April 13, 2007

And Today's (Un)Surprising Headline...

Via the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex a few years later as those who did not, according to a long-awaited study mandated by Congress.

Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes, and they first had sex at about the same age as their control group counterparts - 14 years and nine months, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

You would think these results (you know, actual facts as developed by actual scientists using actual methods with actual data) would put a stake in the abstinence thing. You would be wrong. Denial runs deep and fast in this Administration:

Officials said one lesson they learned from the study is that the abstinence message should be reinforced in subsequent years to truly affect behavior.

"This report confirms that these interventions are not like vaccines. You can't expect one dose in middle school, or a small dose, to be protective all throughout the youth's high school career," said Harry Wilson, the commissioner of the Family and Youth Services Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families.

Yes, you read that right: abstinence only eductation isn't a failure (as any reasonable person reading the study would conclude), you just need more of it in order to have an effect. The problem here, according to people who must spend a good part of their day orbiting Pluto, is that we need MORE abstinence only education in order to see a reduction in pre-marital sex.

I hope you see the trap being set here: if studies don't find any correlation between abstinence education and less premarital sex, that's because there isn't enough abstinence education (not because the education doesn't work). The solution is to have more education. And when the next study shows that rates of teen sex are the same (again), the solution will be yet more abstinence only education. At the end of that dubious train of logic is the idea that, perhaps, students need eight hours a day, five days a week, of abstinence education in order to fully get the picture (and if that doesn't work, we can start mandating in-home study, as well).

What's next? Federally subsidized chastity belts?

Posted by baltar at April 13, 2007 02:13 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Culture | Health | Politics | You Can't Make This Stuff Up


It's even more fun to look at the charts (via Ampersand.

Posted by: binky at April 14, 2007 04:36 PM | PERMALINK
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