Jack Cafferty: 'Abstinence-Only Sex Education Might Just Work'

Jack Cafferty, CNN Commentator | NewsBusters.orgCNN's Jack Cafferty, during a commentary on Tuesday's Situation Room, fairly presented the results of recent "landmark" study which indicates abstinence-only sex education has better results than "safe sex" classes in preventing teenagers from having sex : "This just in: abstinence-only sex education might just work... [The] study...could have huge implications on the national debate over lowering teen pregnancy rates, as well as sexually-transmitted diseases."

Cafferty devoted his commentary 14 minutes into the 6 pm Eastern hour to the study, which was published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine on Monday. After noting the results, that only "33 percent of sixth and seventh graders who took an abstinence-only program began having sex within two years," compared to "52 percent who were taught only about safe sex...[and] 42 percent who learned about both safe sex and abstinence," the commentator disclosed the Obama administration's decision to roll back funding of such abstinence studies. He continued by reporting the reactions from both sides of the sex ed debate: "Some call the abstinence research ‘game-changing,’ that it comes after years of getting a bad rap. But critics though say the curriculum in this study isn’t a good example of abstinence-only programs. They say the class studied didn’t take a moral tone. It encouraged teens to wait to have sex until they’re ready, not until they’re married; and it didn’t disapprove of condom use."

Near the end of his commentary, Cafferty put the study in some context: "The results of this study, ironically, come just a week after another report showing that after a decade of declining teen pregnancies, the rate’s going up again among all racial and all ethnic groups."

It's plausible that the CNN commentator picked up on the study from a story in the Washington Post earlier in the day. Carolyn Plocher of MRC's Culture and Media Institute noted that the Post's Rob Stein devoted his article on Tuesday to the results of the abstience-only programs. This is after he had criticized the funding of abstinence-only programs in a week earlier in a January 26 story.

The full transcript of Jack Cafferty's commentary from Tuesday's Situation Room:
JACK CAFFERTY: This just in: abstinence-only sex education might just work. A landmark, federally-funded study shows the first clear evidence that these programs can persuade teenagers to put off having sex, and this could have huge implications on the national debate over lowering teen pregnancy rates, as well as sexually-transmitted diseases.

The study appears in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. It shows 33 percent of sixth and seventh graders who took an abstinence-only program began having sex within two years. But that’s much better than the 52 percent who were taught only about safe sex, and went on to have sex within two years- [and] 42 percent who learned about both safe sex and abstinence.

The Obama administration had cut out more than $170 million in annual federal funding for the abstinence programs, and instead, put more than $100 million toward other types of sex-ed programs. But based on these new findings, officials now suggest similar abstinence programs could be eligible for some of these federal dollars.

Some call the abstinence research ‘game-changing,’ that it comes after years of getting a bad rap. But critics though say the curriculum in this study isn’t a good example of abstinence-only programs. They say the class studied didn’t take a moral tone. It encouraged teens to wait to have sex until they’re ready, not until they’re married; and it didn’t disapprove of condom use. One researcher says the take-away is that the best solution to fight the problem is to use a wide range of programs. The results of this study, ironically, come just a week after another report showing that after a decade of declining teen pregnancies, the rate’s going up again among all racial and all ethnic groups.

So here’s the question: what role should abstinence-only sex education play in preventing teen pregnancy? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile, post a comment on my blog.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center