It aint necessarily so

Federally funded abstinence education programs tell students things that just aint so, concludes a report by Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat.

Many youngsters participating in federally financed, abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half of gay male teenagers have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person’s genitals “can result in pregnancy,” a congressional analysis found.

Those and other assertions are examples of the “false, misleading, or distorted information” in the programs’ teaching materials, said the analysis released yesterday, which reviewed the curricula of more than a dozen popular projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.

Of 13 widely used curricula, only two present accurate information, the report says. One program declared a 43-day-old fetus is a “thinking person.”

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Comments

  1. While the rest sounds nutty, I have read that women who’ve had abortions for several months afterwards have a very high suicide rate. I’ve also read that too many abortions or an improperly performed abortion can definitely impair fertility and the ability to carry a child to term.

  2. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Let’s look at some of the sex ed programs for scientific backing of their advocacy of practices that carry a non-zero risk of STD or unwanted pregnancy.

  3. Richard Nieporent says:

    I do not know the accuracy of the information that is presented in the abstinence-only programs. However, given the source of this report, I would not take it at face value. Henry Waxman is not the most reliable source I can think of for any information. He is an extreme partisan and has been known to stretch the truth in the past.

    I also wonder how accurate is the information presented in sex education courses that do not advocate abstinence. One thing I do know for sure is that we will never see a report from Henry Waxman that critiques those programs.

  4. Steve LaBonne says:

    Henry Waxman has a lot more credibility than the Bush Administration, which has ignored / perverted / lied about competent scientific advice on an unprecedented scale. Just as with their treatment of the CIA and other intelligence organizations in the runup to Iraq (and the purge going on now to make sure the CIA will toe the party line faithfully in the future), this administration will never, ever let inconvenient facts get in the way of ideology.

  5. Richard Nieporent says:

    Steve, your Bush hatred is showing. Would you like to enlighten us about how the Bush administration has lied about competent scientific advice on an unprecedented scale, or are you just regurgitating the Democrat talking points? Just because you do not agree with the decisions made by the Bush administration, does not mean that they have “ignored science”. We already went though all of these accusations before the election. Unfortunately for you, your side lost.

    As to your comment about the CIA, it is truly laughable. First we are told that the CIA screwed up and gave the Bush administration the wrong information about WMDs in Iraq. Now, when the Bush administration makes a change, suddenly the CIA is considered to be a paragon of truth that provided the Bush administration with perfectly accurate information. So which is it? Were they correct in their assessment before about WMDs or not? And if they were wrong, why do you oppose making a change in leadership?

  6. Steve LaBonne says:

    Oh, stow it. These stupid accusations of “Bush hatred” every time someone points out an area where the Bush Admin. has screwed up are childish and merely betray an inability to engage in any kind of critical thought. For your information I had serious problems with both candidates in the recent election, and though I ultimately held my nose and voted for Kerry, at various times I seriously considered voting for Bush or sitting the election out.

  7. Walter E. Wallis says:

    Does anyone know where I can buy a Waxman doll, complete with pins?

    If the Bush administration does nothing more than protect the United States economy from the voodoo science of Kyoto, they will have earned their keep. Science that lies, even in a good cause, is wrong. Often the cause for which the Aquarian Age scientists lied was not good.

  8. I went through an abstinence-only program in Georgia Public schools in the late 1990’s. The one time birth control measures were mentioned, it was to tell us exaggerated failure rates. We were also never told what a failure rate actually meant; I learned later that it refers to the rate of failure over the course of a year. So when students mistakenly think that a condom has a 20% chance of failure every time they have sex, it seems like it’s barely better than using nothing at all. The result: a lot of unnecessary abortions and pregnant girls in my graduating class.

  9. Richard Brandshaft says:

    “Let’s look at some of the sex ed programs for scientific backing of their advocacy of practices that carry a non-zero risk of STD or unwanted pregnancy.”

    Equivalent sentence: “Let’s look at all the laws and propaganda advocating seat belts, even though seat belt wearers have a non-zero risk of getting killed in traffic.”

    Conservatives. Gotta love their logic.

  10. Richard Nieporent says:

    Steve, you did not simply point out an area where the Bush administration screwed up. What you said was ” the Bush Administration, which has ignored / perverted / lied about competent scientific advice on an unprecedented scale”. When you engage in such hyperbole, then it is reasonable to conclude that you have more than a simple policy difference with the Bush administration.

  11. Richard Nieporent says:

    I am certainly not in favor of misinformation being presented on either side of this controversy. However, I find it hard to believe that the most sexually active students (who are most likely the worst students in the school) are suddenly paying attention in class and actually learning this misinformation. Second, I have a hard time believing that these students (or for that matter most students) understand probability and statistics well enough to know the difference between a 20% failure rate over a year vs. a single time. But most of all, I have a hard time believing that when their hormones are raging they will stop what they are doing to make sure that they are properly protected. After all, these are teenagers we are talking about. Responsible behavior is not high up on the list of attributes that one equates with teenagers.

  12. The less intelligent students, who, according to “The Bell Curve”, have the great majority of teen pregnancies, will never listen to abstinence education. The more intelligent students don’t need it, but I am glad that it is out there, asking young people to respect themselves and think about their futures instead of glorifying self-indulgence as “traditional” sex ed programs do. Young Americans are not amoral animals and it is wrong to treat them as though they were.

  13. “But most of all, I have a hard time believing that when their hormones are raging they will stop what they are doing to make sure that they are properly protected. ”

    Hormones don’t stop raging when you turn 21. The difference between teenagers and premenopausal adults is not their hormones or their intelligence, but that the adults are living on their own dime with no one to bail them out and have much more at stake.

    “Second, I have a hard time believing that these students (or for that matter most students) understand probability and statistics well enough to know the difference between a 20% failure rate over a year vs. a single time”

    I know there’s no shortage of stupid people, but the majority of people are not that stupid. Most people know intuitively that doing something dangerous one time is going to be less risky than doing it over and over for a whole year. You can only press your luck for so long.

    (Anyway, I had understood that the actual figure was on the order of 10%. Combined with a second contraceptive method of similar effectiveness, you’re down to a 1% risk of pregnancy over an entire year. Of course you’ve got to do it every time, or the numbers change quite a bit…)

  14. “(Anyway, I had understood that the actual figure was on the order of 10%. Combined with a second contraceptive method of similar effectiveness, you’re down to a 1% risk of pregnancy over an entire year. Of course you’ve got to do it every time, or the numbers change quite a bit…)”

    That’s right. The failure rate of 20% applies when a condom is used incorrectly. They exaggerated to make it sound like the failure rate was 20% all of the time.

  15. Tim from Texas says:

    The youth that are “stupid” about sex and other things as well are “stupid” because they are not properly socialized by the adult community. For example, we make it law they can’t drink until the age of twenty-one, but we know the beer-booze-carrot is dangled before them on tv, at movies, and almost everywhere, but we expect them to wait.
    The same bad logic is applied to the realm of sexual activity. Sure, they will wait.

    Now, as to the use of condoms and the like, it is absolutely ridiculous to think they will be used often enough. Males don’t like them and females aren’t fond of them either. Let’s face it, the use of condoms thwarts most of the pleasing aspects of sexual activity.

    We don’t socialize our youth. We think we can manage our youth by telling them, “just say no”.
    You can see and hear everything about everything all the time, but to those “bad bad” things “just say no. And as for sex, we’ll throw some condoms at it. It is ridiculous.

  16. Tim from Texas says:

    For parents who home school, the dict. and repro.
    are especially useful. Use them and your child will become at least a good writer, if not an excellent one.

    Also another method which will work especially well for home-schooled youth is scribing. Have them just copy well written stories, essays, all sorts of well written materials, and novels, yes novels. have them copy them word for word, coma for coma, that is copy them exactly as written.

    It’s called scribing. It’s an ancient teaching and learning method and it works.

  17. Tim from Texas says:

    I’m losing it I suppose. I thought I was posting the above comment under Third R.

  18. Have no fear, Henry Waxman is here. Again. He walked tall and fearlessly down mainstreet, his pearl-handled Navy Colts strapped low on his hips, and gunned down “big tobacco,” shamlessly bilking them out of trillions of dollars. Now he’s ready to take on teen abstinence and free hundreds of thousands of teenagers from the most surefire way of not getting STDs or pregnant or jaded or losing their innocence. He’s got my vote for sheriff.

  19. I expect that sex-related abstinence-only programs will have the same amazing results as those drug-related abstinence-only programs: zero. Lying to children to get them to fear things is counterproductive when the truth comes out. And the truth always comes out. One joint won’t put anyone in the gutter as a strung-out heroin addict. One grope won’t lead anyone to prostitution and low-self-esteemville. Total prohibition fails because it is unreasonable, both in regard to desires and to reality.

    If we could tell children the truth, let them ask questions, and keep reasonable tabs on their whereabouts, they’ll probably turn out fine. And if they don’t, it’s probably because they make stupid decisions. Telling lies won’t help anyone make good decisions.