregnancy problem that Roe v. Wade was intended to solve in 1973. So, if you finish your research with statistics comparing pregnancy rates in the 19th century and earlier with pregnancy rates in the first half of the 20th century and the period between about 1950 and 1973, you might have enough data to declare my assertion preposterous. Until then, your statistics don't even cover the years I was talking about. Nice try, though.
BoF
QUOTE(Jack22 @ Apr 25 2005, 09:25 PM)
Your statistics don't go as far enough back in history. Society started sending the safe-sex message in the late 1950's and 1960's, leading to the pregnancy problem that Roe v. Wade was intended to solve in 1973. So, if you finish your research with statistics comparing pregnancy rates in the 19th century and earlier with pregnancy rates in the first half of the 20th century and the period between about 1950 and 1973, you might have enough data to declare my assertion preposterous. Until then, your statistics don't even cover the years I was talking about. Nice try, though.


Nice try yourself Jack22.

Maybe you can enlighten us with some reliable statistics, say from the end of WWII to 1972.

Should be interesting. I can hardly wait. smile.gif
carlitoswhey
There is an interesting (peer-reviewed) study out just this week on this. The "Best Friends" program has a peer-support network component to it that sounds promising. My emphasis added below - some of the results look remarkable. Note that there is NO contraception component to this program, since participants are abstaining.

I heard Elayne Bennett on the radio and she noted that most of the participants who now say they plan to marry before sex had never been to a wedding. Many of these participants are from tough neighborhoods in Washington, DC. I sure hope some of these programs can help the family structure come back among these communities.

Abstinence program shows results

QUOTE
Girls who participate in the Best Friends abstinence program are substantially less likely to use drugs or engage in premarital sex than peers who are not in the program, a study says.
    The peer-reviewed study, published this month in the Institute for Youth Development's Adolescent & Family Health, also found extraordinary results among the Best Friends' high school participants, known as Diamond Girls.
<snip>
The Lerner study compared several years of data on Best Friends girls in the District with data from girls of the same age and in school districts that were part of the federal Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS).  Mr. Lerner found that Best Friends girls were eight times less likely than YRBS girls to use drugs and more than six times less likely to have premarital sex -- both strong outcomes.
    Best Friends girls were more than twice as likely to not smoke and almost twice as likely to not drink alcohol as YRBS girls. More than 2,700 girls were involved in this comparison.
    At the high school level, a total of 800 YRBS girls and Diamond Girls were compared. Diamond Girls were nearly 120 times less likely to have premarital sex -- an "amazingly" high number, Mr. Lerner said. Diamond Girls were also 26 times less likely to use drugs, nearly nine times less likely to smoke and three times as likely to abstain from alcohol.


DaffyGrl
2. Given the lack of evidence that these programs work, should the federal government be investing so heavily in them?

Here is yet another reason the government should not fund absinence programs; they are thinly veiled evangelical outreach. The US Dept. Health & Human Services gave $1 million to the "Silver Ring Thing" project. That's my (and your) tax dollars funding what amounts to a come-to-Jesus program. Taxpayer dollars cannot and should not be used to promote religion.
QUOTE
Launched by a preacher, the "Silver Ring Thing'' uses high-tech club-style music and comedy to sell "premarital purity'' to teens who pay $15 to don a silver ring inscribed with a Bible verse admonishing them to "keep clear of all sexual sin.''
<snip>
The ALCU says Silver Ring Thing shares an IRS nonprofit number with the John Guest Evangelistic Team out of Sewickley, Pa., which runs crusades and religious radio broadcasts worldwide. Boston Herald

QUOTE
Young people who complete the Silver Ring Thing program sign a covenant "before God Almighty" to remain abstinent until marriage and receive a silver ring inscribed with the Bible passage, "God wants you to be holy, so you should keep clear of sexual sin," according to the Washington Post. According to the John Guest Evangelistic Team's newsletter, the purpose of the Silver Ring Thing program is "to saturate the United States with a generation of young people who have taken a vow of sexual abstinence until marriage and put on the silver ring," adding, "This mission can only be achieved by offering a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as the best way to live a sexually pure life," the Post reports. ACLU in its suit said that the Silver Ring Thing program is "permeated with religion" and uses "taxpayer dollars to promote religious content, instruction and indoctrination" (Connolly, Washington Post, 5/17). Medical News Today


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