Obama Admin Relents, Posts Pro-Abstinence Education Study After Complaints

The Obama administration relented recently in the face of public pressure and national news highlighting how the Health and Human Services Department refused to make public a new study showing the effectiveness of abstinence education programs. Here are the details from LifeNews.com:

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of HHS, funded a survey of 1,000 adolescents 12-18 years-old in order to measure parent-adolescent communication and adolescent attitudes toward sex and abstinence.

The study found parents strongly support the concept that sexual relations are best saved for a marital relationship and parents’ attitudes are more important in influencing adolescent views than the level of parent communication with their adolescent.

The American Public Health Association (APHA) highlighted the results on its web site: “Adjusting for all other factors in the model, parent and peer factors are more consistently associated with differences in adolescent attitudes about sex and abstinence than are measures of adolescent exposure to sex and abstinence topics in a class or program.”

However, during an APHA conference, researcher Lisa Rue, Ph.D., who specializes in adolescent behavior, was intrigued by the study and requested the full report. She was denied access and the Obama administration denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for it.

The National Abstinence Education Association responded by encouraged interested persons to submit a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the public release of a study.

“Hundreds submitted the request for openness regarding the study. As a result, HHS posted the entire study report on Monday,” NAEA official Valerie Huber informed her group’s supporters today. “NAEA applauds your timely efforts and the quick response by HHS to your well-intended requests.”

Looking at the study, the National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents, a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adolescents and their “most knowledgeable parent” measured parent/adolescent attitudes and communication for youth who received classes or programs which delivered messages about waiting until marriage to engage in sex.

The study found: 70% of parents agreed with the statement: “It is against your values for your adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage.”

Another 70 percent of parents agreed with the statement: “Having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do.”

Adolescents had similar responses for the two questions.

“We have to know cultural norms and values before we ever do any kind of research, or develop initiatives,” Rue, the researcher requesting the study, told CitizenLink. “If you ignore that, you’re ignoring a premise, a key premise in evaluation science and research.”

Chad Hills, a social policy analyst with CitizenLink, added, “This information would better inform policymakers concerning the standard which a majority of the public wants them to uphold in public education. If they are not fully informed, how can they establish good policies?”

You can read the abstinence study results here.