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Abstinence Classes a Bust

Posted on Apr 14, 2007

So much for just saying no as a sex education policy:  A large-scale congressional study of the effects of costly abstinence education programs in American schools concluded that one or two years of classroom indoctrination had no significant impact on if and when teens have sex.


Participants in special programmes were just as likely to have sex a few years later as those who did not attend.

In the past few years of Republican Party control of Congress, the spending on no-sex-before-marriage education has risen from $10 [million] to $176 [million] a year.

Critics have repeatedly said the programmes are not working.

They say the money would be better off spent on a comprehensive sex education that would include abstinence.

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By Dan Noel, April 17, 2007 at 1:52 pm Link to this comment
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If abstinence programs were just about objectively advising kids about the consequences of being sexually active without thinking! But all too often, like in my local public school district (Newport-Mesa Unified, California), they consist in scaring kids with mysterious calamities, including death, should they engage in masturbation, birth control, condoms, and therapeutic abortion. Imagine the religious right’s sex education curriculum, minus the mention of God and Satan; it could hardly get more idiotic!

My school district does absolutely nothing to make kids comfortable with their sexuality. In particular, kids hurl homosexual insults at each other starting in 1st grade, and the most sensible comment I am aware of was that it is just the way kids greet each other and nothing can be done about it.

Recently, my 11-year-old intervened in an AIDS prevention class that omitted sharing needles, but provided stern warnings against the use of condoms…I am slowly publicizing a chain of Emails I exchanged with the district on this subject.

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By TomChicago, April 16, 2007 at 4:32 am Link to this comment
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It should come as no surprise that the “just say no” campaign is a bust.  The egregious behavior of the icons of such campaigns, including the gay fundie preachers, just does not go unnoticed.  Sneaking and duplicity has long been a modus operandi among these folks.

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By Frank Dobyns, April 15, 2007 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Look and you don’t have to look very far to understand who was behind the legislation that porduced this public policy.  It came directly from the religious dogma of conservative,christian America.  Dogma always produces bad results because it is based on irrational data.

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By vet240, April 15, 2007 at 2:39 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The drive to reproduce transcends all intellect.

The churches of America while advocating celebecy before marriage and Feilty to those we marry, are lead by adulterors and sexual deviants. This fact isn’t limited to the Catholic church.

Sex in any form is natural. What we will have to do in the not too distant future is enforce programs to fight over-population through involuntary sterilization, hopefully done in a completely random manner.

The Global warming issue is one of too many humans on the planet.

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By Chris, April 15, 2007 at 2:35 pm Link to this comment
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One of the most concise, thoughtful and complete books on sex education was published some years ago. It was entitled “Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex”, written by Judith Levine. It dealt with the reality of young people and their sexuality, and how to fully and completely educate them as they grow up, in order for them to be responsible in their personal lives, and the choices they make.

It caused quite a stir at the time, as much of what she said flew in the face of very comfortable, conventional beliefs held by so many Americans, yet the workability of those concepts that so threaten Americans are widely accepted and practiced by many countries around the world. Why do European teenagers, for example, have such low unwanted teenage birthrates, compared to American teenagers?

Our young people need such valid information, such as Judith Levine describes in her book, and not the “just say no”, condoms don’t work, homosexuality is bad, no sex before marriage ideology of the far right. It looks like we have made a step in that direction. We need the wisdom of Judith Levine’s book to help further that direction.

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By RAE, April 15, 2007 at 11:46 am Link to this comment

Until society drops the notion that PARENTS have the absolute right to “decide” for their children, we will continue to enjoy such expensive and futile forays into nonsense policies as this one.

It takes absolutely NO BRAINS, COMPETENCE, EDUCATION or MORALS to become a PARENT, yet for some unfathomable reason, the parent’s “right” to pervert their child any way they wish is an unalienable right in this country.

In recent years, in some jurisdictions, it has become illegal to actually BEAT or STARVE the child, but I don’t know of any laws against feeding the most outrageous GARBAGE into his/her brain, including the religious crap issuing from the leading doctrines and dogmas.

The one problem that prevents me from suggesting a solution is the fact that PARENTS control almost all the policy setting bodies - the school boards, town councils, governments, even the politicians. With the foxes in charge of the hen houses we won’t soon see regulations against abuse of the chickens!

The only hope lies in the children learning that their PARENTS were “full of it” in certain areas and that it’s quite OK to abandon the BS taught to them when they encounter it later in life. Thankfully, many do. However, at least as many don’t. They survive to perpetuate the BS for the “benefit” of the next generation.

I have long advocated that parents should be licensed - they should be REQUIRED to take parenting courses (BASED IN PROVEN FACT not biased by unproveable beliefs and customs), and pass exams, which include a full education about human sexuality, infant and child development and psychology, and what constitutes ABUSE (for example, feeding to the child AS TRUTH the parents’ glib opinions and untested assumptions.)

Certainly parents have the right to explain their views on anything to the child - but they should NOT have the right to insist that the child adopt those views also.

It should be federal law, punishable by many years in jail, to LIE to a child - by commission or omission. For example, a child should have full access to ALL KNOWN INFORMATION regarding EVOLUTION and CREATION, sex and abortion, theism and atheism, and everything else. If the parent wants to announce a belief in one or the other, OR NEITHER, he/she should be free to do so. But IN NO WAY should the child be REQUIRED to believe as the parent does.

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By joneden, April 15, 2007 at 11:40 am Link to this comment
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When you consider that saving even a single child from fornication (or worse yet miscegenation) would make all the expenditures on prevention worth it, I think one would be hard pressed to say that this program has not been a success.

Once again, I think what we have here is the Darwin crowd trying to lay claim to what is and is not good with a bunch of confusing numbers.

Disregard those devil inspired numbers and Praise the Lord!

Connecting the dots: from human behaviors to ecosystem decline

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By dale Headley, April 15, 2007 at 11:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Shocked!  I am shocked and appalled to discover that teenagers would keep having sex when their teachers told them not to.  That’s all right, though.  We didn’t tell them about condoms and such, so they’ll pay for their tansgression.  When they contract STD’s and get pregnant, they’ll be sorry they didn’t listen.  God will punish them for being horny.

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By FOW, April 15, 2007 at 10:29 am Link to this comment
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There’s a mistake in the lead of this story:  This wasn’t a congressional study.  It was done by Mathematica, a highly regarded independent think tank.  The Congress ordered the study be done (and the Bush Administration has been refusing to release it for a long time).

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By Dr. Knowitall, PhD, PhD, April 15, 2007 at 9:46 am Link to this comment

If you want kids to stop having sex too early in their lives then stop telling them to have it through the media.  It’s not rocket science.  Sex, Sex, Sex.  Beer. Beer. Beer.  Boobs, Boobs, Boobs.  Skin, Skin, Skin.  Fun, Fun, Fun.  Tight, Tight, Tight.  Ogle, Ogle, Ogle.  Sell, Sell, Sell. And in the check-out line, “Send Him to Sex-Heaven Tonight!”
Countering all this with teaching them to be responsible or to just say “no” could tend to F* them up, which is probably what’s happening.

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By DennisD, April 15, 2007 at 9:23 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“Costly abstinence education programs” says it all, just whose deep pockets did the money find it’s way into anyway - truthdig into that one and you have a story. Congress - wake the f**k up we have real problems, I don’t care how many kids are getting laid.

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By MollyJ, April 15, 2007 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
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While this was a helpful study it does not reveal much impact over those programs that do offer contraceptive information.  ALso teens are pretty savvy and they can _get_ contraceptive information elsewhere.  However, as someone who has worked in Family Planning, I see the abstinence only education as yet another effort to control knowledge and access to contraceptive information.

There are some _real_ problems and issues with teens deciding to have sex.  For example, teens are over-represented in STD clinics for having STD’s and needing treatment.  But when teens only get abstinence only info, they don’t get STD info (except as a scare tactic).

As other posters have articulately stated, teens will find their way to having sex _particularly_ as long as the larger culture normalizes it.  (And it does.)

While I think it is beneficial for parents and communities to encourage abstinence (and model, if not abstinence, role appropriate sexual behaviors) there has to be that sense of realism that in spite of that message teens will sometimes decide to have sex.  In the study cited, age of onset of sexual activity was 14.9 years (no better no worse, I don’t think, than comprehensive sex ed). 

That’s still some pretty young children deciding to have sex.

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By Jim Yell, April 15, 2007 at 7:28 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

No big surprise here. While the churches would have us believe that sex is an opptional activity, it isn’t natural to control the urge. They are right in one sense, like elimination responsible discharge is necessary for group and social health. However, labeling sexual activity as some prize only for the married has never worked in the entire 1000’s of years of human existence.

Once again the fundamentlist churches have pushed thru a civil program that has wasted tax money on a silly program. If churches have any validity they should try to teach their members responsible behavior, as to the rest of us that is not their business.

In the past thanks to church teachings people lived in painful lies with abuse unreported, such as the historic sexual exploitation by priest and ministers. It didn’t start with sexually oriented tv, but the reporting of the behavior gave the appearance that it was a new social and religious problem. Wrong! It has always been with us, in the old days no one mentioned it and each untaught person walked into the situation blind to the possiblity. Church would like to go back to the world of “Mum”. My recomendation is to study various systems of behavior and try to find one that gives you self discipline, it doesn’t have to be defined by some one claiming to speak to God. In fact if God wanted you to know a specific wish of his, he would tell each person in turn and not thru people of so little merit as Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell and others who have so little merit.

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By Tom Doff, April 15, 2007 at 6:12 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Trying to stop young folks from having sex is like trying to stop the sun from rising and setting.

But if you want to try to stop young folks from having ‘harmful’ sex, the best way to do that might be to preach abstinence to the clergy, especially predatory priests.

That won’t work, either, but at least it’s an idea that is somewhat rational.

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By Jack Williams, April 14, 2007 at 2:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Ignorants never cease to amaze me. The strongest natural force on earth is reproduction, wake up you educated idiots,

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By Joe R., April 14, 2007 at 1:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I glad to see the kids having sex.  Enjoy your lives kids, and don’t let those dried up farts keep you down!

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By Rob, April 14, 2007 at 11:50 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Haha, I knew it would go down in flames. Chalk up another loss for the neo conservative Jesus freaks who treat sex as a disease.

The trick is to teach kids about having sex RESPONSIBLY

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