Archive for Sunday, December 16, 2007

Are abstinence programs just not doing it?

More states refusing federal funding amid claims that it’s ineffective

December 16, 2007


— The number of states refusing federal money for "abstinence-only" sex education programs jumped sharply in the past year as evidence mounted that the approach is ineffective.

At least 14 states have either notified the federal government that they will no longer be requesting the funds or are not expected to apply, forgoing more than $15 million of the $50 million available, officials said. Virginia was the most recent state to opt out.

Two other states, Ohio and Washington, have applied but stipulated they'd use the money for comprehensive sex education, effectively making themselves ineligible, federal officials said. Other states are considering withdrawing as well.

Until this year, only four states had passed up the funding.

"My greatest concern about states dropping out is that these are valuable services and programs," said Stan Koutstaal of the Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the program. "It's the youths in these states who are missing out."

The number of states spurning the money has grown even as Congress considers boosting overall funding for abstinence-only education to $204 million, with most of it going directly to community organizations.

The trend has triggered intense lobbying of state legislators and governors around the country. Supporters of the programs are scrambling to reverse the decisions, while opponents are pressuring more states to join the trend.

"This wave of states rejecting the money is a bellwether," said William Smith of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, a Washington-based advocacy and education group that opposes abstinence-only programs. "It's a canary in the coal mine of what's to come."

"We hope that it sends a message to the politicians in Washington that this program needs to change, and states need to be able to craft a program that is the best fit for their young people and that is not a dictated by Washington ideologues," Smith said.

Smith and other critics said they hoped that if enough states drop out, Congress will redirect the funding to comprehensive sex education programs that include teaching about the use of condoms and other contraceptives.

But supporters said they plan to fight for the programs state by state.

"We're talking about the health of millions of youth across the United States," said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association. "We know abstinence education offers the best for them. Now is the time to put more emphasis on that message, not less."

Huber disputed criticism that the programs are ineffective or overly restrictive.

"Our critics would have governors believe that these programs are just somebody standing in front of the class wagging a finger and saying, 'No. No. No. Don't have sex.' That's not what these classes entail," Huber said. "They are holistic. They include relationship-building skills and medically accurate discussions of sexually transmitted diseases and contraception."

The jump in states opting out follows a series of reports questioning the effectiveness of the approach, including one commissioned by Congress that was released earlier this year. In addition, federal health officials have reported that a 14-year drop in teenage pregnancy rates appeared to have reversed.

The reasons given for passing up the federal money vary from state to state. Some governors publicly repudiated the programs. Others quietly let their applications lapse or blamed tight budgets.


blackwalnut 10 years, 5 months ago

Poor Dollypawpaw! You know, ignorance to be deplored only if it is willful and the ignorant person chooses to become informed. Start with this:

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 10 years, 5 months ago

DPP, I suppose you are telling me good little Christian conservative children never have sex? What planet are you from anyway? There are good things about teaching abstinence, like relationship building, and resisting peer pressure, but sometimes people can't resist their bodily urges, and they need to be informed how to protect themselves. Those people who believe otherwise, just think AIDS is punishment for those who have sex, so they want these people to die for this horrible sin. Having a rounded education is best. Why withhold information?

hornhunter 10 years, 5 months ago

Maybe teens should be required to marry upon entering jr. high, because after marriage its almost the same as abstinence

yourworstnightmare 10 years, 5 months ago

As a faith-based program, the fact that the data show they don't work is a success.

As long as there is faith that the program works, reality and facts and data and observation are unimportant.

Paul R Getto 10 years, 5 months ago

It strikes me as ironic that NCLB requires "research-based" proven programs be used for school improvement efforts, unless they are promoted by Bush family members or friends. Then it's OK to continue to waste money on unproven programs. It's good to be the King!

lunacydetector 10 years, 5 months ago

the abstinence program used in 9 african countries has cut teen pregnancy 61%. i wonder why it doesn't work in the united states? because people keep doubting it works? in Uganda, its abstinence program brought down the HIV infection rate from more than 30% to below 6% without promoting condoms.

aren't some of you confusing religion with morals?

cowboy 10 years, 5 months ago

get caught not abstaining in much of the third world and you'll get the stoning penalty , kids will only have sex when they have the chance , which is often , get your daughters birth control and stay connected with them

JayCat_67 10 years, 5 months ago

"They are holistic. They include relationship-building skills and medically accurate discussions of sexually transmitted diseases and contraception."

Umm... this doesn't exactly look like abstinence ONLY to me...

I'm all for abstinence being taught as the one sure way to avoid the risks of sexual activity, including the emotional consequenses of relationships that turn sour after said activity. But, get real, even that will not stop some from "doing it" before they are ready. Teens think they're invincible and the bad stuff always happens to someone else. Give them information and trust though, and they may surprise you. Perhaps, if sex were regarded as a natural part of life, and an activity that involves responsible decision making instead of some dirty little secret to be swept under the rug, some of the decisions everyone (not just teens) makes will be based on well thought out information, not fear or shame.

Richard Heckler 10 years, 5 months ago

All parents and Planned Parenthood preach abstinence. Young people have been having sex for forever no matter what others try to persuade. Even some of those preaching had sex experience during the teen years. It does no good to bring polticians and high profiled so called religious voices into these matters.

Leave it to the parents and do not be afraid to allow in depth child care and sex education into the public school system. Learning all about the body functions and how to care for children presents clarity for the future.

jonas 10 years, 5 months ago

"Das_Ubermime (Anonymous) says:

Pretty sure that God saves his love for those who practice what they preach."

"enforcer (Kathy Gragg) says:

I thought God loved everyone."

It was just confusion. It SAID it was god, when it visited Pawpaw. And it was wearing a pro-life button AND an NRA sticker, so there was not way Pawpaw wasn't going to believe what it said.

And lo, the false god said unto its Dolly, go to the forums, and senselessly knock on liberals, whatever they are.

ksdivakat 10 years, 5 months ago

I just could not believe what i was reading this morning....

There isn't a Christian on the planet that can teach a pig to fly. mandatory sterilization for all professed christians at 10 years of age. would solve a lot of our problems.

Is that right?? And Dolly, I suppose YOU could teach a pig to fly?? And because people are christian they should be sterilized?? I say sterilize the idiots and then it will be ok. Just because christians want their kids to be taught abstinence is a bad thing?? Because of AIDS, HIV, various VD's that can stay with you for life, and the unplanned pregnancy...........lets just teach them to Screw whoever they want whenever they want right?? Reality is that you can teach the abstinence all you want, but ultimately they will make the decision. Because I dont want the school system to forget to tell my kid that condems have a 20% failure rate, or that 9 times out of 10 when the teen girl tells the teen boy that shes pregnant, the first thing out of his mouth is "its not mine" or he "forgets" to tell my teen daughter hes HIV or AIDS positive.........I guess Im a bad parent for wanting my teens to know that the only sure way of preventing any of these is abstinence, makes me crazy, fanatical, christian? Ok, but at least im doing something, at least there is an ongoing dialogue about it in my house, So unless any of you can tell me that there is a "new" 100% guaranteed method to NOT have something bad happen to you as a result of sex, then please educate me!

ksdivakat 10 years, 5 months ago

Kathy, the answer to your question is simply this...God loves everyone, no matter what, but you make a choice in the decisions you make and the actions you take, that is your choice, not gods. Its not my job to judge anyone, its my job as a christian to love everyone, and i mean everyone, no matter what, and I try to do just that, if you are interested in finding out more about what God could mean in your life, Id be happy to talk with you personally, you just let me know!

valgrlku 10 years, 5 months ago

Does anyone else wonder why the proponents of these programs dont' ever discuss the increase of oral and anal sex and the increase in STD transmission (like pharyngeal gonorrhea) associated with these practices in teens? Since abstinence regarding "traditional sex" is promoted, some teens view these other sexual practices as substitutes that don't affect their virginity status. I laughed at the article's comment that states these programs use medically and scientifically based education- hardly. Makes me wonder why the government is so intent on shoving abstinence education down our students' throats (literally and figuratively!).

sheshapes 10 years, 5 months ago

I never thought I'd say this about anyone, but I'm kind of hoping Kathy Gragg finds God. Or would that make her more dangerous? Oh well, it's worth a shot--- Hey Kathy, why not call ksdivakat? She's willing to talk with you personally and answer all of your questions about God...

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