Preaching Sexual Abstinence Is Ineffective

According to a congressionally-mandated study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., preaching sexual abstinence -- or more popularly, "just say no" -- to this nation's youth has been absolutely ineffective. Big surprise, no? Apparently, participation in abstinence programs had no effect upon the average age when a child first had sex (14 years and nine months) nor upon the total number of sexual partners they had. The federal government currently wastes, er, spends about $176 million annually on its puritanically-motivated abstinence-until-marriage program.

"I really do think it's a two-part story. First, there is no evidence that the programs increased the rate of sexual abstinence," said Chris Trenholm, a senior researcher at Mathematica who oversaw the study. "However, the second part of the story that I think is equally important is that we find no evidence that the programs increased the rate of unprotected sex."

Why don't we instead devote this amount of money to teaching sex education, especially teaching kids about safe sex?? Oh, wait, that involves "teaching kids about sex" -- as if they won't have sex in the absence of such instruction, right?

Cited story.



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Shoulda been the 2004 campaign slogan. "Vote Bush-Cheney in '04! They're expensive, but totally ineffective!"

By Scott Simmons (not verified) on 13 Apr 2007 #permalink

That's right -- they can't get horny teenagers to stop scrumping even when they tell them scary lies, which is often.

I'm sure these shameless assholes, allegedly acting on behalf of THE LORD, have all sorts of plausible excuses for taking government dough to tell kids that half of gay male teens are HIV positive.

Abstinence-only programs make me so angry. I think parents in these districts should start raising hell and complain to the principal that their children aren't being taught adequately.

Remember a few years ago when they wanted to expand this initiative to unmarried adults? That went nowhere fast!

"However, the second part of the story that I think is equally important is that we find no evidence that the programs increased the rate of unprotected sex."

Did he really say that? Wow.

I think the FDA should start using that logic. "Cancer drug X has absolutely no effect on cancer cells. But it should be emphasised that there's no evidence it makes cancer worse. So we recommend it's use."

I believe in waiting until marriage. I'm actually doing so. And yet I support sex ed programs that teach methods of birth control and protection from STD's because the evidence is that I am part of a very small minority that actually don't have sex as a teenager.

And that reason I didn't have sex as a teenager, in my case, probably had more to do with denial of my sexual orientation than being able to live up to my beliefs as to what I should do. It wasn't the abstinence only programs that worked but homophobia and denial - not a solution that I'd suggest.

Well, this just proves that the far right is right about the breakdown of the American family. What happened to the good, old days when teenagers heard all those scary lies from their own, dear parents?

By hoary puccoon (not verified) on 14 Apr 2007 #permalink

Agreed, this is about the breakdown of the family. It is not the government's place to teach is the family's place (this is a bit simplistic, but that is the basics). American society does not encourage the family (and when it does seem to, it is all about tax breaks for multiple children or paying for disabled relatives' care - not about encouraging families...there is a big difference), despite its noises to the contrary.

Typically, two people must work very hard, long hours, even at "well paying jobs" and endure often lengthy (in time or space) commutes to live very modestly just for the two of them...what time for them, much less for RAISING children (having and raising...also two different things).

Yes, "sex education" has its place in the education system, and sex should be taught by parents and by professional educators trained to do so (when I was a child, it was the school nurse and doctors and nurses who came in from the medical community to help teach it). But the underlying structure of behavior and decision making that places sexual and any other social behavior in context - that comes (or should be able to come) from the family.

Mom and Dad (or only one parent) are too busy making money trying to get by. Grandma, uncles and aunts live across the country. When mom and dad come home (hours after school is over and the kids have been home left to their own devices for hours) they have had a very crappy day, commuted an hour in mind bending traffic and are tired and frustrated. Eat fast food...have a drink to wind down...pray you can sleep. Frack, gotta call the plumber tomorrow and take a day off work (pressure from boss) waiting for a plumber that does not come...12 different calling plans for the cel phone-which one rips me off less...who will I vote for that will end this global warming...who ARE those candidates with names I have never heard of - or never heard good things about and which ones will lie to me or rip me off less? And Oh my god how will I deal with my curious adolescent children who never listen to me because I am not home or too tired to teach them how to be people instead of (literally) animals ....I wish I could quit my job and do all the things I know I should be doing to raise my family...the things maybe my own parents could do but somehow, I just can't get out from under to do .... fix a decent dinner, supervise homework, know who their friends (and boy/girlfriends) are, be here to answer questions about life and hold my daughter when she comes home crying because she has just learned the "cool boy" only wanted one thing...

"Spend some money" enabling families to be there to shape the minds of children into responsible, self disciplined, vibrant young adults. That will take some perception and economic changes...but THAT will be money well spent....and cost effective, too.

OK...getting off my soapbox now.


By Chardyspal (not verified) on 15 Apr 2007 #permalink