Tag Archives: National Abstinence Education Association

CDC Report: Most teens not sexually active, abstinence education works

New data released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) confirms what will be a surprise to most folks—the majority of teens are NOT sexually active—making it appear that the abstinence education message is getting through to them. Continue reading

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.

Obama, Congress Cut Funding for 176 Abstinence Programs Despite New Study

More than 176 abstinence education programs will lose funding for their outreaches to youth and young adults on September 30 because Congress and the Obama Administration canceled all grants going to abstinence-centered programming in their FY2010 budget. Here are the details from LifeNews.com:

The funding cuts will come even though the Obama administration was forced to reveal the results of a new study showing the effectiveness of abstinence education programs and the support parents have for them.

“We are greatly concerned that the sex education policy being implemented by this administration does not reflect the values of what most parents and teens clearly want,” Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association told LifeNews.com today.

Huber explained that some programs will lose their funding midstream in their five-year grant award.

“This means that nearly two million students will return to school without the skill-building lessons they have come to expect in their abstinence education classes,” she said.

“Teen-sex advocacy groups have pushed for an end to abstinence education funding, despite the fact that a recent HHS study showed most teens and their parents support the core message of the program,” Huber continued.

The study, The National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents, was posted Monday to the HHS website after significant grassroots pressure. It calls into question whether recent sex education policy decisions truly reflect cultural norms or clear evidence-based trends.

According to the findings, about 70% of parents agreed that it is “against [their] values for [their] adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage” and that “having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do.” Adolescents gave similar responses.

Larry McAdoo, executive director of STARS, an abstinence program in Mississippi that will lose funding, also complained about the impending cuts.

“Our state has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the nation. I do not understand why our services to needy teens would be cut short. Mississippi’s teens need more resources, not less,” he said.

“Our abstinence program equips youth with the skills necessary to make healthy choices. Soon, however, Mississippi’s youth will be left without any resources to counter the sexual messages with which they are continually bombarded,” McAdoo added.

Looking further at the study, 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 encouraging 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,” Huber of NAEA said.

Huber concluded in her comments: “It is important that the representative government reflects the desires of its constituents. This study’s findings call for a reinstatement of  funding for abstinence education within the next fiscal budget.”

Related web sites:

Teen Birth Rates Fall After Two Year Increase, Abstinence Education Credited

Poll Shows Majority of Americans Say Abstinence Effective, Want Parents Involved

Multiple news reports are trumpeting the fact that teen birth rates fell in 2008 after increasing during the two years prior, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control. Immediately after the reports surfaced, backers of abstinence education have credited their programs as making an impact. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics reported today that the full birth rate fell two percent in 2008.

Some 4,251,095 babies were born in the United States in 2008, down two percent from the 4.317 million the year before. The birth rate for teenagers aged 15-19 fell by 2 percent as well and the CDC says the decline resumes the long-term trend of falling teen birth rates since 1991 — during a time when abstinence education program were gaining favor. And, the decline was most notable (4%) among teens aged 18-19.

Here are some of the responses to the CDC data, reported by LifeNews.com: Valerie Huber, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told LifeNews.com today she is delighted by the news. “So that the positive trend begun a decade ago can continue, we should redouble our efforts to help teens avoid all the consequences of sexual activity, including teen childbearing,” she said.

However, President Barack Obama eliminated all funding for abstinence-centered education in his FY 2011 budget request to Congress. “Today’s announcement provides Congress an opportunity to make a course correction by again placing a priority on the risk avoidance abstinence-centered message,” Huber said.

Huber said her organization is appealing to all groups who genuinely seek the best health outcomes for youth to join in encouraging the avoidance of all sexual risk. “Today’s news shows that teens are able to make good decisions, even in the midst of a sex saturated culture. We must assure that they continue to receive tools for achieving the best sexual health outcomes – in order to escape all the risks of sexual activity,” she said.

Obama’s budget eliminates funding for CBAE (Community Based Abstinence Education) and Title V Abstinence Education Program. In Obama’s FY 2010 Proposed Budget, the president calls for at least $164 million in funding for contraceptive-only education. The money includes competitive grants, research, evaluation and authorization for $50 million in new mandatory condom grants to states, tribes and territories.

That was the second time Obama has called for less abstinence funding. In the omnibus spending bill Obama signed earlier in 2009, abstinence programs received $95 million, a substantial reduction from the $151 million they previously received.

Here are some of my blogs on the topic:

Here are more reports about the effectiveness of abstinence education:

Abstinence-only program helps kids postpone sex

Reuters Health is reporting that abstinence-only sex education can work – if it’s based on established strategies for helping young people change their attitudes about other types of risky behavior like smoking and drinking, stunning new research shows.

Dr. David Stevens, CEO of the 16,000-member Christian Medical Association, released a statement calling this a “landmark study.”

“Science has finally caught up with logic and what parents have known for centuries by empirically demonstrating that equipping teens to abstain from sexual activity is an effective way to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”

The National Abstinence Education Association has noted, “A survey from Zogby International showing that when parents become aware of what abstinence education vs. comprehensive sex education actually teaches, support for abstinence programs jumps from 40% to 60%, while support for comprehensive programs drops from 50% to 30%. And 59% of parents said more funding should go to abstinence education; 22% said more should go to comprehensive sex education.”

Dr. Stevens added, “It is notable that John B. Jemmott III, the University of Pennsylvania professor who led the federally funded study, candidly admitted, ‘I think we’ve written off abstinence-only education without looking closely at the nature of the evidence.'”

Dr. Stevens explained, “What we should learn from this experience is that while science itself is objective, scientists themselves can be biased and can mislead the public and policy makers.

Dr. Stevens added, “Many groups and individuals up until yesterday had relentlessly railed against abstinence programs as totally ineffective, even counterproductive. They had used their own studies to convince many legislators, including President Obama, to eliminate federal funding for abstinence programs altogether, in the process depriving teens and their parents from a potent resource that can mean a lifesaving difference.

“It turns out that when it comes to educating their children on matters of sex, Mom and Dad really do know best.”

Conservative writer Robert Rector at the Heritage Foundation also commented on the new report at National Review.

While abstinence helped students, he wrote: “By contrast, safe sex (promoting only contraceptive use) and comprehensive sex ed (teaching both abstinence and contraceptive use) programs didn’t affect youth behavior at all. Students in these programs showed no reduction in sexual activity and no increase in contraceptive use, in either the short or long term.”

“Employing state-of-the-art evaluation techniques, the study used random assignment to place students into four groups: a group that received instruction solely in abstinence; a safe-sex group instructed in contraceptive use; a comprehensive, or mixed message, group taught both abstinence and contraceptive use; and a control group that received health education unrelated to sex,” he noted.

Students in the abstinence program were one third less likely to initiate sexual activity when compared to students in the other three groups. They also were not less likely to use condoms if they did become sexually active.

“By contrast, safe sex and comprehensive sex-ed classes had no effect on student behavior; students in these classes did not reduce sexual activity nor increase contraceptive use when compared to the control group,” Rector said.

The study was conducted by Drs. John and Loretta Jemmott of the University of Pennsylvania.

“Prior to the current study, there had been 15 scientific evaluations of abstinence education, 11 of which had shown that abstinence programs were effective in reducing sexual activity,” Rector noted. “However, the new Jemmott study is the first evaluation showing positive results which employed full random assignment. As a result, it cannot be dismissed on methodological grounds.”

According to a report in Reuters Health, African-American sixth- and seventh-graders who completed the eight-hour program, which involved a series of brief activities and games (and no lecturing), were one-third less likely to start having sex in the next two years compared to their peers who took part in a similar program that targeted health issues unrelated to sex.

“The evidence is solid, and it’s new, because this has never been done before,” says Dr. John B. Jemmott III of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, who helped conduct the new study and design the intervention, along with his wife Dr. Loretta S Jemmott and their colleague Dr. Geoffrey T. Fong of the University of Waterloo in Ontario.

Despite the massive amounts of money the United States has poured into promoting abstinence-until-marriage programs, there have been only a handful of flawed studies investigating the effectiveness of such programs, the investigators note.

These federally supported programs – initiated during the Clinton years at the behest of Congress – follow a series of guidelines focusing on the importance of abstaining from sex until marriage, and underscoring the allegedly harmful physical and psychological effects of premarital sex and out-of-wedlock childbirth.

“They’re not based on an understanding of the motivation of children to have sex or to practice abstinence, and that’s what this intervention was based on,” John Jemmott said.

He and his colleagues designed their program using techniques proven to help adolescents avoid risky behaviors like cigarette smoking, drinking and drug use.

Classes were conducted in groups of six to 12 children, with activities that included listing the pros and cons of abstinence versus the pros and cons of having sex.

“This activity is in the context of a whole intervention that begins with a consideration of what are their goals and dreams for the future, where do they see themselves five years from now, where do they see themselves 10 years from now,” Jemmott explained.

These and similar activities, he said, help young people realize on their own that abstinence is likely to be the better choice. Other activities included role-playing and games designed to help participants understand and resist peer pressure.

Jemmott and his team assigned 662 children to this program; an eight-hour “safer sex only” program designed to promote condom use; an eight- or 12-hour intervention combining both approaches; or a control group in which children underwent an eight-hour educational program on health issues unrelated to sex.

Among the 132 boys and girls who completed the abstinence-only program, about a third said they started having sex within the following 24 months, compared to half of the 129 control group participants. Around 20 percent of the abstinence-only group reported having sex during the past three months, compared to around 30 percent of the control group.

One criticism leveled at abstinence-until-marriage programs is that they discourage condom use and put kids at greater risk of sexually transmitted disease if they do decide to have sex, Jemmott said. But the current study found no evidence that the abstinence-only program had any effect on condom use. Students who participated in the comprehensive programs were slightly less likely than control group participants to report having multiple partners.

Getting young people to hold off on having sex can have major beneficial consequences down the road, Jemmott noted; it reduces their risk of contracting sexually transmitted disease and getting pregnant, while the older someone is when they do have sex for the first time, the more likely they will be to use contraceptives.

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, February 2010.

Who is Right about Condoms? The Pope or the President?

It is being reported that in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2010 Proposed Budget, the president recommends that Congress eliminate funding for abstinence education and instead pour funds into condoms and contraceptive-based sex education. At the same time, another report asserts that physicians are now confirming the Pope’s contention that “statistics prove condoms ineffective against HIV/AIDS. Who is right?

More Information: Continue reading

Teen survey shows virginity pledges can work

 

USA Today is reporting a three-year RAND Corp. study showing that virginity pledges do deter some teens from having sex. Of 1,517 adolescents ages 12 to 17 in 2001 when the research began, teenagers who vowed to remain virgins until they were married were less likely to be sexually active than others who didn’t make a pledge.

About one-quarter of the adolescents surveyed (23.8%) made a promise to wait until marriage to have sex; 34% had broken it by 2004, compared with 42% of those who didn’t make the pledge and had sex during that time. Continue reading