Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Abstinence education

...even in 1990s Texas, where Mr Bush spent $10m a year on abstinence education, the state had the fifth highest teen pregnancy rate in the US. Over the past six years he has stepped up the programme to more than $100m a year. He recently braved ridicule by extending it to adults aged 20-29, an age range in which 90% of people are sexually active.

The fact that abstinence education doesn't work does not fill me with joy, even though I had a feeling it wouldn't work--now the research shows that. I do not want teenagers having sex any more than my right wing compatriots. But when more than $1 billion of federal money has been spent on promoting abstinence since 1998 - posters printed, television advertisements broadcast and entire education programs devised for hundreds of thousands of girls and boys, we have to try something different. Please let's stop throwing money down this sinkhole.

Maybe the problem is that abstinence education isn't designed to work. Maybe it's not really a policy decision--rather, it's a decision meant to align with certain religious principles. That's fine, I suppose. But the policy still needs to work. And it doesn't. So let's stop it and maybe try something new.

Read the article here.

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