Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma, Tonga

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Putting the "tin" in "abstinence"

If it weren't for the fact that some nice kids are going to suffer real consequences of pregnancy and/or sexually-transmitted diseases (and the subsequent consequences of both conditions), it would be fun to laugh at this headline:

Texas Teens Increased Sex After Abstinence Program
The first paragraph is completely misleading:

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Abstinence-only sex education programs, a major plank in President Bush (news - web sites)'s education plan, have had no impact on teenagers' behavior in his home state of Texas, according to a new study.

Wrong answer. Those programs may have been at least partially responsible for a rise in the number of sexually-active teens.

Despite taking courses emphasizing abstinence-only themes, teenagers in 29 high schools became increasingly sexually active, mirroring the overall state trends, according to the study conducted by researchers at Texas A&M University.

Those radicals down in College Station are trying to undermine delusion in the interest of science.

Abstinence-only programs --and Bush's support for those programs (along with their international counterparts in the anti-HIV campaign) have been pure gold for the President and the Republicans. The consistent message-- that non-marital sex is bad-- has helped to solidify the support and funding of social and religious conservatives.

Need another reason to shrink government? There are more radicals in Texas hiding in the bureaucracy. Probably "evidence-based" heretics.

The study was delivered to the Texas Department of State Health Services, which commissioned it.

The money usually goes back to the social conservatives, though. They design the programs.

The federal government is expected to spend about $130 million to fund programs advocating abstinence in 2005, despite a lack of evidence that they work, Pruitt said.

Here is the nub of the study.

The study showed about 23 percent of ninth-grade girls, typically 13 to 14 years old, had sex before receiving abstinence education. After taking the course, 29 percent of the girls in the same group said they had had sex.

Boys in the tenth grade, about 14 to 15 years old, showed a more marked increase, from 24 percent to 39 percent, after receiving abstinence education.

So the gold circulates from social and religious conservatives to campaign coffers, while tax dollars make the journey back to the conservatives and their abstinence-only programs. The rest of us don't get our education tax dollars' worth, and our teenagers get the cheap stuff.

As Dr. Buzz Pruitt, the study's director, said, "These programs seem to be much more concerned about politics than kids, and we need to get over that."

We need to "get over that" quickly, before we end up with a bunch of wooden nickles.