Abstinence Educator: News Reports Misrepresent Programs’ Effectiveness

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 31, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Abstinence Educator: News Reports Misrepresent Programs’ Effectiveness

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
July 31,

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — A leading abstinence educator says news reports on the debate between abstinence and sexual education have misrepresented the effectiveness of programs telling kids about the benefits of waiting to have sex. She says the media has been too quick to rely on one-sided reports blasting abstinence.

Valerie Huber, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association, wrote a counterpoint op-ed appearing on Monday in USA Today.

The editorial, which opposes the views of the newspaper’s editors, says abstinence has "been repeatedly misrepresented in the media."

Huber condemns the recent "narrow" report issued by Mathmatica as evidence that abstinence education doesn’t work, but she says the report’s own researchers cautioned about extrapolating any policy decisions from it.

"A principal researcher of the study states results shouldn’t be used to draw sweeping conclusions, in part because the study evaluated only four of 700 abstinence programs," Huber explains. "The relatively new programs targeted young adolescents and provided no follow-up."

Huber says the real analysis one can glean from the report is that targeting youth at only young ages is not enough and that, as with any health message directed and young people, abstinence must be reinforced throughout the teen years.

Huber says other studies show so-called "’comprehensive’ programs do little more than promote contraceptive use, spending less than 5% of their course time promoting abstinence."

She pointed to a recent Health and Human Services study that found sex-ed programs "exaggerate the effectiveness of condoms and encourage a false sense of protection."

Other studies, such as one in Georgia, found teen pregnancy rates have been cut in half, dropping for 11 straight years since the state mandated abstinence education.

In contrast, Huber says abstinence programs "offer a holistic approach, teaching teens how to build healthy relationships, increase self-worth and set appropriate boundaries in order to achieve future goals."

"Abstinence education shares the realities of sexually transmitted diseases and the best way to prevent them," she added.

Huber concludes saying that parents are the best indicator of what works for their children.

"Not surprisingly, a recent Zogby survey shows that when parents understand what abstinence vs. ‘comprehensive’ sex education actually teaches, they prefer abstinence education by a 2-1 margin," she said.