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Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hmmm...maybe teens abstaining from sex really does prevent pregnancy

Two contrasting Washington Post news articles within a week of each other offer an object lesson on federal sex education policy.
Interpreting a report of rising teen pregnancy, "Critics argued that the disturbing new data were just the latest in a long series of indications that the focus on abstinence programs was a dismal failure" ("Rise in teenage pregnancy rate spurs new debate on arresting it"). Sympathetic to such assertions, President Obama had defunded abstinence programs in his budget proposal.
Then suddenly, an irreproachable new study rocked the world of abstinence critics. Not only did abstinence education achieve impressive results; it also outperformed the competing approaches favored in federal funding—condom training and "comprehensive sex ed" ("Abstinence-only programs might work, study says," February 2, 2010; A01).
Ideologically and financially motivated groups had attempted to blame abstinence programs for teen pregnancies without any evidence whatsoever of a causal link. By contrast, scientists with no ideological axe to grind and no profit to make reported the objective results of a randomized controlled trial.
President Obama promised to "restore science to its rightful place." Now that science contradicts his own position, will he still fulfill that promise?

1 comment:

Rick Machado said...

One study does not a science make Jonathan. The last study I read about middle school students showed 98% of them said it was a good idea to wait to have sex, and 2% said they weren't sure. So to have 13 yr old students not have sex for 2 years isn't stunning at all. Thats because teen pregnancy and the teen birth rate (TBR) have nothing to do with sex at all.

The right question to ask is not "how many are having sex? The right question to ask is how many are getting pregnant and giving birth?. A graph would show 3 roughly parallel lines going up- the adult birth rate (ABR), the TBR, and the unemployment rate. Teens have followed the ABR almost lockstep since records were kept. And the TBR is tied directly to the economy. Today's poverty rate is the TBR in roughly 10 years.

When you talk about teen pregnancy Jonathan, and you are not talking about poverty, the ABR, sex abuse, the economy, and the lack of a bright future, you're not talking about teen prenancy at all. It's an adult problem, always was, and not a teen problem at all.

And abstinence? Abstinence taught as a birth control method is another form of sex abuse, another in a long line of ways adults crush kids. It's proof, as I always say, that we in the US hate our children.

Rick Machado
Public Speaker on Teen Pregnancy