Friday, May 8, 2009

Abstinence-only sex ed: hopefully a thing of the past

Here's baby mama Bristol Palin in February 2009 telling Fox News that teen abstinence is not "realistic at all." Now, she's done a 180 and is being promoted as the poster child for abstinence by the Candie's Foundation. This abstinence-promoting foundation is, ironically, the philanthropic branch of the Candie's clothing and shoe brand which advertises its "just-say-no" philosophy like this:

Girls, do dress and act a whore, but don't have sex!

What I'd like to know is how much Candie's is paying Bristol Palin. According to Anderson Cooper's 360 show, the Candie's Foundation compensated the teen mom for her "time" and travel expenses but she is not a paid employee. Here is the Foundation's founder and Candie's C.E.O. Neil Cole with his two teenage spokeswomen, Hayden Panettiere and Palin.

I can't believe the continued prevalence of moronic abstinence-only sex ed in this country! Why don't people like Cole do their research before touting a philosophy that does not work on teenagers and ends up misleading them, and allowing them to get STDs and pregnant because they were not properly educated on how to protect themselves? It's sad and preventable.

Since 1996, the United States government has poured more than 1.3 billion dollars into ineffective abstinence-only sex ed programs. Thankfully, President Obama decided to put an end to this idiocy and will use federal money for a more balanced and realistic sex ed program. The PDF version of his sex-ed budget is here, beginning on page 39.

"It's about time that evidence-based management - and sanity - return to family planning programs," said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan).

In January, an article was posted on titled "Abstinence-Only Sex Education Statistics - Final Nail in the Coffin." The piece references three separate independent studies on the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education. And the results of the three were all the same: abstinence-only sex ed does not work.

The Cochrane Collaboration was the first to do a study. Then the Mathematic Policy Research Inc.'s published its findings, a pdf version of which is online here. I blogged about this study a couple of years ago when I first heard about "purity rings."
One group had been part of the Christian brainwashing program, and the other group had been spared. Yet both groups of kids behaved exactly the same sexually: 23% in both groups had sex in the previous year and always used a condom, 17% had sex only sometimes using a condom; and 4% had sex never using one. About a quarter of each group had had sex with three or more partners.

Finally, a researcher at Johns Hopkins wrote about her results, available here in the American Journal of Public Health. A summary from about the last study states:

. . . youngsters who took the virginity pledge were not only just as likely to have intercourse, they ultimately were more likely to take part in sex in an unsafe manner. This has led experts to conclude that the lessons students take from their abstinence-only education programs is a negative and/or faulty view of contraception.

It will be interesting to see if teen pregnancies will diminish from the 750,000 per year in the U.S. that occur now. I'm sure once kids learn the facts about contraception instead of being brainwashed by Christians that they must wait until marriage, there will be a lot less unwanted newborns being birthed by children.

Tying it up is a recent South Park's take on Purity Rings. Great stuff.

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