The press, mostly aging baby boomers who look back fondly to their salad days in the golden dawn of the sexual revolution, were positively giddy over recent report alleging that abstinence-only programs don’t work.
As columnist Mona Charen reports:
“The Washington Post noted that the report ’sparked an immediate, bitter debate over the wisdom of teaching premarital abstinence.’ Bill Smith, vice president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, crowed, ’Not only do virginity pledges not work to keep our young people safe, they are causing harm by undermining condom use, contraception and medical treatment.’
“A Nexis search of the words ’abstinence,’ ’pledge’ and ’STDs’ brought up 60 hits for the past 90 days, beginning with the Village Voice’s contribution ’F— Abstinence’ and ranging through the big networks and major newspapers.”
Dubbing this attitude the “condoms on cucumbers school of thought,” Charen points out two interesting facts: that the study in question actually revealed very little about abstinence programs–it found only that abstinence pledges alone “are of limited (but not zero) utility”–and the same, and that the same people who cheered this study have chosen to ignore one that supports the utility of abstinence-only programs.
The ignored study dealt with the Best Friends Program, an abstinence-based program for girls, and appeared in the Journal of Adolescent and Family Health. Here is some of Charen’s summary of what the study found:
“Best Friends (there is a companion program for boys called Best Men) began in Washington, D.C., in 1987 and has since expanded to serve 24 cities in 15 states. Beginning in fifth grade, girls are initiated into a school-based program with teachers and other school personnel serving as mentors and with the girls themselves offering a positive and mutually reinforcing peer group….
“The results of the program have been dramatic. Compared with District of Columbia girls of comparable age, income, race and family structure examined in the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS), Best Friends girls were eight times less likely than others to use drugs. They were six times less likely than YRBS girls to engage in premarital sex. Among eighth-graders, 65.6 percent of Best Friends girls abstained from alcohol, compared to only 37.3 percent of YRBS youngsters….”
You won’t read about this study in the MSM.