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Teen Pregnancy On The Rise – Abstinence Only Programs Failing Our Children

Posted by Catherine Morgan on December 8, 2007

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Teen Pregnancy On The Rise – Abstinence Only Programs Failing Our Children — by Catherine Morgan (cross-posted at BlogHer)

I was shocked to read a headline this week, that the rate of teen births is on the rise.

The rate had been steadily declining since 1991, after an intense educational campaign, that included contraception, condom use, and the risk of Aids and sexually transmitted disease. But now, for the first time in 14 years, statistics show a 3% increase in teens having babies.

How could that be? Could it be that sex education programs aren’t working very well? Actually, the sex-ed programs were working just fine, until the Bush administration began diverting funds from them to abstinence only programs.

It doesn’t take a sexologist to explain why abstinence only isn’t an effective means of sex education. But just in case, here is Logan Levkoff of Third Base Ain’t What It Used To Be

Hmmm…looks like abstinence only programs don’t work. Oh, have I said that before? Sounds familiar, but now there is a new study that is saying the same thing. Last week, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy released a study confirming that ab-only programs don’t delay sex. Even more exciting, the review of teenage sexual behavior also concluded that comprehensive sexuality education does delay the initiation of sex, reduces a teen’s number of sex partners, and increases condom and contraceptive usage. Hurray!

Needless to say, this is terrific news. So I ask you all this: Why have we spent over $1.5 billion in the last ten years on abstinence only? And why is Congress even considering a bill to spend another $141 million on it?

It seems to me that with teen pregnancy on the rise, this would prove that abstinence-only programs are not working. However, instead of recognizing the failure of these programs, the Bush administration is increasing funding.

Ideology, not science, has been driving America’s response to the twin epidemics of teen pregnancy and STD/HIV infections. Funding for abstinence-only censorship programs is dramatically increasing. All told, abstinence-only programs have received over half a billion dollars in federal funds since 1997, and the Bush administration requested yet another sharp increase to $204 million for fiscal year 2007. By 2009, President Bush proposes that funding for abstinence-only programs reach $270 million.

This huge investment of taxpayer funds in abstinence-only programs conflicts with scientific and medical research: abstinence-only programs are not proven effective and may in fact result in riskier behavior by teenagers. Responsible sex education programs, on the other hand, have demonstrated positive results such as delayed initiation of sex, reduced frequency of sex, and increased contraceptive use. — read full article here

Parents really shouldn’t be relying totally on schools to teach their children about sex anyway. It’s not any easy subject to talk about with our children, but it is very important that we do (especially given this latest information on teen pregnancy). Here is a site that seems to include all aspects of sex education…Teensource, and here is one on talking to you kids about sex.

This is from a post by Susan (a parent coach)…

Don’t wait too long to have these conversations. Kids are experimenting with sex and drugs earlier and earlier. The younger you start the easier it will be to continue bringing it up. A great conversation starter might be after you and your child have seen a movie with sex or drugs being part of the content. “What did you think about that movie? What did you think about the choices that Josie made? What would you have done? Do you have any questions about anything that you saw?”

If your child ignores you or doesn’t want to talk about it don’t give up. Keep looking for opportunities to bring up those uncomfortable issues. Soon you will notice that it isn’t so awkward after all!

From Moms Speak Up

In May, according to NPR, “Democratic Rep. John Dingell, chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, made it clear that Democrats do not intend to re-fund a $50 million grant program for abstinence-only sex education. Dingell says he considers the funded programs ‘a colossal failure.’”

“Democrats would still include money for abstinence teachings in schools, but would combine it with comprehensive sex-ed program* that would teach about birth control and other safe sex methods.” (Click here to read the full USA Today article.)

The abstinence-only grant was set to expire on June 30, 2007.

However, despite Democrat statements and the factual studies that revealed the fallibility and lack of efficacy of abstinence-only education, in June, the U.S. House Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations voted to increase federal funding for community based abstinence-only education programs (CBAE) in this country by $27.8 million.

In November, the increase amount was officially set at $28 million for a grand total of $141 million. President Bush would like that amount increased to $204 million for 2008.

Could this be what Bush has in mind?

An easy solution to the problem of teen pregnancy.

If we just had a couple more million to add some critical “family values” classes along with the “abstinence only” program, it wouldn’t matter that the teen birth rate is increasing. It would go something like this…High school counselors could stop pushing college on everyone (it’s getting awfully expensive anyway), and instead they could encourage parenting classes. Picture this…The “advanced placement” pregnant teens could take classes in wedding planning. This could even help solve the divorce problem in our country…With no education and just their husband to count on, these women would be virtually trapped in their marriages, with no possibility of getting a divorce or making it on their own.

Seriously, we are really taking major steps backward these days…even our life expectancy is going down.

What do you think about these new statistics? How do you feel about our government spending millions of tax dollars for abstinence only programs? Do you think the schools should be teaching sex educations? Do you talk openly with your kids about sex?

An open question to the candidates: How will you address the problem of teen pregnancy if you are elected president?

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at CatherineBlogs.com and The Political Voices of Women

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12 Responses to “Teen Pregnancy On The Rise – Abstinence Only Programs Failing Our Children”

  1. According to the Heritage Foundation (www.heritage.org), the Comprehensive Sexuality Education ideology receives 12 times the funding of abstinence education programs. Interesting statistic you don’t hear in the mainstream media everyday. Somehow abstinence education gets the blame when things go the wrong way, but doesn’t get the credit when they go the right direction. More details on my blog at http://gigsby.wordpress.com/2007/12/03/planned-parenthood-attacks-abstinence-funding/

  2. What do you think about these new statistics?
    There are a lot of things which encourage teenagers to do things. For example celebrities….
    Do you think the schools should be teaching sex educations?
    Yes.
    Do you talk openly with your kids about sex?
    Everyone must talk about it with their kids and share information about AIDS and STD.

    Most of the parents today don’t have close communication with their teen and become puzzled when their child turns into an argumentative teenager.

  3. radha said

    there is too much talking, showing, informing, educating about sex. Too much. And probably this is one of the reason why the phenomena of early parenting continue to spread. We have to find other way if we really want to stop. we created it and we are perpetuing it. we should introspect much much more and find solution from within.

  4. Ruben said

    >>It seems to me that with teen pregnancy on the rise, this would prove that abstinence-only programs are not working.

    Very interesting, especially since the dataset that shows teen pregnancy is on the rise does not indicate why.

    Had the data indicated that less teens abstained, or that less contraception was used, you might be able to draw some conclusions – but the data does not indicate anything of the sort, which is why you can’t possibly make your statement with any amount of credibility.

    At best your statement is inaccurate, at worst it is irresponsible to read something out of the data which simply isn’t there.

    Next time, read the data before you draw your conclusions..

  5. With all due respect “Ruben”, there is more than just one piece of data on this issue, and I am certainly not the only person who has come to this conclusion. I don’t have an “agenda” here, this is just my blog, and my opinions on women’s issues. However, in the interest of full disclosure, I would like to point out that it seems you (and your organization) do have an agenda. This is from your “about” page…

    No Room for Contraception (NRFC) is an effort to expose the potential harms that contraception, birth control and sterilization bring to marriage and society. NRFC believes that the greatest goods of the sexual act are both the procreation of children and the union of the spouses.

    The use of contraception has created a society that does not welcome children as the natural outcome of the sexual act. Many scholars, scientists, clergy, married couples, counselors and others have referred to this concept as the “contraceptive mentality”.

    Chemical contraceptives, furthermore, are dangerous to women’s health. One recent study highlighted the adverse sexual side effects and the World Health Organization recently declared combined estrogen-progestogen carcinogenic to humans. Though contraceptives are frequently used for purposes other than birth control, these adverse side effects ought not be overlooked.

    While some purport that contraception enables a couple to ‘carefully plan’ the births of their children, the use of a barrier or chemical rather than abstinence from the marital act redefines the function and purpose of sexual intercourse. On the other hand, periodic abstinence from relations during the wife’s fertile time, known as Natural Family Planning (NFP) can enhance the couple’s relationship because it allows them to find other ways to appreciate and love each other.

    The advent of chemical contraceptive such as the pill and IUD also contributed to earlier and more frequent sexual encounters. NRFC is not only opposed to the use of contraception within marriage, but also before and outside if marriage. The constant promotion of and use of contraception leads to promiscuity, and a general lowering of morality and furthers the idea the sex has nothing to do with childbearing or commitment. When this attitude is brought into marriage, it can taint the relationship from the beginning.

    The modern birth control movement began around the turn of the 20th century. The champion of this movement was Margaret Sanger, founder of the Planned Parenthood. The original philosophy behind the modern birth control movement was that the pregnancies of unwanted children would be prevented and therefore contraception would contribute to the good of society. Contraception was promoted as a means of reducing births among the poor, minorities or sickly.

    The convenience of contraception was quickly accepted by persons of all socio-economic backgrounds, and its use became widespread. In law and in practice, this led to the necessity of abortion because contraception proved not to be failsafe. In their 1992 decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, the United States Supreme Court stated:

    [F]or two decades of economic and social developments, people have organized intimate relationships and made choices that define their views of themselves and their places in society, in reliance on the availability of abortion in the event that contraception should fail. (505 U.S. 833, 857)

    NRFC provides education information such as articles, opinions from the US Supreme Court, documents of the Catholic Church, links to information on Natural Family Planning, studies, and more. Please check back often as the site will be updated weekly!

  6. Amandarose said

    But i want to know do you think that now planned parenthood has given protection, for example a condom, that teens are saying oh well you can use a condom. Doesn’t that generate teens minds that they can have sex more often now. I would really like to know about that factor.
    An answer in need

  7. simone said

    I like that NBC is spreading a good message to teens about not getting pregnant. I will have my brothers and sisters watch this show. I think it starts on June 25th at 9pm!

  8. […] through birth control, and, I would argue, through more comprehensive sex education. My mantra is echoed by those left of center, but I am still amused that the so-called “family values” […]

  9. Wayne Johnson said

    Although the validity of the argument you present is most likely correct in the sex-obsessed culture in which we live, I would like to state the following (not arguing against your point by the way): there is a major double-standard in effect. Whilst sexual education on the whole in America’s educational system is not comprised solely of abstinence-only training, it is this type of training which gets a bad rap. (Even though it is the only form of absolute birth control…and no, I’m NOT a right-wing zealot). There are many other factors involved, such as the media’s glorification of sex and its willingness to depict teen pregnancy in a less-than-negative light (vis a vis ‘Juno’). Basically my message is this: America is full of double standards…models show that to be thin is right but the foods available are fattening and unhealthy. Sex is glamourous and fun, so why not begin as soon as possible…actions have consequences and frankly, the rise in sexual promiscuity can be blamed on everyone from the media down to the individuals perpetrating these sexual acts. All I can say is this: when I didn’t have sex, I didn’t get a woman pregnant, and didn’t get a sexually transmitted disease. At the end of the day, perhaps parents, whose own sexual acts created these young people, should be educating their children on sex, not leaving it up to the state to do. That way, the real effects and ramifications could be learnt from real people where they are obvious and visible rather than an institution where it is merely a concept.

  10. samara diesel said

    i think that parents should not be even allowing their children to keep the baby because the whole country gets penalized because a stupid teen cant keep her legs crossed there is no reason why parents should be allowing their children to keep the kid because they wind up responsible for it the kid doesnt do much because shes got to finish school n has to work as well so the mom n dad have to sacrifice their lives inoreder to raise their daughters child teen babies should be taken from their moms n those so called stupid teens should be forced to finish school go to college then get a real job then they should get their baby back or if they choose not to then the baby shouold be given to a family who deseves a child and can take care of it why should an innocent child be given to a teen family who doesnt deserve a child because teens who have sex just have no real relationship or nothing else better to do with eachother and should be put away for education or if a teen mother keeps the child the parent of the daughter should not take any type of responsibility for the child the mom n dad should there is no reason either why when a boy gets a girl pregnant he should be able to run away from it he should have to stick with the mom n the chuld for good to raise that child

  11. […] – Kids and parenting- msnbc.com Report: Teen pregnancies up for first time in 15 years – CNN.com Teen Pregnancy On The Rise – Abstinence Only Programs Failing Our Children women 4 hope Teen Pregnancy statistics, signs, facts teenage pregnancy prevention Here’s a longer study in […]

  12. […] through birth control, and, I would argue, through more comprehensive sex education. My mantra is echoed by those left of center, but I am still amused that the so-called “family values” proponents […]

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