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Abstaining From Abstinence Programs
To appease the religious nutters, government has thrown piles of money at abstinence programs. Here's yet another study that says they don't work:

The study, conducted for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was authorized by Congress in 1997 to evaluate the effectiveness of programs funded under Title V, Section 510 of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. Nationwide, more than 700 Title V, Section 510 programs receive up to $50 million annually from the federal government in order to teach youth about abstinence from sexual activity outside of marriage. Additional funding from state matching block grants brings annual spending for Title V, Section 510 sexual abstinence education programs to $87.5 million.

The study found that youth in the four evaluated programs were no more likely than youth not in the programs to have abstained from sex in the four to six years after they began participating in the study. Youth in both groups who reported having had sex also had similar numbers of sexual partners and had initiated sex at the same average age.

Contrary to concerns raised by some critics of federal funding for abstinence education, however, youth in the abstinence education programs were no more likely to have engaged in unprotected sex than youth who did not participate in the programs.

“This is the first study of multi-year abstinence programs, and it is one of the few that has tracked its sample members for as long as six years,” notes Christopher Trenholm, the project director and a senior researcher at Mathematica. “The study finds that the sexual abstinence of students in four programs selected for the study was much the same as that of students who did not participate in these programs.”

“Some policymakers and health educators have criticized the Title V, Section 510 abstinence education programs, questioning whether the focus on abstinence puts teens at risk of having unprotected sex,” says Barbara Devaney, one of the study's principal investigators and vice president and director of Human Services Research at Mathematica. “The evaluation findings suggest that this is not the case. Participants in the abstinence education programs and nonparticipating youth had similar rates of unprotected sex at first intercourse and over the past 12 months.”

Posted by aalkon at April 14, 2007 7:30 AM


It's not about whether the policies work - they don't care about policies working. The key is that the policies are what the Christianist movement thinks are godly. The religious right doesn't want people to know about birth control, safer sex, or abortion; they don't want people to consider any of these things as options because they're not in tune with the will of God. They don't care about the actual effects of this type of education, because people who fail to follow the abstinence-until-marriage-and-then- have-sex-for-procreation-only-policies are sinners who deserve what they get. Once you understand this, it all makes sense.

Posted by: justin case at April 14, 2007 10:47 AM

... or perhaps it all makes "sense."

Posted by: justin case at April 14, 2007 10:47 AM

Why would any religious organization push "abstinence" programs?

Abstinence didn't work for Mary!

Posted by: Radwaste at April 14, 2007 4:40 PM

One of the oldest quips : 'What do you call women who use rhythm as a method of birth control'? Mothers.
The U.S. AIDS program in Africa is panned by the U.N. because - tah-dah - birth control/condom use is not promoted. Sounds rather familiar, doesn't it ?
Are you going to blame the people you style 'lefties' - one of the characterizations you so decry in others - for this ? No ?

Posted by: opit at April 15, 2007 8:50 AM

I heard that kids in those abstinence programs have more anal sex, because in their minds, it doesn't count as sex. Maybe oral too, who knows.

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