Illinois action blog

Friday, November 9, 2007

Abstinence-Only Programs Ineffective

A recently released report, titled Emerging Answers 2007, shows that abstinence-only programs are ineffective. This follows a previous report (December 2004) by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) which found that more than two-thirds of the federally funded abstinence-only programs contain distorted and false information. As the evidence against abstinence-only programs continues to emerge, more people are starting to pay attention.

The 2007 study, done by Douglas Kirby, Ph.D., and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, is the third in a series on sex education curricula. The report supports what health care providers like Planned Parenthood and youth organizations like the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health have been saying all along. We need to arm our teens with ALL of the necessary information in order for them to make good choices and protect themselves. That means information about prevention, contraception, responsible decision-making, and abstinence.

No one will argue that abstinence information has no value. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that abstaining from sex is a guaranteed way to avoid unintended pregnancies. We can argue (and now with good reason) that many teens do not choose to abstain from sex and therefore abstinence-only is too limited in scope. The information we provide our young people must be accurate, age-appropriate, and comprehensive. Anything less than that is potentially harmful, and quite frankly, a waste of time and money.

Speaking of money, more than $1 billion has already been wasted on abstinence-only programs over the past decade. The Bush administration continues to push these programs, despite the fact that they are ineffective - not to mention misleading and inaccurate. The silver lining to all of this is that the light bulb is finally coming on for some states (thanks in part to studies like these) and they are rejecting the federal funding for abstinence-only programs. Colorado recently became the 13th state to do so.

For some interesting facts you might not know about teen and unplanned pregnancy, check out this list from the National Campaign.

Technorati tags: tagname, Planned Parenthood, abstinence only programs, sex education

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