Wednesday, November 07, 2007

One More Time: Abstinence Only Doesn't Work, Comprehensive Programs Do

On Monday of this week, here and at Huffington Post, I blogged about the proposed $28 million increase for the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage program.

This morning, the National Campaign, a nonpartisan organization that has prided itself on being a "big tent" for people concerned with teenage pregnancy, bringing together conservative organizations with more mainstream groups, issued a new report, Emerging Answers 2007, that should be the final nail in the abstinence-only program.

My friend and colleague Dr. Doug Kirby is the author of the report, and after reviewing 115 rigorous studies, he concludes that a majority of the comprehensive sex education programs help young people delay and use protection when they do have sex, and that not one of the evaluated federal abstinence programs has been effective at changing teen's behaviors.

Here are a few quotes:

"In sum, studies of abstinence programs have not produced sufficient evidence to justify their widespread dissemination. … Only when strong evidence demonstrates that particular programs are effective should they be disseminated more widely."1(p. 15)

"At present, there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence, or reduces the number of sexual partners. In addition, there is strong evidence from multiple randomized trials demonstrating that some abstinence programs chosen for evaluation because they were believed to be promising actually had no impact on teen sexual behavior. That is, they did not delay the initiation of sex, increase the return to abstinence or decrease the number of sexual partners."1(p. 15)

In contrast, a substantial majority of the comprehensive sex education programs reviewed—which receive no comparable federal funding—are effective. The positive outcomes included delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use. "

All this from an organization that has been unwilling up until now to oppose the federal abstinence only program.

The important question though is will Congress listen to the research and stop funding these programs? The answer should be an obvious "yes".

Unfortunately, all indications are that not only will they reauthorize and refund, their going to vote more money. And it's our young people that will suffer as a result.

1 comment:

Bill W said...

Rev D. Haffner,

I'm curious as to whether this H.R.3043 - Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008, which has now passed the House and has been reconciled with the Senate version and been sent to Bush, is the same bill you are referring to in this post and if so did the Senate agree to the House's $141 mil funding for Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) programs?

Here is the full finished product as sent to the President to be signed.

I write posts on several popular blogs, most notably C&L, and am trying to figure out if the time to ask readers to try and fight this has passed already. I found several mentions of this bill passing out of committee in the House, like your post here and at Huffington Post, but none of them reference a specific a bill #. That's a big problem. If we ask readers to write Congress and don't give them a bill# more than half the time they don't know what we're talking about, even if we're talking about an agency appropriations bill. I'm just sayin'.