Friday, April 13, 2007

Shocking News: Abstinence-Only Sex Ed Has No Effect

Via Oliver Willis, a new study:
WASHINGTON - Students who took part in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex as those who did not, according to a study ordered by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes that were reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes. And they first had sex at about the same age as other students — 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don't believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement.

However, Bush administration officials cautioned against drawing sweeping conclusions from the study. They said the four programs reviewed — among several hundred across the nation — were some of the very first established after Congress overhauled the nation's welfare laws in 1996.

Officials said one lesson they learned from the study is that the abstinence message should be reinforced in subsequent years to truly affect behavior.

"This report confirms that these interventions are not like vaccines. You can't expect one dose in middle school, or a small dose, to be protective all throughout the youth's high school career," said Harry Wilson, the commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families.

Doesn't that just sum up the Bush administration? "What we're doing isn't working? Let's do more of it!"

There was some good news, though:
"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."

Trenholm said his second point of emphasis was important because some critics of abstinence programs have contended that they lead to less frequent use of condoms.

Maybe sex ed isn't really that important. I mean, what is there to teach, from a health standpoint, besides, "Use a freaking condom!"

I still think purity balls are the creepiest thing ever.


Anonymous said...

Preaching abstinence is also not like a vaccine in that vaccines are actually effective tools for disease prevention.

beepbeepitsme said...

My thoughts on abstinence only sex education is that when someone gives in to their sexual desires, (and inevitably many people do), they are less prepared to deal with the situation. That is, they are more likely to not use birth control or to use safe sex proceedures.

skcorefil said...

I remember having a hard time remembering the order of the 14 steps for putting on a condom in sex ed. I think it would have been easier to remember if they had had a live demonstration video.

So it is more complicated than "use a freaking condom"

Ezzie said...

Doesn't that just sum up the Bush administration? "What we're doing isn't working? Let's do more of it!"

Cute but terrible argument. Sometimes, it truly is because we're not doing enough of it.

Jewish Atheist said...

Cute but terrible argument. Sometimes, it truly is because we're not doing enough of it.

Of course. But with the Bush admin, it's a pattern, esp. with Iraq.

Jewish Atheist said...


14 steps?? That sounds like awful instruction. They didn't have any bananas around?

intuitor said...

I would benefit more from sex ed if they taught us how to get girls. Condoms are intuitive...

jewish philosopher said...

Why can't people just marry at 14? Problem solved.

Jack's Shack said...

Purity balls are creepy.

Caleb said...

@jewish philosopher, yeah, that'd work. It worked for my grandmother, and she had eight kids. All is well, although two of her children are not self-suficient.

@intuitor Right on! Have 'em teach ya to score!

I once read something by Rabbi Sherwin Wine, the creator of Humanistic Judaism. He said that the restrictions placed upon sex -- refraining from sex during menstration plus a week, for example -- is beneficial in marriage, strengthening the eroticism between the two lovers.

Because of this, I think abstinence should be practised in marriage, and not outside of it. Hehe. Within moderation, of course.