Post Peddles Liberal Spin on Abstinence-Ed Study
UPDATE at bottom of post
Citing a new study that shows no statistical difference in sexual activity between kids taught abstinence-only sex ed and kids taught about contraceptives, the April 14 Washington Post presented the results as a moral and scientific vindication for critics of abstinence-only education.
From the get-go, abstinence-only proponents were dealt a short hand in reporter Laura Sessions Stepp's page A2 article. The headline read: "Study Casts Doubts on Abstinence-Only Programs."
But was it really the survey itself that cast doubts, or liberal activists reading into the data a way to score political points against abstinence-only advocates? (continued...)
According to Stepp's own article it seems the data neither vindicates nor indicts abstinence-only education in terms of preventing or causing unprotected sex among minors.
Indeed, note how Stepp reports children taught abstinence instruction had a better grasp of preventing sexually transmitted diseases (portions in bold my emphasis):
The results came as a bit of surprise even to Christopher Trenholm, who supervised the project at Mathematica Policy Research Inc. An early analysis by his organization showed some attitude shifts toward delaying sex among students in the abstinence programs, but those differences disappeared as students got older. One thing they also learned, Trenholm said, was that kids receiving abstinence instruction did not use condoms less often than other kids, a possibility that critics occasionally raise. They also showed slightly better knowledge about the prevention of sexually transmitted disease.
Stepp writes more on the condom usage numbers. Apparently teaching kids the mechanics of using condoms doesn't mean they will.
Kids in both groups were knowledgeable about the risks of having sex without using a condom or other form of protection. Knowing that did not mean they put on a condom every time, however. Condom use was not high in either group; of those who had sex, almost half said they used condoms only "sometimes" or "never."
Of course, social conservatives might caution that government policy, no matter what it is, can only do so much to combat the highly sexualized nature of pop culture influences that glamorize sex and/or lack of instruction in the home and at houses of worship about sexual morals.
Yet nowhere in her article does Stepp explore that notion that the study data may show government policy alone is not the answer to preventing or forestalling sex before marriage.
Indeed, rather than explore that point of view, Stepp closes her article with a cautionary note from the left.
"Comprehensive education means teaching about abstinence and a myriad of other topics," said [SIECUS] spokeswoman Martha Kempner. Among them, she said: "contraception, critical thinking, one's own values and the values of your family and your religious community.
"Abstinence-only was an experiment and it failed."
UPDATE: Sister Toldjah blogged about this article, focusing on the liberal agenda of SIECUS, whose spokeswoman step consults at the close of her article:
Read more on SIECUS’ excitement over the results from the abstinence study here. Judging by the examples of what they advocate teaching to children as young as 5, it’s not difficult to understand why they appear to almost welcome the findings, rather than find them alarming. This is the group public educators in America turn to for guidance on teaching sex ed in the classroom.
And yes, SIECUS view conservatives as “the opposition.” Similarly, Planned Parenthood views the “religious right”, aka anyone concerned about what’s being taught in the classroom - and at ‘official family planning’ sites like PP - to kids and teens about sex, as the enemy (oh, and they view parents as the enemy, too).