For years anti-abstinence lobbyists have been touting suspect studies to promote the notion that abstinence education is wholly ineffective. Lobbyists for "comprehensive sex education" actually convinced President Obama and many Members of Congress that federal funds instead should be devoted exclusively to their condoms-and-contraceptives programs.
Now that research favoring abstinence education has undeniably reached critical mass (see USA Today, "U.S. study: Program aided teen abstinence"), what have we learned from the misplaced animus toward effective abstinence education?
While science itself remains objective, individual scientists can be biased. The eagerness of researchers to prove their own ideologically driven assumptions or to secure grant funding too often seeps into study designs and results reporting. When the subject of research challenges the status quo consensus of researchers and policy advocates, as has been the case with abstinence programs, objective analysis is especially hard to come by.
President Obama promised in his Inaugural Address to "restore science to its rightful place." He would do well to remember the limitations as well as the promise of science.
As Zogby polling revealed, when parents learn what abstinence education vs. comprehensive sex education actually teaches, their support for abstinence programs reaches 60%, while support for "comprehensive sex" programs drops to 30%."
Politicians and pundits take note: When it comes to sex education, Mom and Dad really do know best.