Friday, April 13, 2007

Another success story in keeping us safe

This can be filed under the heading of "things we knew already but are still nice to have confirmed again."
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.
In other words, the abstinence-only programs, the kind being pushed by the White House to the exclusion of others and to the tune of $200 million a year, didn't, if you will, accomplish a fucking thing about fucking. Doing nothing at all was equally effective.

Hilariously, the Shrub team is arguing that the study should be largely dismissed because the programs examined were some of the first established after "the end of welfare as we knew it" in 1996. Of course, that also should mean they are among the longest-standing with the most data, but hey, why should that matter? It gets even better:
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.
So faced with data that says their program isn't working, the first thing - in fact, the only thing - they think of is to do more of it while pretending the study's results are invalid. I think we can all guess what they would be saying about the study (the full report of which, incidentally, can be found here in .pdf format) if it backed up their antisex fantasies.

Oh, and before anyone says the opposite, that those opposed to abstinence-only sex ed only like the study because it confirms their belief, I'll note that this is not the first time abstinence-only sex ed has been found to be an utter failure at reducing sexual activity or unwanted pregnancies. In fact, the international AIDS charity Avert makes reference to eight studies covering programs in the US, Europe, Asia, and Africa which show
that comprehensive sex education can reduce behaviours that put young people at risk of HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancy ... [but] does not lead to the earlier onset of sexual activity among young people and, in some cases, will even lead to it happening later.

In contrast there is no such robust evidence for the effectiveness of abstinence education....
(Scroll down to the section "But which method is best?")

It's nice when decency, understanding, and science are all on the same side - and makes it natural for the WHS* to be on the other.

Footnote: In mid-March, Ohio became the sixth state to reject federally-funded abstinence-only programs this year. The others are California, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. In rejecting the money, a representative of Ohio Governor Ted Strickland said that the state matching requirement "is an unwise use of tax dollars because there is no conclusive evidence that suggests the program works."

*WHS = White House Sociopaths

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