Saturday, April 14, 2007

Abstinence-Only Programs: Did They Fail?

A report released yesterday states that abstinence-only programs are (basically) ineffective--that children who go through those programs are just as likely to engage in non-marital sexual activity as those who do NOT go through the programs.

One of the abstinence programs was a Milwaukee effort: Families United to Prevent Teen

There will be lotsa stuff written about the study. But there are two interesting items which deserve some consideration in measuring 'effectiveness.'

In the Study's Executive Summary, we find:

An analysis of teen sexual activity, presented in Chapter VI of the report, finds that friends' support for abstinence is a significant predictor of future sexual abstinence.


...most Title V, Section 510 programs are completed before youth enter high school, when rates of sexual activity increase and many teens are either contemplating or having sex.

Finally, we find that three of the four programs studied have THIS in common about the students--they all come from:

Poor, single-parent, African American and Hispanic families.

Somehow, I'm not all that convinced that this study is necessarily representative...


jimspice said...

The sample need not be representative if proper statistical controls are in place. Check out page 48 of the research: consideration is, in fact, given to socio-economic (e.g. race, parents' marital status) data.

If you are still not convinced, simple binary variables are included for each program. The Powhaten My Choice My Future! program is fairly representative of the nation as a whole, racially speaking.

Still, beside higher awareness levels (i.e. effectiveness of condoms v. birth control pills in preventing STDs), the Powhaten program does not show lessened sexual activity for program participants (see the charts starting about page 101).

It's long, but skimmable.


Brother James said...

I imagine that the value of any parental input was ignored as well. I wonder if a parental advocacy of abstinence, in conjunction with school teaching, was a factor in the success of the minority cases.