On July 23rd the North County Times published an editorial written by a Fallbrook High School student that last spring was pulled from the school newspaper by the school principal. The article was a grammatically well-written piece about sex education.
Specifically, the piece decried “abstinence only” programs that are “ideologically, rather than empirically, driven” and faulted the Bush Administration for “forcing” such programs on state and local governments.
The editorial also cited a 2007 study by Mathematica Policy Research to show that abstinence-only programs are ineffective and that “comprehensive” sex-ed programs effectively reduce behaviors that put teenagers at risk of STDs and unintended pregnancy.
While the editorial probably wasn’t pulled from the school newspaper for this reason, most "real-world" editors require documentation (whether included in the piece or not) that vouches for the accuracy of a column’s factual assertions. On those grounds a conscientious editor would have had good reason for deep-sixing the aforementioned article.
One major inaccuracy was the assertion that abstinence-based sex education is a policy being “forced” on schools throughout the country by the Bush Administration. In point of fact this Title V Program began in 1996 (under President Clinton) and isn’t “forced” on anyone.
Rather, it’s a relatively small program that has annually devoted 50 to 150 million dollars to this grant-based project. Ironically, these grants have been rejected by the state of California, and various data suggest that most schools employ more “comprehensive” sex-ed formats—some of the “abstinence-plus” variety.
The article also fails to disclose that its Mathematica study only analyzed four outdated abstinence programs where instruction ended in middle school. Nor does the piece mention that the study showed (not surprisingly under the circumstances) no significant difference between the abstinence cohort and the “comprehensive” sex-ed group.
At worst, this dubious finding suggests that short-lived abstinence-based programs are no less effective than the morality-free sex-ed programs designed by groups like SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the United States), an institution closely associated with the ideologically-driven and fraudulent scientist, Alfred Kinsey. (I direct readers to Dr. Judith Reisman’s exhaustive work on Kinsey.)
To give folks a sense of SIECUS’s ideological baggage, the organization’s first President, Planned Parenthood’s Mary Calderone, once diminished the moral significance of pedophilia by declining to call it “bad” or “wicked.” Later, in 1980, SIECUS published a report entitled “Attacking the Last Taboo.” That article stated that “we are roughly in the same position today regarding incest as we were a hundred years ago with respect to our fears of masturbation.” In short, SIECUS is insanely amoral.
Given that the Federal Forum on Child and Family Statistics last year reported a significant decline in sexual activity among high school students since 1991 (54 to 46%) and given that condom use simultaneously increased among sexually active teens (46 to 63%), I’d be inclined to reinforce both these trends with abstinence-plus programs rather than impose on students morally vacuous curricula designed by the likes of SIECUS.