The Abstinence-Only Delusion | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Abstinence-Only Delusion

The New York Times is calling for Congress to either drop ill-fated abstinence-only education funding, or expand it to include safe-sex messages, which studies are showing do actually help lower teen pregnancy:

A Congressionally mandated report issued this month by the Mathematica Policy Research firm found that elementary and middle school students in four communities who received abstinence instruction — sometimes on a daily basis — were just as likely to have sex in the following years as students who did not get such instruction. Those who became sexually active — about half of each group — started at the same age (14.9 years on average) and had the same number of sexual partners.

The chief caveat is that none of the four programs studied continued the abstinence instruction into high school, the most sexually active period for most teenagers, so it is not known whether more sustained abstinence education would show more effectiveness.

Supporters of abstinence-only education sometimes point to a sharp decline in teenage pregnancy rates in recent years as proof that the programs must be working. But a paper by researchers at Columbia University and the Guttmacher Institute, published in the January issue of The American Journal of Public Health, attributed 86 percent of the decline to greater and more effective use of contraceptives — and only 14 percent to teenagers' deciding to wait longer to start having sex. At the very least, that suggests that the current policy of emphasizing abstinence and minimizing contraceptive use should be turned around.

Previous Comments

ID
91974
Comment

Ladd, I wholeheartedly agree. That policy is just plain dumb. However, I draw the line at handing out "city sponsored" condoms (like New York City has done recently). What happens if one of those doesn't do what it's designed to do? Will the city be liable for it?!!? :D

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-29T12:47:55-06:00
ID
91975
Comment

Is this article saying sexual activity starts, on average, at the age of 14.9 years? My kids better not start that young...

Author
Lady Havoc
Date
2007-04-30T08:13:37-06:00
ID
91976
Comment

I wasn't that young!

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-30T08:27:51-06:00
ID
91977
Comment

Note that Mississippi continues to march bravely forward into error. On May 2, the Mississippi Department of Human Services is sponsoring its sixth annual "abstinence rally" at the state capitol. This is to kick off National Teen Pregnancy Prevention month. The rally's at 11 a.m. And get this regarding a meeting MDHS is sponsoring afterward, from their press release, emphasis mine: Concerned individuals interested in the high rate of teen out-of-wedlock pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, willing to support the message of abstinence until marriage, will not want to miss this conference. Abstinence education is ineffective, but here in Mississippi, we take it to a truly offensive level. It is one thing to tell minors that they should be abstinent. It's another to tell minors that they should remain abstinent until they are married, presumably well into adulthood! That is religious speech, plain and simple. It's also hypocrisy, consdering how few adults--even religious ones--are virgins when they marry.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2007-04-30T08:32:56-06:00
ID
91978
Comment

Um, so, like, I'm 30 and I've never been married. That's a LONG FREAKING WAIT.

Author
Lori G
Date
2007-04-30T08:57:47-06:00
ID
91979
Comment

Brian, I don't think I would classify it as religious speech per se, but definitely irresponsible speech. We all know that kids aren't going to wait. However, is abstinence the best policy? Probably not. Kids need to be advised of their options. Abstinence is one of their options. I wonder if parents actually sit down with their kids and talk to them about sex anymore, or drugs, or guns, or anything else... Or if they just let the schools/media teach them "what they need to know."

Author
LawClerk
Date
2007-04-30T09:06:23-06:00
ID
91980
Comment

Um, so, like, I'm 30 and I've never been married. That's a LONG FREAKING WAIT. And I'm two years older and NBM as well. Imagine what hell I'd be going through if I waited that long.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-04-30T12:18:39-06:00
ID
91981
Comment

Hmm, how do I say this? 32, NBM, haven't.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-30T12:28:12-06:00
ID
91982
Comment

Oh, crud. What did I just do?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2007-04-30T12:43:49-06:00
ID
91983
Comment

The way I view sex is a whole lot different than what I used to think. Sure, I used to hear about all the "no sex until marriage" thing and for a long time, I believed and lived it. Now, my thinking on it has changed. I don't believe in promiscuous sex, but I do think that if you're in a loving relationship, sex can be something really special.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-04-30T12:54:29-06:00
ID
91984
Comment

OK, so what do the gay kids do? They cant get married, so they can never have a sexual relationship?

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-04-30T13:13:20-06:00
ID
91985
Comment

According to the thumpers, not only should gays not have a sexual relationship, but being gay in of itself is wrong. I guess they think gay kids should burn in hell.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2007-04-30T13:32:42-06:00
ID
91986
Comment

The message is irresponsible and if you had a truthful survey for all involved, the answer would be, "Yes I had sex before marriage." So many people do not get married so should sex be a sacred cow for those women and men who have found legal connections? With our AIDS problem and so many unwanted teen pregnancies, we should be preaching safe sex. I do agree that abstinence would be great as it relates to being an absolute fool proof method of birth control and protection against the spread of sexually transmitted disease. But face it folks, this ain't the way it is. Our purpose and goal would move in a more positive direction if we, "Just say yes to safe sex."

Author
justjess
Date
2007-05-01T08:56:01-06:00
ID
91987
Comment

Maybe instead of burning in hell they could simply join the Companions of the Flame! (As the Qur'an so quaintly puts it.) I don't really know if it matters what sort of message you send adults. They are in fact going to have sex or not as they please. (Please don't lose sight of that in your rhetoric.) I have to admit, I don't follow sex ed much these days. I figure I know what causes babies and what the odds are of catching aids are for myself. Since I stay up a lot I catch the public service announcements about the older guys who prey on the younger women. Frankly the stats they quote on that topic make me wish some of our young women were smart enough not to hook up with men so old, and that parents and society would stick the offenders under the jail. I know I always had roscoe with me when I had that conversation with men over 18 who were hitting on my under age daughters. Glad they are old enough to be stupid on their own these days! Oh, but, what I was wondering, do they no longer teach about contraception in conjunction with the aids message? Danno

Author
Danno
Date
2007-05-01T20:52:23-06:00
ID
91988
Comment

Another Bush Administration official jumps off the sinking ship .

Author
FreeClif
Date
2007-05-02T11:11:38-06:00
ID
91989
Comment

That is a good reminder that there are people *making money* off abstinence-only programs that don't work, in addition to using them for cheap political votes.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2007-05-02T11:14:23-06:00
ID
91990
Comment

Maybe this should be approached from a "social studies" point of view. Think about it. Kids @ or around 14 should be educated not only on how society works but things that are literally a burden on society such as teen pregs and STDs. Maybe if we give the children a since of pride in themselves as a part of the local society they will try to abstain given that the have a reason to abstain. Else we should just let MDHS start giving free vasectomies and call it a day.

Author
wade G.
Date
2007-05-02T11:29:59-06:00
ID
91991
Comment

Can we get some free stuff that is more fun? I mean, I dunno if I would stand in line for a Vasectomy. Let's have some ideas that are more fun. I KNOW! Forced birth control and abortions and a one child or two hispanic limit. (I just threw in the hispanics since they are supposedly here to replace our young in some reporter's view.) Well, my idea certainly does not seem well received in China. Maybe if we did not label it properly we could get it through. Anyone have any idea how important to our home grown population numbers the underage pregnancy is? We only have one of those in my immediate family, and I certainly would not trade him off for anything. He is truly a unique and smart individual. Hah. Never thought I would go there when I started writing, but I guarantee you the world will be a better place for his contributions. Danno

Author
Danno
Date
2007-05-02T13:11:05-06:00
ID
91992
Comment

how about birth control pills for men? as it stands young women shoulder the burden of chemical pills & prescription costs.

Author
Izzy
Date
2007-05-02T13:31:39-06:00
ID
91993
Comment

Vasectomies are not bad. Best $750 I ever spent.

Author
Willezurmacht
Date
2007-05-02T14:03:16-06:00
ID
91994
Comment

Willezurmacht . I must agree it's money worth spending. Male pills would also be a good idea. Compare the cost from (preg dicovery to the child being 1 year) vs the outpatient 1 hr vist for a Vas. If I were an Insurance company I would be all over that idea. It might also be more effective that after thought abortions. Kind of a preemptive strike.

Author
wade G.
Date
2007-05-03T07:55:38-06:00

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