Sunday, November 11, 2007

The religious right is wrong again

Here's a cheery follow-up of more news of the sort in this earlier post.

Report: Abstinence Not Curbing Teen Sex
Programs that focus exclusively on abstinence have not been shown to affect teenager sexual behavior, although they are eligible for tens of millions of dollars in federal grants, according to a study released by a nonpartisan group that seeks to reduce teen pregnancies.

"At present there does not exist any strong evidence that any abstinence program delays the initiation of sex, hastens the return to abstinence or reduces the number of sexual partners" among teenagers, the study concluded.

The report, which was based on a review of research into teenager sexual behavior, was being released Wednesday by the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.

The study found that while abstinence-only efforts appear to have little positive impact, more comprehensive sex education programs were having "positive outcomes" including teenagers "delaying the initiation of sex, reducing the frequency of sex, reducing the number of sexual partners and increasing condom or contraceptive use."

Sadly, some Congressional facilitators of the religious right want to waste more of our tax money ($141 million) on more of this same sort of tax-sponsored religious propaganda:
A spending bill before Congress for the Department of Health and Human Services would provide $141 million in assistance for community-based, abstinence-only sex education programs, $4 million more than what President Bush had requested.

Contact your Congressperson and complain.

And incidentally, not only do abstinence-only programs not work, they are based on misinformation and myths about comprehensive sex education:
The study, conducted by Douglas Kirby, a senior research scientist at ETR Associates, also sought to debunk what the report called "myths propagated by abstinence-only advocates" including: that comprehensive sex education promotes promiscuity, hastens the initiative of sex or increases its frequency, and sends a confusing message to adolescents.

None of these was found to be accurate, Kirby wrote.

Instead, he wrote, such programs [i.e. comprehensive sex education] improved teens' knowledge about the risks and consequences of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases and gave them greater "confidence in their ability to say 'no' to unwanted sex."

Additional information:

Emerging Answers 2007

National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

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