Studies Show: You Should Let Us Teach Your Children About Our Product!

I’ll admit that I was suckered into believing that yet another opinion writer had come to a faulty conclusion about sex ed:

A SHORT ARTICLE in the Aug. 14 New York Times reported that, according to a survey of more than 15,000 young Americans, abstinence-only programs do not work for HIV prevention. The analysis was published in the August issue of The British Medical Journal and tracked 13 studies.
Most of the programs were school-based. The random trials included control groups. “None of the programs made any significant difference in preventing pregnancy, reducing unprotected sex, or delaying sexual initiation,” reported The Times. The study replicates results from similar trials.

Not to be picky, but the report was actually an analysis of various much smaller studies, not a large survey of that many children. And not to repeat myself, but although these studies purport to have scientific control groups, such claims are ludicrous in the face of the children’s mingling and their natural interest in collecting information about sex and, moreover, they involve “programs,” usually curricula, as opposed to sustained socially based efforts at encouraging specific behavior. (I’d also point out that British researchers might do more good by studying their own problems.)
Of course, in the case of Barbara Dickinson’s op-ed, all of these arguments become moot once the sales pitch is made:

If you can’t bring yourself to have this conversation, Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island offers a wide range of educational resources and teaching tools on human sexuality and reproductive health available to teenagers and parents. We have skilled counselors who can help your teenager make good decisions.

As you may have discerned, Ms. Dickinson works for Planned Parenthood, as the chairwoman of the organization’s Rhode Island branch. In other words, it’s as if a fast-food restaurant’s top RI executive placed an op-ed citing studies that eating a balanced lunch once a week for a month didn’t have an appreciable effect on health.

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16 years ago

There is a basic flaw in the study discussed, at least a flaw in the interpretation of the data.
They took a group of kids who received abstinence-only education between the ages of 8 and 12. From age 12 to 16, the kids were given the normal “comprehensive sex-ed.” Then they interviewed these kids after age 16 and because sexual activity was not different from kids that didn’t take abstinence-only education at the young age, they determined that the programs didn’t work.
Couldn’t it have also been said that if you DO NOT give kids abstinence-only education from age 12 to 16, they will not have the skills and knowledge necessary to remain abstinent?
OR – couldn’t it be said that if you give kids aged 12 to 16 a “comprehensive sex-ed” program that teachers, among other things, how to have safer (not safe) sex, then these kids will become sexually active?

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