Monday, February 28, 2005

The Other "A" word

Abstinence is the next A word in our public discourse, right after and closely related to abortion. we're talking of course about abstinence from SEX. in many parts of the country abstinence is the only method touted in sex education classes in schools as protection against sexually transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy. who could argue that preventing the transmission of stds and preventing unwanted pregnancies is bad? and who could disagree that abstinence is a sure-fire way to accomplish these ends?

so is the actual implementation of this idea having the intended effect? well no. it actually has the opposite effect.

from this article

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.

The study was delivered to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which commissioned it.

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 study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls, typically 13 to 14 years old, had sex before receiving abstinence education. After taking the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex.

Boys in the tenth grade, about 14 to 15 years old, showed a more marked increase, from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.


and here is a bit of commentary in more robust language from mark morford


Of course teens are having sex anyway, in straight-up defiance of what they sense is pure governmental ignorance and outright lie. But the nasty catch is, as a direct result of these insidious programs -- programs that cannot, for example, contain any information about birth control or sensual awareness or moist philosophies of pleasure -- they're just doing it badly.

Which is to say, you want to virtually guarantee more unsafe sex and increased rates of teen pregnancy and more disrespect for the flesh and a tragic ignorance of all things sensual and delicious and naked in the world? You want more sullen teens and violent youth culture and a virulent 50-percent divorce rate among people who have no idea what good sex is really all about? Keep advocating those abstinence programs, senator.


so let's keep on throwing money down that rathole. yeah. that's a good idea. but not so good for the reality-based community. or really, bad for all of us. where is that republican demand that government-funded programs must show positive results?