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Friday, August 20, 2010

The Anti-Abstinence Presidency

Could someone tell me why a college prof has been denied the results of a survey on abstinence?

"The taxpayer-supported survey from 2008 found that around 70 percent of parents and their teenagers believed that teens should wait until marriage to have sex. Despite release of the study's summary and its highlight at two major public health conferences last year, the Department of Health and Human Services is withholding the full results according to Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Foundation.

"When a researcher [Dr. Lisa Rue] asked the HHS for the full results, she [was told it] is not public information and it has not been released to the public and so you don't have access to it," relates Huber. "[I find that] a little incredulous since it was shared publicly at two different venues."...

In a short article about her efforts to obtain a copy of the "National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents" (conducted by Abt Associates), Dr. Rue says that having been denied access twice by the Obama administration "leaves me to reflect on the role of cultural values with regard to prevention science."

The University of Northern Colorado assistant professor continues: "If we are truly interested in learning how to prevent two critical epidemics currently devastating our country (out-of-wedlock child bearing and sexually transmitted infections), then the nationally representative findings provide momentum and support for accessing cultural values of parents and children which promote optimal health choices for adolescents."

Of course not. Don't allow such findings to become public or much talked about for that matter. Doesnt fit the template. After all, we're all just sex-craved little lemmings, slaves to our own desires, with no hope of ever changing. Why not do it in the road? The authors of the above article request that those who are interested in the results of the survey should petition the Obama administration through the Freedom of Information Act in order to obtain the results. Is this theor idea of "transparency"?

Heritage.org has come up with a list of where there actually have been successes in implementing abstinence programs in different parts of the US. For example...

"Taught over 20 class periods by certified and program-trained health educators, the Reasons of the Heart (ROH) curriculum focuses on individual character development and teaches adolescents the benefits that are associated with abstinence until marriage.

A 2008 study evaluated the ROH curriculum's impact on adolescent sexual activity among seventh grade students in three suburban northern Virginia public schools. The researchers also collected data on a comparison group of seventh grade students in two nearby middle schools that did not participate in the program. Students in those schools instead received the state's standard family life education, which included two videos on HIV/ STD prevention and one on abstinence.

The evaluators surveyed seventh grade students in all five schools before and after the program. They found that, a year after the program, 32 (9.2 percent) of the 347 ROH students who were virgins at the initial survey had initiated sexual activity, compared with 31 (or 16.4 percent) of the 189 comparison group students. Controlling for the differences between the comparison group and ROH students, the study reported that ROH students were half as likely as comparison group students to initiate sexual activity. The evaluators concluded, "This result appears to compare favorably to the reductions in initiation achieved by some of the abstinence programs [evaluated in earlier studies]."

One famous author concluded that "abstinence never killed" anybody and I whole-heartedly agree. Would anyone like to speculate as to what the rational reason is that the Obama administration is trying to completely eliminate abstinence education in favor of a wider distribution of condoms instead? It would seem that one program would encourage teens to think about their actions and desires and the other would send the message that they should just give themselves over to them.


Froggie said...

The probalem with the abstinence only people is that they want absinence only taught exclusively.

I want my kids to have ALL the information so they can make the most informed choices.

It is interesting to note that the top ten states for teen pregnancy are also in the bible belt and the main promoters of abstinence only.

States ranked by rates of live births among women age 15-19 (births per thousand):

1.Mississippi (71)
2.Texas (69)
3.Arizona (67)
4.Arkansas (66)
5.New Mexico (66)
6.Georgia (63)
7.Louisiana (62)
8.Nevada (61)
9.Alabama (61)
10.Oklahoma (60)

In the case of sex education, I don't give a rat's behind what they teach in school health classes. We were very proactive in educating our kids to the consequenses of being sexually active from an early age and more than most people would even dare to inform their kids.

It is no mystery why none of the five had kids till they had finished their education and were mostly established as independent adults.

JD Curtis said...

We were very proactive in educating our kids to the consequenses of being sexually active from an early age and more than most people would even dare to inform their kids

You can talk about it until youre blue in the face. I don't think that they care. An agressively taught abstinence program would help. I would only refer you to the above Heritage.org link for an extensive list of successful abstinence grograms.

Do you think that completely eliminately abstinence programs like this administration wants to do is a great idea?

Insofar as your own experiences with your kids, can I assume that your kids came from a nuclear family with parents that were involved in their lives?

Arielle said...


It's misleading to claim that the states with abstinence teaching sport the highest birth rates without breaking those statistics down into smaller categories, such as race and districts.

GentleSkeptic said...

I have to say I think you're really reaching on this one. Following the links you provided, this is what I learned.

According to Bumpas and Brown at OneWorldNow (is it just me or does that sound like the promise of sharia?): "The taxpayer-supported survey from 2008 found that around 70 percent of parents and their teenagers believed that teens should wait until marriage to have sex." And under the heading General Attitudes about Sexual Intercourse that's exactly what the pdf shows. So, this appears to be an accurate representation of finding about… general attitudes about sexual intercourse. (Sample size: 1000 adolescents and their 'most knowledgeable parent', 2008)

Here are some other Key Findings:

• Conservative parent attitudes were strongly associated with conservative adolescent attitudes.
• However, higher levels of parent-adolescent communication about sex were not associated with any differences in adolescent attitudes.

So, apparently, talking more about sex doesn't necessarily change kids' minds.

• Adolescents with more conservative peers reported more conservative views.
• Higher levels of peer-adolescent communication about sexual values were associated with less conservative adolescent attitudes.
• Peers were more influential for male adolescents than for females.

So, conservative kids hanging together stay more conservative. (Anyone who's been in a church youth group will not be surprised by this.) And, kids who talk about sex more are more liberal about it, and boys are more vulnerable to peer pressure. Again, no surprises.

• Though adolescent participation in classes/programs where messages about waiting to have sex until marriage were delivered increased parent-adolescent communication levels, it had no influence on adolescent attitudes.

So, while talking about abstinence got kids and their parents talking more, it didn't really change kids' minds.

As far as I can tell, this study didn't even explore kids' intention to BE abstinent. At all. I guess I'm not sure where the claim that "abstinence education works" is coming from.

Jquip said...

Froggie: I want my kids to have ALL the information so they can make the most informed choices.

Does that include all the information on STD's that condoms cannot prevent transmission of? Herpes, one of the most common, for example.

It wouldn't surprise me one way or the other; but do those 15-19 stats mention marital status? It is certainly doable at those ages -- in all 50 states IIRC.

GentleSkeptic: Absolute correct on peers. It's been shown that peers have a significantly larger effect than parents. Which, one can argue, is all the more reason for parents to be the gatekeepers to their child's company. No different than TV or the internet really.

GentleSkeptic said...

When JD says "Don't allow such findings to become public or much talked about" I don't get it, because I followed HIS links to the findings! I mean, the opening line is "Could someone tell me why a college prof has been denied the results of a survey on abstinence?", and then the first line of the pull-quote talks about the very results the prof has been allegedly denied.

If anyone wants the findings, they're here: http://apha.confex.com/apha/137am/webprogram/Paper202612.html) [click on Handout (free access)

GentleSkeptic said...

As to the Heritage report, it contains all sorts of troubling little caveats like these:

The research field of abstinence program evaluation is developing, so only a handful of programs has been evaluated thus far. Currently, several hundred abstinence programs are in operation nationwide. These programs vary substantially in the youth populations that they serve, in their implementation, and in their curricula. Importantly, the few evaluated programs inadequately represent the spectrum of abstinence programs. Consequently, the available findings are mostly generalizable to the specific conditions under which those particular programs were implemented and to the youth populations that they served.

Most of the evaluations reported in this analysis are quasi-experiments, which incorporate certain elements of experimental design… Quasi-experimental studies adjust for a host of observable factors other than abstinence education that might confound the results. Depending on the rigor of the evaluation design and the adequacy of the statistical analysis employed by the researchers, the degree of confidence with which conclusions may be drawn about the findings from non-experimental studies can vary. Consequently, all findings should be interpreted with the full context of the program and evaluation in view.
The virginity pledge studies used a longitudinal survey of self-reported data. (!!!)

This paper focuses on the significant positive behavioral outcomes as reported by the studies(12 of them)… In addition, this paper discusses five studies that reported no significant impact.

I'm all for abstinence education. Just not "abstinence-only" education.

JD Curtis said...

I don't get it, because I followed HIS links to the findings!

GS, is this the complete report? I don't think that the full report was basically one paragraph in length. I think that what they wanted was more in depth statistical info from their research. Was it broken down by responses by single-parent households? Race? Income? Etc.

Besides abstinence programs, what else do you approve of?

Jquip said...

GentleSkeptic: My understanding, from previous report summaries, taken in summary, is that abstinence and the studious scholarship of how to apply a condom to a banana orally are best together rather than isolated from the other.

Is this correct to your sense of things?

GentleSkeptic said...

GS, is this the complete report?

No, but a more complete summary pdf is available at that page: click on "Handout (free access)".

Your introductory assertion was "a college prof has been denied the results of a survey on abstinence" and you went on to say "Don't allow such findings to become public or much talked about for that matter." But the results/findings are publicly available. I downloaded them.

It's been a long time since high school, but I'm almost certain that no oral applications of condoms are demonstrated, because the Right hasn't freaked out over said demonstration.

I approve of candid discussion of abstinence and the advantages it bestows, as well as frank discussion of each STD and modes of transmission.

More information is better.

Gregg said...

It is not the school's or government's responsibility to teach sex education to our children. It is the parent's absolute responsibility.

In a perfect world, at the appropriate time, this information would be taught. However, the secret, is parents are responsible to teach their childrne when they wake up, when the lay down, when they walk out their door, when they are at work, in other words, parents are to teach continually.

Morales, values, wise and proper choices are to be modeled and taught.

We don't live in a perfect world. We don't live in a world where there are hardly two parent anymore. We don't live in a world where parents take their responsbilities seriously. We abdicated and gave them over to the state to educate, sans morales and values.

Now, that the schools are teaching sex ed, there most always be provisos for parents whom deem state education inferior, substandard, sans morals or values to opt for the opportunity of training them as they see fit.

Abstinence until marriage needs to be taught with the reasons why. Since we don't live in a perfect world, if we opt to allow the state to take our responsbility then they need to teach more than just abstinence but it must be included as the best way to avoid pregancy, STD's emotional trauma, etc.

The challenge is we live in a society and time when almost all from teens to adults want freedom without consequence, choice without moral restraint, opportunities without intererence.