Research Unkind to Abstinence-Only Approaches

Abstinence.jpg Since 1998, the federal government has offered $50 million annually in abstinence-only funding to each state, to be matched with state funds at a rate of 75%. This despite evidence which demonstrates the efficacy of this approach.

To the contrary, a major new study funded by Congress and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, shows that youth in abstinence programs were no more likely to have abstained from intercourse than those in control groups, had sex at the same mean age (Lordy, Lordy -- 14.9 years), and had the same number of partners.

According to Youth Today, abstinence proponents argue that the results mean little because the evaluation studied only four programs (albeit with more than 2,000 participants), that these programs did not extend into high schools, and that they began when the programs were still “in their infancy.”

That’s why they’ve banded together in recent months to establish the National Abstinence Education Association and have hired the PR firm, Creative Response Concepts, which was responsible for the “swift boat” ads that helped defeat John Kerry in the 2004 presidential election.

While I’m the last one to argue that more charitable resources be spent on evaluation, and the first to admit statistics can be readily distorted, I don’t understand why this or any other program gets scaled by the federal government when it is not backed by solid research. Call me na├»ve…

Susan Herr

Posted at 6:00 AM, Jun 14, 2007 in Youth | Permalink | Comments (2)


Sounds like it's time to abstain from these kinds of programs.

Posted by: Bruce Trachtenberg

If you get a chance, you should read this. Maybe we shouldn't abstain from such programs after all. At the very least, the effectiveness of these programs, or lack there of, can be quantified. How do you quantify the effect that money donated to say... an environmentalist group, has on improving the condition of the environment? I definitely do not want the government to throw away money on ineffective programs, but from what I've seen from this site, there are a select few causes that are championed. Any causes supported from the other end of the political spectrum are mocked or just ignored entirely.

Posted by: Carl Scott