(VIDEO): Why Was Abstinence-only Funding Restored?


Imagine a quarter of a billion dollars, approved by Democrats for programs which the vast majority of them know don’t work. The money was attached to the healthcare bill to resurrect Title V money for abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. The question is, when no Republicans were involved in this effort, how could this have happened?

I have been reporting on federal funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs ever since I made a documentary for PBS in 2005 called Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque. One could argue that at that time, the jury was out concerning the success or failure of these programs. Even so, during good economic times, it didn’t make sense to me to fund programs which were questionable, limited in scope and had a clear ideological bent.

The nail came in the coffin in 2007 when Congress (reluctantly) released its own study proving that the programs do not work. I updated the film by including the results from the Mathematica Study and also by interviewing Dr. Douglas Kirby, senior researcher at ETR Associates, one of the most respected researchers in the country. His comments were unequivocal. Referring to the study as “rigorous” he told me that “typically when we do research, we find some small, positive effects. Here we found nothing. It was absolutely stunning.” He went on to add, “I am embarrassed not only as a researcher, but also as a parent that the government has wasted over a billion dollars on these programs.”

Yes, there was one recent study (Jemmott) which conservatives point to which says that some programs work, but as James Wagoner of Advocates for Youth says, “Jemmott’s program would not quality for Title V funding since it doesn’t follow the rigid, ideological eight point definition—a point made by the authors themselves.

While I’d like to just blame the Republicans, Democrats were also responsible for pouring money into these programs. Even if they didn’t believe in them, they were afraid to have their vote spun to portray themselves as being against abstinence from sex until marriage.

The pendulum was beginning to swing back to more fact-based sex education. Abstinence only proponents were now saying that they were “abstinence-based” Some were teaching about dangerous STI’s.

To his great credit, Obama put no money into his budget for such programs. Congress sunset Title V last June. Then Senator Orin Hatch attached $50 million a year for five years to healthcare, but when Obama made his push along party lines to vote for health care, advocates could breathe a sigh of relief.

Except that when the smoke cleared and the bill was passed, off in the sidelines stood a quarter of billion for abstinence-from-sex-until-marriage programs. Advocates were caught off guard, and no one had an answer as to how this had happened. So Hunter Stuart of STV Productions went to Capitol Hill and filed a video report which points to a sweetner deal for conservative democrats, apparently as one more way to insure passage of the bill.

Air is pumped back into the spurious argument that abstinence only programs do work. Money is flowing to programs which give either blatantly false or at best misleading information about reproductive health.

I never thought I would have anything in common with the Tea Party, but when 73 percent of them say that the federal government doesn’t work; I have to agree with them that Congress is corrupt (Democrats included) when it sacrifices the reproductive health of our teenagers.

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  • cmarie

    Charlie, I’m guessing you are perhaps just a tad past the highschool stage yourself.  Are the parents of school age children in your neighborhood aware of how much interest you have in preventing abstinence education for their kids?  Are the ones who oppose abstinence only education themselves aware of your overall interest in the sexual activity of their kids?  Assuming their are no legal restrictions on your ability to approach schools or playgrounds you might want to identify yourself and your interest in this subject to the school board.  I think they (along with the parents, teachers and no doubt the kids themselves) would be VERY interested to know all about it.

  • elyzabeth

    Are the ones who oppose abstinence only education themselves aware of your overall interest in the sexual activity of their kids?  Assuming their are no legal restrictions on your ability to approach schools or playgrounds you might want to identify yourself and your interest in this subject to the school board.

     

    Ignoring the fact that ab-only education has been empirically proven to not reduce sexual activity in teens, so really you, cmarie, are the one advocating for increased sex (and pregnancy and STIs) among your neighbor’s nubile little youngsters….

     

    How do you possibly come up with the idea that anyone who wants to provide teens with access to factual information that will be vital for the rest of their lives is only interested in doing so because it gets their jollies up?   And those people have influence in the highest levels of government?

     

    That’s one secret conspiracy your foil hat can’t protect you from.

  • cmarie

    or you can do better than that!

     

  • mechashiva

    I doubt anyone will bother dignifying your ridculous accusation with a response. Feel free to hold your breath, though.

  • cmarie

    actually I was Mecha until you umm… dignifyed my ridculous (sic) accusation.. so thanks for that.  I know how concerned rhrealitycheck always is about balance so here are a few other articles on the subject:

    http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/2008/06/the-war-on-abstinence

    http://www.mercatornet.com/family_edge/view/6520/

    http://www.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/mar/19/speakout-abstinence-education-has-been-effective/

     

     

     

  • harry834

    may be worth checking out, you ought to explain this comment:

    “Are the ones who oppose abstinence only education themselves aware of your overall interest in the sexual activity of their kids?  Assuming their are no legal restrictions on your ability to approach schools or playgrounds you might want to identify yourself and your interest in this subject to the school board.”

  • elyzabeth

    Translation: “Only a pedophile could possibly be interested in educating teens in how to make responsible reproductive health choices.”

     

    The meaning is obvious, but it doesn’t make any goddamn sense.

  • elyzabeth

    The first article is a heteronormative antiscientific piece published by a self-described religious think tank

    “whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.” 

     

    It lost me on the sentence about staying abstinent so you can “make a complete gift of self to another in marriage.”  They also quoted several studies published by the Heritage Foundation as sources.

     

    The second piece quotes one study out of dozens where ab-only education proved effective.  Additionally, the sample was especially high risk and un-representative of the normal population (ie 1/3 vs 1/2 of 10-15 yr-olds had sex in a two-yr period).

     

    The third article was quibbling over the CDC statistical methods–I’ll have to look into it further when I have more time.

  • prochoiceferret

    The first article is a heteronormative antiscientific piece published by a self-described religious think tank “whose purpose is to advance a religiously informed public philosophy for the ordering of society.”

    I also like how they framed it as though comprehensive sex ed and its advocates were opposed to abstinence, rather than abstinence-only teaching.

     

    Painting comprehensive sex ed advocates as pedophiles is a new one, however. I guess that’s the best argument they have left to make.

  • crowepps

    It gives me kind of a queasy feeling as far as the motiviation behind THEIR interest in kids NOT having sex, however — people tending to project what they themselves are thinking.

     

    Is their insistence on ‘abstinence only’ based in ‘declare yourselves off limits so I will know I can’t act on all these lascivious daydreams about 13-year old girls’?

  • crowepps

     1/3 vs 1/2 of 10-15 yr-olds had sex in a two-yr period

    If I understand this correctly, this abstinence-only ‘wait awhile’ program changed things from 50 out of a 100 10-15 year old girls self-reporting that they had decided to have sex in the next two years to ‘only’ 33 out of a hundred 10-15 year old girls self-reporting that they had deciding to have sex in the next two years.

     

    Spending thousands and thousands of dollars to persuade 17 out of a hundred girls to delay sex (or, ‘knowing the right answer’, being ashamed to report and lying that they delayed sex even though they did not) does not seem cost-effective to me.

     

    Also, since the goal of a COMPREHENSIVE sex education program is not just to ‘delay the beginning of sex’ but also to advocate for safer sex, in order to be a valid scientific comparison, it would be necessary to also statistically track not just how many of the 100 girls had sex, but also how many of those who did NOT delay sex used birth control, how many became pregnant and how many of them contracted an STD.

     

    If 50 out of a 100 girls receiving comprehensive decide to have sex, 48 use birth control and have 5 STD diagnoses and 2 pregnancies among them, and 33 out of a 100 receiving abstinence-only decide to have sex, none use birth control and there are 20 STD diagnoses and 15 pregnancies, those results should be factored in when defining and comparing ‘effectiveness’.

  • cmarie

    Actually Harry its a question:

    “Are the ones who oppose abstinence only education themselves aware of your overall interest in the sexual activity of their kids”?

    In other words Harry, regardless of a parents politics they will want to know why this adult is in such a hurry to shut up anyone who encourages young people to delay sexual activity until they have at least the maturity of an eighteen year old.

    and a sentence: “Assuming their are no legal restrictions on your ability to approach schools or playgrounds you might want to identify yourself and your interest in this subject to the school board.”

    This is the kind of thing cops, teachers, principals, school boards, employers and kids would all want to know about.  I don’t know what state you are in so I can’t provide a direct link but here is the national sex offender registry.  http://www.nsopw.gov   Here you will find ample evidence that the younger a person is when he/she becomes sexually active, the more likely he or she is to become a victim.  Here are some of those stats:  *33% of sexual assaults occur when the victim is between the ages of 12 and 17. *Teens 16 to 19 years of age were 3 1/2 times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape or sexual assault. * 54% of female victims and 71% of male victims were first raped before their 18 th birthday.   The point being, kids are more likely to be targeted than adults so yeah they should be reminded that its OK to say no altogether.  It’s not the only option of course but its a very valid one.  There’s something scary about a movement that is so threatened by kids who know its OK not to be sexually active. 

  • crowepps

    In other words Harry, regardless of a parents politics they will want to know why this adult is in such a hurry to shut up anyone who encourages young people to delay sexual activity until they have at least the maturity of an eighteen year old.

    Personally, as a parent I would be a lot more upset by people using ‘abstinence education’ as a mask from behind which they attempt to convert my kids to their own brand of Evangelical religion.  No one has any business telling my daughter that sex makes her ‘dirty’ or telling my son that it’s up to the girl to stop him, or telling either of my kids that ‘sex is immoral outside of marriage’ because ‘Jesus wants you to wait’.  My children were in the public schools to get an education and I would have been furious if they were required to sit and listen to missionaries obsessed with their genitals.

  • jayn

    Who here is saying kids shouldn’t delay becoming sexually active?  It is entirely possible to teach kids a comprehensive sex ed program, AND encourage them to delay sexual activity.  I know that’s what I got from my experience.  But what I got wasn’t about what I should do–it was about making your OWN choices, for your own sake.  Not ‘this is what good boys and girls do’.

     

    Believe me, a comprehensive program will tell kids it’s okay to say ‘no’.  It just also says it’s okay to say yes.

  • elyzabeth

    I think that ab-only education did in fact work in this specific context.

     

    It was a good program for the environment.  It was a group of very high-risk inner city boys and girls who probably weren’t getting told anywhere else that it is, in fact, okay to say no to sex or that they don’t have to prove how manly they are by having sex.  “Wait until you are older to start having sex” is an excellent message to give ten year-olds.

     

    The program included only factual information, had no religious or moralistic basis, and included much discussion and role-playing to let the kids know that they had options and didn’t have to be pressured into anything they didn’t want to do.

     

    However, crowepps, you are right, and I would also like to know how many of them used BC and maturely negotiated their relationships when they did start having sex.

     

    Similarly, it is intellectually dishonest to look at this specific study and claim that it is definitive proof that ab-only is the best choice ever and will work everywhere forever and everything will be rainbows and ice cream if we just switch to ab-only education.

  • elyzabeth

    In other words Harry, regardless of a parents politics they will want to know why this adult is in such a hurry to shut up anyone who encourages young people to delay sexual activity until they have at least the maturity of an eighteen year old.

     

    And on the eve of their eighteenth birthday, the magical maturity fairy flies in through their window and patiently explains different methods of birth control available to them, how to communicate in a sexual relationship to ensure both partners are treated fairly, the dangers of different STIs, and all the other information they will need to have a healthy sex life as an adult.

     

    Therefore, providing any sort of education on these topics to kids before their 18th birthday would be silly and redundant.

     

  • crowepps

    Actually one of the parts of the study I found the most interesting was that focusing on reality and deleting the ‘morality’ resulted in the kids being more likely to listen. From my own recollection of being a teenager, I clearly remember that as soon as people started with the ‘you don’t want to be BAD person, do you’ my ears shut down.

  • cmarie

    Well, no Elyzabeth most of us are not familiar with the magical maturity fairy but then neither are we familiar with the magical safe driver fairy who shows up on the eve of your 16th birthday or the magical safe drinker fairy who shows up on the eve of your 21st.  There is no guarentee that turning 16 or 18 or 21 makes you mature enough to drive, have sex or drink but lets just say it doesn’t hurt.  16 year old drivers can be very irresponsible but I’m going to go way out on a limb and guess that turning 16 is a better indicator of responsible driving than the ability to get into a car by oneself.  There is nothing to prevent a much younger kid from taking the keys and trying to drive down the street but in light of the fact that public saftey would be at risk we place restrictions on these kids and make them wait until 16 at least to drive legally. (curosity be damned) But, generally speaking, when a child becomes sexually active, its not the general public that faces the danger, its the kid.  He/she faces those dangers alone and that’s why so many of the general public couldn’t care less.  You don’t have to believe in faries to recognise that a little maturity doesn’t hurt when taking on adult responsibilities.  Me thinks perhaps if all your enlightened pals here started talking about removing age restrictions for driving, drinking, voting, getting married, serving in the military, running for office or quitting school you MIGHT be willing to listen to the other side.

  • prochoiceferret

    Who here is saying kids shouldn’t delay becoming sexually active?

    Technically, Heather Corinna ^_^

     

    But that’s only because she’s ahead of the curve. Once you’re done trying to convince willfully-ignorant folks like cmarie about whether or not to teach kids the fundamentals of human sexuality at all, you can focus on teaching kids actual negotiating skills and bright lines that will keep them bodily, mentally and healthily safe whenever they do end up engaging in sex, rather than simply admonishing them to put it off as long as possible in the hopes that they’ll be able to wing it once they do.

  • cmarie

    Crowepps,  if someone is trying to convert your children or tell them they’re dirty or talking about Jesus or making them listen to missionaries ANYWHERE (much less a public school) then I hope you don’t need me to tell you to get off the computer and call a lawyer and the other parents, the press and the police in that order.  Good luck….guess I’ll see you tomorrow on CNN. 

  • crowepps

    My kids are almost 40 and almost 30, but when they WERE in school they got the same sensible comprehensive sex education that I got myself when I was in high school back in the ’60s.  Our local school district is small enough that there wasn’t a lot of money available for people who figured out how to make a buck by pretending they were providing ‘education’ while refusing to provide any, and using their access to the school to troll for converts.

     

    Neither one of them ever had a sports coach who insisted in leading the students in prayers at practice either.  We did have one wacky science teacher here who insisted on wasting the kids’ time talking about ‘creationism’ or ‘intelligent design’ or whatever they’re calling it now, but neither of my children got him, luckily.  I did have to go to one school board meeting and speak up on behalf of my son, because some lady was freaking out about how their playing Dungeons and Dragons was ‘Satanic’ and wanted the school board to ban ‘witchcraft clubs’.

     

    Mostly our school here do a pretty good job of leaving religion up to the parents.  Of course, both my kids got out of school before the rightwing decided to ‘change government from the bottom up’ by running for school board and local service area board seats, and trying to slip their agenda past while people weren’t paying attention.

     

    I’ll have keep an eye out for what the grandchildren are being taught.

  • ack

    You’re still not understanding that nothing in comprehensive sex ed pushes teens to have sex. They just offer them the information they need to protect themselves when they do decide to have it. Before a 16 year old can drive, they have to take driver’s ed to protect the public and themselves. That’s pretty much what comprehensive sex does. Not to mention that it’s also a lot easier to keep underage kids from driving, voting, serving in the military, etc, than it is to keep them from having sex. 

  • ack

    A. None of your statistics indicate a connection between early consensual sexual activity and sexual assault.

    B. The majority of women who are raped know the person who raped them, and it is often an intimate partner or family member. Abstinence only education does not prevent perpetration or victimization. It leaves young people with no tools to navigate sexual relationships.

    C. Comprehensive, medically accurate, age appropriate sex ed can help prevent perpetration by discussing developing boundaries and respecting the boundaries of others. “It’s dirty down there, don’t touch it, save it for marriage,” is not the way to help young people figure this out.

  • wendy-banks

    In other words the studies cmaire cites are at very best ‘psuedoscience’ and at the very worst more of the same bombatic mental diarrhea from the Ultra-right. Plainly put, lies and bullshit, same as always.

  • harry834

    everyone, including cmarie, for responding to my question. These answers have been most informative.

  • wendy-banks

    It is entirely possible to teach kids a comprehensive sex ed program, AND encourage them to delay sexual activity.

    That’s exactly what my daughter’s school teaches– She’s a little young right at the moment for their classes. She goes to Montessori, they start at Jr. High level for sex ed. I’ve allready started to teach her about it at age apropreate level. I’ve had to get over alot of my hangups and do a lot of ‘er’, ‘um’, ‘ah’, ‘well’. But’s it’s worth it, I’d rather have her informed than clueless– And confident in her own worth as a female, rather than ashamed and fearfull of ‘sinning’. Of, course, I’d like her to wait awhile and not be forced before SHE’S truely ready.

  • wendy-banks

    magical maturity fairy flies

    *L* Too bad it didn’t work that way with me– My parents must have thought I’d pick it up through osmosis…

    As I was reading your post Alice Coopers’ ‘Eighteen (and I like it)’ song was running through my head.

    And of course, I had to go watch it…. http://www.youtube.com/watch#!v=ruoQEo3b97c

    A day without music is like a day without chocolate!

  • equalist

    Because I would be right at his side, demanding that the children be given the tools to protect themselves in the long run.  What part of the programs have been proven not to work do you not understand?  What would make you think that misdirection, omission of facts or out and out lies could protect our children better than a real education and the actual facts could?  Do you teach children math by telling them that 2+2=5, and they don’t need to know anything about long division until they reach college age?  Do you teach them literature by refusing to allow them anything more advanced to work with than Dick and Jane until they can figure it out for themselves?  Why is this form of non-education acceptable in fields that have an impact on our children’s health and lives?

  • cmarie

    Oh this is where my insomnia comes in handy

    1. Q: What part of “the programs have been proven not to work” do you not understand?   A:Well, understanding the sentence doesn’t mean the source is trustworthy.  Remember all that “The science is in on global warming” (nothing to see here folks, move right along………)  Saying something’s been proven doesn’t mean anything – demonstrating it’s been proven would mean everything.

    2. “What would make you think that misdirection, omission of facts or out and out lies could protect our children better than a real education and the actual facts could”?     (really?…really?) ok, I can’t sleep anyway… we’ll pretend that’s a serious question.   ummm… nothing   I’m not the one here opposing anything.  I am not advocating to keep anything in particular out of the classroom.  In regard to programs designed by for instance Planned Parenthood, I have said NOTHING.  In regard to allowing abstinence to be mentioned as an option, I have said: “I do not oppose this.”

    3. Q:Do you teach children math by telling them that 2+2=5, and they don’t need to know anything about long division until they reach college age?  Do you teach them literature by refusing to allow them anything more advanced to work with than Dick and Jane until they can figure it out for themselves?  Why is this form of non-education acceptable in fields that have an impact on our children’s health and lives   A: (wtf?) Again, I am not the one refusing anything.  I am the one who is arguing that you you can say “abstinence” in a classroom without the kids all falling to pieces.  I am telling you that they can handle it.  They can handle music, literature, multiple languages, advanced mathmatics, whatever job creation program contemporary sex ed programs involve and (despite the desperate hand wringing in evidence today) they can handle hearing from people who caution against early sexual activity.

    Its been fun playing with you today Equalist but I must be up early to catch the early news story on Crowtepps battle with her school’s genital obsessed missionaries.

  • equalist

    “Saying something’s been proven doesn’t mean anything – demonstrating it’s been proven would mean everything.”

    Is the rise in teen pregnancy and STDs since abstinance only was started, and the continuing rise in areas that practice abstinance only education vs areas that practice comprehensive education proof enough?

    ummm… nothing   I’m not the one here opposing anything.  I am not advocating to keep anything in particular out of the classroom.  In regard to programs designed by for instance Planned Parenthood, I have said NOTHING.  In regard to allowing abstinence to be mentioned as an option, I have said: ‘I do not oppose this.’”

    I’m sorry, but I just don’t see where this answers that particular question, aside from following the same tactics as ab only education does.  Denying you’re advocating to keep anything out of the classroom, and then defending a particular form of miseducation that leaves out facts, uses outdated studies, and just plain lies is leaving a whole lot out of the classroom.  Ab only leaves out a lot of information on birth control, or gives misinformation about the little bit that it covers (condoms don’t work or have holes in them to allow sperm and disease through, etc).  The primary teaching of ab only education is “don’t do it”, and the assumption that the kids will listen causes people to feel safe leaving out the rest of the information, or else if the kid picks up an std or something because they didn’t listen it’s the own fault, right?

    “Again, I am not the one refusing anything.  I am the one who is arguing that you you can say “abstinence” in a classroom without the kids all falling to pieces.  I am telling you that they can handle it. “

    The thing I don’t think you’re seeing here is that people aren’t saying not to teach the kids about abstinance.  I agree, the kids can handle it, and they’re not going to fall to pieces, but pushing the ideas that abstinance is the only option is not the way to go.  Abstinance is included in a comprehensive sex ed course.  But so are condoms, birth control, accurate information about stds, etc.  The kids get to learn about it all and make their own decisiions, rather than learning bits and pieces of inaccurate information and then being left to their own devices.

    All in all through all of this you’re using the usual ab only methods.  Misdirection, inaccurate statements, and denial. 

  • elyzabeth

    cmarie–you seem to be under the impression that comprehenive tells kids not to be abstinent.  It doesn’t–at least the course I had in high school didn’t.  Abstinence was presented as a valid method of birth control just like all the other methods, and should be equally respected.

     

    We discussed scenarios were abstinence would be preferable–such as if you were unable to obtain reliable birth control, you and your partner weren’t mature to communicate well enough to handle all the complications that sex can add to a relationship, you didn’t trust your partner, if you were only using sex as a substitute for balanced, healthy relationships, or because you felt like you deserved to be “used” and sex was a symptom of bigger emotional problems.  Comprehensive sex-ed teaches that abstinence is most definitely preferable to unhealthy sex.

     

    The class also emphasized waiting until you are ready, included strategies for refusing unwanted sexual advances, resources for reporting sexual harassment or peer pressure, and discussed the importance of respecting other people’s choices and beliefs in regards to their own sexuality.

     

    However, we learned on “abstinence until you are ready to have healthy sex,” not “abstinence until marriage so you can make a gift of yourself to your partner.”  We also talked about how virginity or sexual history should play no role in whether or not you should refrain from sexual activity–if the sex you are having is bad for your well-being, temporary celebacy can help you analyze the direction your life and relationships are going.

     

    We also learned that penis-in-vagina sex is not the only “real sex.”  As in, calling yourself “abstinent” while your girlfriend blows you isn’t actually a thing.

     

    Ab-only education doesn’t provide this richness of information and respect for people’s ability to make their own choices.

     

     

  • elyzabeth

    Of course, we also had those pro-abstinence ladies come in for two days a year with the normal drivel about how sex will be better if we delay until marriage. 

     

    To demonstrate this point, they gave some kids candy bars, and told them that if they brought them back the next day, they would get another candy bar.  That is in fact what happened, irrecovably demonstrating that delaying gratification is the superior course of action in every situation imaginable.  

     

    They also had the lovely activity where half the students had to take a sheet of paper and go around the class and collect 5 signatures from their peers.  Afterwards, the ladies announced that 3 specific students had STIs (signature transmitted infections, har har) and so anyone with their names on their paper also had them.  The other half of the students, who had abstained from collecting signatures, didn’t face the risk of getting STIs.  This was junior year of high school–not 6th grade in case you were wondering.

     

    They also had the lollipop demonstration and the tape demonstration, for those of you familiar with ab-only education.  It was like an annual fun-fair, only instead of fun, we had stupid.  It’s also worth mentioning that one of the ladies presenting the ab-only orgy of inane hoopla wrote a letter to the editor of the town newspaper when our high school theater club was performing “RENT” because she didn’t think it was appropriate to expose kids to gays and lesbians.

     

    Also, every year starting in first grade, a speaker would come from a local battered woman’s shelter for a few days and give an age-appropriate talk on relationships, respect, family health, sexual assault or harassment, and domestic abuse and resources available to people facing those situations.  In middle school and high school, a lady would also come in and talk about eating disorders and the relationship between self-esteem and making healthy choices, including sexual choices. 

     

    Sex is involved in every area of health and well-being (physical, emotional, social) and by limiting information available to students, you are preventing them from being able to make informed decisions later in life. 

     

    Even if students choice to refrain from all sexual activity until marriage, they will still implement knowledge gained in sex-ed.  If they were not presented with information about sex in high school, chances are they will have no source of information besides what their friends tell them or what they read on the internet.

     

     

  • julia-fedor

    Thank you, Charlie and Hunter, for this enlightening video. It’s a shame the Democrats chose to jeopardize the health of our youth in the name of political pandering. Let’s hope the states will reject this funding, sending a clear message to Congress that the abstinence-only-until-marriage experiment has failed.

  • crowepps

    1. Q: What part of “the programs have been proven not to work” do you not understand?   A:Well, understanding the sentence doesn’t mean the source is trustworthy.  Remember all that “The science is in on global warming” (nothing to see here folks, move right along………)  Saying something’s been proven doesn’t mean anything – demonstrating it’s been proven would mean everything.

    You mean like this?  Seems like a pretty clear demonstration to me!

    Teen pregnancy rate drops in Springfield, while Holyoke ranks first in the state

    April 04, 2010, 6:35PM

    The number of births to teenage mothers in Springfield plummeted in 2008, showing that programs to prevent teenage pregnancy may be starting to work in the city.

    An annual report by the state Department of Public Health, released last week, painted a different picture for Holyoke, which has a teen birth rate more than five times the state average. The report ranked Holyoke No. 1 in the state for teen birth rates in 2008, marking the fourth consecutive year the city was at the top in the state for the social problem.

    For the past six years, the staff at the Dunbar Center has been working with people between the ages of 10 and 18, emphasizing safe sex practices and condom application. Dunbar has a program called “Making Proud Choices!,” financed by the state for the past three years, currently at $138,000.

    During the past three years, sessions have been held with 400 youths in Greater Springfield.

    Other organizations in the city also operate programs to prevent teenage pregnancy or help teen mothers with their children.

    In a separate effort to reduce teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, the Springfield School Committee approved a health curriculum for this year that includes instruction on contraceptives such as proper use of a condom.

    The Holyoke School Committee at 7 tonight is scheduled to vote on whether to put into effect a similar curriculum for the next academic year, said Holyoke Mayor Elaine A. Pluta.

    http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2010/04/teen_pregnancy_rate_drops_in_s.html

     

     

  • cmarie

    ok then the obvious question is “What exactly am I trying to keep out of the classroom”?

  • cmarie

    You didn’t finish reading my post

    “The point being, kids are more likely to be targeted than adults so yeah they should be reminded that its OK to say no altogether.”

  • jayn

    Yup, they should.  Ab-only isn’t the only way of doing that.

  • crowepps

    Since you’ve stated that you are a proponent of birth control being used to reduce unwanted pregnancy, just exactly what is it that you ARE trying to keep out of the classroom?

     

    Personally, I’m trying to keep something IN the classroom, comprehensive sex education that INCLUDES abstinence instead of ‘abstinence only’ education that EXCLUDES a lot of information on the basis that since teens should wait for marriage, they don’t need to know it.

     

    “Innocence based in ignorance is unfit to protect itself.” Lois McMaster Bujold

  • elyzabeth

    “they should be reminded that its OK to say no altogether.”

     

    But unfortunately, ab-only does not remind kids (and disproportionally girls) that they can say withdraw consent for sex after they’ve given it, or they can say no to some acts while saying yes to others, or that they can say yes conditionally (ie the condition being condom usage).  Ab-only doesn’t tell kids how to communicate with their sexual partners to ensure they getted treated respectfully.

  • ack

    You brought up sexual assault, so aren’t we inherently talking about “no”?

     

    I honestly don’t think that telling young people to “just say no” to sex is the answer to reducing sexual assault. Teaching people about communication, consent, and coercion is protective. In order to have honest conversations about unhealthy/abusive sexual behavior, we need talk about healthy/respectful sexual behavior as well. Most teen victims are assaulted by other teens, so universal early education on the above topics would probably decrease perpetration. They need to be taught how to say no, how to respect it when someone says no, and in contrast how to say yes. They need to have the opportunity to think about their boundaries, and those boundaries can’t be forced on them. It doesn’t work.

  • cmarie

    yeah but I don’t think its you she’s excited about, crowepps. She’s accused me of encouraging:

    misdirection

    omission of facts

    out and out lies

    because I don’t oppose allowing abstinence to be mentioned.  Remember, I’m not saying anything in particular needs to be taken out of the classroom.  The author is the one saying that.  So, like you, I’m anxious to hear how she justifies the accusations against me.

  • cmarie

    There doesn’t seem to be any mention of Abstinence programs in either Springfield (where birth rates have gone down) nor in Holyoke (where they’ve gone up).  This article and the original comment in question “the programs have been proven not to work” refer to Abstinence education programs.

  • equalist

    I don’t oppose abstinance to be mentioned either.  Abstinance, as we have said many times here is as large a part of comprehensive sex ed as condoms and the pill are.  The problem with abstinance only education is that kids are given misinformaiton about all other forms of birth control, and some information is left out completely.  That’s what ab only education is, and by encouraging it, you are encouraging important information to be left out of the classroom.  Human sexuality is a complicated, and important part of human development, and by leaving out important parts of it, we are doing our children a disservice.

  • crowepps

    What the author said instead, was that Abstinence ONLY programs, which do NOT include all the information available, are a waste of money and we shouldn’t pay for any more of them.  Instead, the money should be directed to COMPREHENSIVE programs which INCLUDE abstinence as one of the options and also give all the rest of the information which Abstinence only programs either leave out or distort and which have, as the article to which I linked, been proven to work.

     

    You’re going to have to decide whether the pleasure you’re getting out of playing gotcha is sufficient to continue this thread.  Personally, having read all your posts, I would say that the discussion is about “because I don’t oppose allowing abstinence to be mentioned” borders on a lie in itself.  Nobody here, including the author, has ever said that they don’t want abstinence to be mentioned, they have repeated that several times, and your insistence that that’s what the conversation is really about is just — dumb.

  • cmarie

    how about something like this:

    “OK abstinence people we’ve agreed to have you speak with our students as part of a larger sexual health curriculum.  Obviously you understand even presenting this part of the program is controversial and some of the students (including some enrolled in the overall sex ed program) may not have parental permission to attend your lectures.   Before you present anything to the students we will need to see a detailed outline on your presentations.  We’re concerned that if you cast doubt on the reliability of condoms for instance students who are sexually active may be less likely to use them.  Be assured that you are going to be held to a higher standard than other teachers in this subject.  If a student gets pregnant following one of their lectures it’s because they didn’t listen well enough (didn’t use contraception).  If they get pregnant following your lecture it will be assumed that they listened to well to the part about unreliable contraception and not well enough to the part about waiting until they get older.  Therefore, we have to have assurence that you won’t question the reliability of contraception at all.  Although it would be great for the kids to wait until they are older, we don’t want them getting the message that birth control is unreliable so if that’s part of the presentation it will have to  be removed altogether and of course teachers will be present at your lectures and they will be interrupted if you discuss birth control.  Just stick with the abstinence subject.  Be aware that the parents are going to want a detailed summary of your presentation and if too many of them opt out of the lecture then the lecture will be cancelled.  But, if you can conform to the requirements listed and if a fair number of parents agree to let their children listen to your lecture we will look forward to it.

  • crowepps

    Why, since the abstinence information is already included in the comprehensive program which is available to all the students, should the school PAY to bring in additional people to repeat exactly the same information?

     

    If the parents really, REALLY want their children to have ‘abstinence only’ education, why don’t they opt them out of comprehensive and have them attend instead the ‘abstinence only’ program presented OUTSIDE of school?  Where the instructors would be absolutely free to present exactly what they feel should be presented without having to do all that awkward backtracking and editing?

     

    See, the problem isn’t really that ‘people are preventing us from teaching abstinence-only’, because most churches would just love to have the opportunity to put on such a program for their youth group.  The problem instead is that the schools won’t agree that it’s appropriate to to impose AO on all students, and the schools won’t pay for it, and the schools don’t want to pay for it because why should they pay for something most parents don’t WANT.  The vast majority of actual PARENTS, 90% or more, want their children given full and complete comprehensive education.

     

    As a matter of fact, only 15% of Americans in general want students taught ‘abstinence-only’.  That, of course, isn’t good enough for the right-wing sexophobes, who are going to lay down on the floor screaming and kicking their feet because they want to continue getting big fat (socialist) government grants to pay them for preventing comprehensive and substituting their own programs that keep ALL students as ignorant as possible.

     

     http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1622610

  • cmarie

    They don’t want abstinence to be mentioned.  That’s why they call it “abstinence only” because they are pretending that if you allow the abstinence people to speak then you can’t allow anyone else to speak.  If I teach the Crimean war from the perspective of Russia, it doesn’t mean that I don’t think the British perspective should be explained as well; its just that I’ve chosen to focus on the Russian perspective.  It certainly doesn’t mean I’m trying to stop anyone from presenting the other side; in fact a good presentation from the other side is essential to a good understanding of the subject.  People who come in and talk about abstinence don’t somehow prevent schools from spending just as much time sponsering planned parenthood presentations.  Go to your local highschool and offer to present a program on N.A.S.A.  If they like your program they will be happy to let you make your presentation and no one will accuse you of opposing medical research because you failed to mention it.  Everyone will understand that YOUR focus is on the space program.  It is the school’s job to make sure students don’t somehow get the idea that science is limited to space exploration.  I’ve never heard of a lecturer on the subject of abstinence who somehow places restrictions on who else the school can have to address the sex ed program to these same students.  Unfortunately I cannot access Abstinence Comes To Alberquiqe on line so I don’t know if Stuart has sucessfully found such a person but I would guess that the vast majority of these speakers are happy just to be heard without placing any restrictions on who else can speak later in the semester.

  • mechashiva

    They don’t want abstinence to be mentioned.  That’s why they call it “abstinence only” because they are pretending that if you allow the abstinence people to speak then you can’t allow anyone else to speak.

     

    I normally keep it clean here, but WHAT THE FUCK are you talking about?! It’s called “abstinence only” because abstinence gets talked about, but nothing else. If a school embraces the policy of abstinence-only sex non-education, then that means they will get rid of everything else and teach abstinence exclusively. Why are you even arguing about this when you say you support comprehensive sex ed, which includes abstinence education?

     

    Why on Earth should the federal government be providing funding to a religously-based, ineffective, non-educational program? Why not fund comprehensive sex ed programs that include abstinence, are secular, and are effective?

     

    Oh right… I’m sure the government is just trying to protect kids from the anti-abstinence conspiracy that school officials, parents, medical professionals, and reproductive rights organizations are promoting in order to get them to have irresponsible sex, get pregnant, and make PP loads of abortion blood-money. How could I have been so blind?!

  • crowepps

    Abstinence is mentioned in ALL comprehensive programs.  Sex education could be taught entirely by school personnel.  I don’t see any reason to bring in outside speakers at all.

    Unfortunately I cannot access Abstinence Comes To Alberquiqe on line so I don’t know if Stuart has sucessfully found such a person

    I’m sorry, I have no clue what you’re referring to here.  What does “Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque” have to do with our discussion?

    Who is Stuart?

    Who is he trying to find?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

  • crowepps

    Maybe she misunderstood what Stuart told her?  Whoever he is.

  • elyzabeth

    Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque is a documentery about how ab-only education is an anti-scientific, shame-based disaster that lies to and harms people.

  • crowepps
    1. Has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological, and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
    2. Teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school age children;
    3. Teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and other associated health problems;
    4. Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
    5. Teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;
    6. Teaches that bearing children out-of-wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child’s parents, and society;
    7. Teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; and
    8. Teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
    9. http://std.about.com/od/syphilis/f/federalabstinenceregs.htm

      Personally, I think #1, #4, #5 and #6 are religious opinions not based in any sociological science and that teaching them as The Truth to public school children is inexcuseable.

  • crowepps

    Of course, now I’m REALLY confused, because I don’t see what THAT could possibly have to do with proving cmarie’s point.

  • equalist

    The facts are that all birth control has a chance of failing.  The difference is between the facts and the claims of ab only proponants.  For intance, condoms if used properly have a 99% success rate.  Ab only lessons generally claim a 70% rate, and have been known to claim that condoms have holes in them that allow sperm and viruses to pass through, rendering them useless.  Note the difference between this claim and the fact of the actual success rates.  This is the kind of misinformation we hear about when discussing ab only education.  It’s not that ab only points out the unreliability of birth control and other protective measure that one can take to prevent pregnancy and STIs, it’s that ab only exaggerates or out and out lies about the failure rate of these methods in order to discourage kids from using them in favor of abstinance, in which case, the kids who don’t practice abstinance, don’t use the meathods either, because the thought is that if it’s not going to work anyway, why bother?

  • equalist

    Not to mention that homosexual relationships are included nowhere in that kind of discussion, and with homosexual marriage not recognized in most states, that does leave a portion of the population completely out of the conversation. 

  • ack

    Abstinence-only education means they only talk about abstinence, and remain silent on consent and safer sex. If comprehensive programs invite presenters promoting abstinence, they are still not “abstinence-only.” 

     

    Comprehensive sexual education means that they talk about all or most forms of sexual health, which, as far as I know, always includes abstinence.

     

    I don’t know how many other ways we can say that.

  • ack

    “Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;”

     

    Considering that most people have sex before marriage, what defines their “expected standard?”


    “Teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;”

     

    Considering that this has been disproven by multiple individual and meta studies (just ask Heather Corrina), how is this based in fact?

     

    “Teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increases vulnerability to sexual advances; “

     

    Don’t drink! You might have sex you want! …. is a new one. They’re not even trying to frame this as sexual assault prevention.

  • cmarie

    Oh I can’t wait to see an example of that in a public schools somewhere.

  • cmarie

    I’m referring to the article you are commenting on now.  Charlie Stuart is the author.  “Abstinence Comes to Albuquerque” is the documentary he mentions making in this article.  He made it for PBS in 2005.

  • cmarie

    and if a student attends math class they will focus exclusivly on mathmatics to the exclusion of all other subjects but no one is pretending math teachers have an agenda against science and history.  You can be sure that parents will be given the opportunity to excuse their children from the occasional lecture that might be (gasp) offered at a public school.  And you can be sure that for every lecture on the benefits of abstinece during highschool there will be multiple lectures available to the same kids where the assumption is that abstinence is unrealistic.  Guest lectures offer their own programs.  They do not get to dictate who sponsers the program that follows theirs the next week.

  • jayn

    You’ll have a better analogy when school boards decide to only teach math and start removing science or history because they think kids don’t need those subjects.  One particular teacher can’t stop someone else from teaching comprehensive sex-ed, but if those in charge decide to only bring in people who teach abstinence-until-marriage, then the kids are still getting robbed of valuable information, just as if the school only employed math teachers and no history ones.

  • equalist

    You know, that would apply if we were complaining that sex ed classes leave out discussions on home economics, but our complaint is that abstinance only classes leave out a large part of human sexuality, which is what the class is about to begin with.  This in particular is more akin to complaining that a math class is leaving out addition and multiplication and focusing on long division.