NEA Teacher’s Group Attacks Abstinence Education Programs in Report

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 4, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

NEA Teacher’s Group Attacks Abstinence Education Programs in Report Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 4
, 2006

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s largest teacher’s group is attacking abstinence education programs in a new report it co-sponsored. The attack is designed to persuade Congressional lawmakers to cut funding for abstinence education, which studies have shown is achieving its intended results in reducing sex and teen pregnancies.

The National Education Association (NEA) and the anti-abstinence group SIECUS co-sponsored the new report, its fourth annual one attacking abstinence programs.

The report reviews abstinence education curriculum and claims it is "riddled with messages of fear and shame, gender stereotypes, and medical misinformation that put young people at risk."

"These reviews provide an excellent portrait of the types of abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula used in programs funded by the federal government," said William Smith, vice president for public policy at SIECUS.

The groups reviewed WAIT (Why Am I Tempted?) Training, Why kNOw, and Heritage Keepers, three abstinence-only-until-marriage programs located in more than a dozen states across the nation that have received more than $6 million in federal funding.

The NEA-SEICUS report slams the programs for encouraging students to have sex only after marriage, to be concerned about the failure rates of condoms and other forms of birth control to dress modestly, and to know about the basics of fetal development.

However, a study conducted by a University of Pennsylvania researcher in August found that teaching abstinence education to young teenagers in public schools reduces their sexual behavior. The study found that abstinence helped delay the starting point at which teenagers begin having sexual relations.

The Penn researchers studied 662 African-American students in 6th and 7th grade from inner-city schools in Philadelphia.

They found that those who were taught abstinence were less likely to have had sexual relations in a 24 month followup compared to those who were taught about safer sex through the use of condoms but didn’t mention abstinence.

Meanwhile, a June 2005 study by the US Department of Health and Human Services reveals that abstinence education works.

According to the interim report, teens who participated in abstinence programs had an increased awareness of the potential consequences of sexual activity before marriage, thought more highly of abstinent behaviors, and less favorable opinions about sexual activity before marriage than did students who were not in abstinence programs.

"Students who are in these [abstinence education] programs are recognizing that abstinence is a positive choice," HHS Assistant Secretary Michael O’Grady said.

"Abstinence education programs that help our young people address issues of healthy relationships, self-esteem, decision-making, and effective communications are important to keeping them healthy and safe," O’Grady added.

Polls also show that Americans strongly back abstinence education programs.

A January 2004 Zogby International poll showed that, out of the 1,004 parents surveyed across the nation, 96 percent said abstinence is best for teens.

Only 39.9 percent thought that abstinence and contraception should be combined in a single class.

ACTION: Send you complaints about the NEA’s attack on abstinence to: NEA, 1201 16th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036-3290. (p) (202) 833-4000, (f) (202) 822-7974. You can also use the email feedback form located at the bottom of