Abstinence Education Backers Say CDC Report Shows Success of Programs
by Steven Ertelt
November 6, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Data from an analysis conducted by the CDC shows positive evidence that abstinence education is delivering an effective message for teenagers. The report is prompting abstinence education advocates to call for more funding and pro-abstinence policies because abstinence is delaying sex among teens.
The CDC Task Force on Community Preventive Services, a 15-member body, ultimately reached no negative conclusions about abstinence.
They reviewed an analysis of 83 studies of sexual education programs run between 1980 and 2007 and, according to CDC official Randy Elder, determined there "was insufficient evidence" about whether abstinence programs work.
The positive results came from 10 different studies by six different authors.
Two members of the panel of consultants for the analysis reported that the abstinence education programs in the study produced a statistically significant reduction in teen sexual activity for periods averaging about one year.
They produced a minority report saying the majority of the panel dismissed these studies showing positive results for abstinence education.
Valerie Huber, the director of the National Abstinence Education Association, told LifeNews.com, that the panel should have concluded that abstinence programs are effective and comprehensive programs are not.
"If you compare the statistical significance of outcome measures related to sexual activity and sexual intiation the data is better for the abstinence education program than the comprehensive program," she said.
Huber said the policy implications for these findings argue for a continuation of abstinence education funding and raise questions about the advisability of ending such programs.
At a time when studies are showing progress, Huber is discouraged that Congress and the Obama Administration have zeroed out all funding for abstinence education in their 2010 budget.
"These positive findings should be incorporated in any policy designed to reduce teen sexual activity in our nation. This is a time to assess what is working and capitalize on solutions that make a difference in the lives of youth," she said.
The NAEA sincerely hopes that policymakers will be persuaded by scientific evidence. We need to reach teens," she said. "We need to find strategies that work, rather than fanning the flames of an ideological war over sex education. This research tells us that abstinence programs are helping teens delay sex.
The two members of the minority — Irene Erickson of the Institute for Research and Evaluation and Danielle Ruedt of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Children and Families — said the analysis shows comprehensive sexual education program in schools do not significantly increase teen condom use or reduce teen pregency or STDS.
"This is an important finding because the school classroom is where most teens receive sex education," they said.
"Furthermore, the data indicated that many types of [comprehensive] programs do not work, even in non-school settings, yet the recommendations do not identify what those are. Unfortunately, the report’s conclusion that comprehensive sex education programs are broadly effective simply ignores these findings. This is misleading to policy-makers who are seeking evidence-based programs, especially for schools," they argued.
Elder contains that conclusion is a misreading of the studies as a whole.
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