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Federally-Funded Abstinence Programs Teach Misinformation

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posted on Dec, 7 2004 @ 04:23 PM
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The Waxman Report, a recent congressional staff analysis led by Rep. Henry A. Waxman, has revealed that many of the federally-funded abstinence-only sex-ed programs backed by the Bush administration and the Republican congress are rife with inaccuracies, subjective interpretations of data and biased information. The material was developed in part by evangelical Christian sources, and ignores scientific evidence and fact. Several million kids have already participated in these erroneous programs.

Some of the gems taught in these curricula as revealed by The Waxman Report include:

-A 43-day old fetus is a "thinking person." (can't see how this can be taught as fact)

-Half of the gay, male teenagers in the U.S. have tested positive for the AIDS virus. (absolutely false)

-HIV can be spread through exposure to sweat and tears. (completely untrue)

-Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse. (actually less than 3%)

-Taught as scientic fact is the opinion that "Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments." (This sexist garbage is actually written in a sex-ed textbook....)

-Women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion.

-Touching another persons genitals can result in pregnancy (there is an extremely slim chance, but the risk is exaggerated and the mechanics are not discussed. It is taught as if you get pregnant by just touching.)

-Some course materials present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support." (Ugh.)

-One textbook tells the story of a knight who married a village maiden instead of the princess because the princess offered so many tips on slaying the local dragon. "Moral of the story," notes the popular text: "Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess." (This is just beyond the pale...)

There is no hard evidence that abstinence programs work. Partisan sources tout their effectiveness, but can't link these programs to actual, quantifiable results. Non-partisan researchers find that the success rate of abstinence education is marginal. Teenage abortion rates have fallen, but that started before abstinence-only education was instituted in 1999 and may be attributed to more widespread condom use. A recent CDC study said that 61% of graduating seniors have had sex, which is not significantly lower than survey results from the early 90's. A Columbia University study found that although teens that take "virginity pledges" may wait longer to have sex, 88% of them eventually have premarital sex.

Obviously, abstinence is the only way to ensure that teens will not contract an STD or get pregnant, but when teens do have sex, accurate information regarding contraception and sexual health is needed. In an attempt to "put the fear of God" in teens regarding the consequences of having sex, these faith-based abstinence programs fail miserably at providing valid sex education. The result is that when teens inevitably do have sex (which the statistics show that they will), they are ill-prepared. If they are taught that condoms don't work, why would they use them? CDC survey results show that roughly 40% of teenagers still don't use condoms when having sex--isn't that a big problem?

$170 million was spent on these abstinence-only programs last year. Bush proposed increasing the budget for these "scare-tactics" programs to $270 million in 2005, but that was paired back to $168 million by Congress. Still, nearly $900 million is slated to be spent on teaching kids a faith-based view of sex ed over the next 5 years. This does nothing to address the problems of kids who are already having sex or teens that fall off the virginity wagon. I think that sex-ed based in reality is a better solution.

The backlash from the religious right has already begun, as they are trying to discredit Waxman's report by pulling out their rehashed partisan reports and claiming that he had ulterior motives, but I don't know how you can refute a teenager's textbook that makes erroneous claims that you can spread HIV through sweat or that half of gay teens in the US are HIV+. That is pretty black and white. Teaching opinion (not fact) based in religious beliefs, such as biased conjecture about the consequences of abortion and referring to the fetus as a person is also difficult to reconcile. The sexist teachings regarding a woman's role in society are just ridiculous and don't even belong in sex-ed classes (or any classes for that matter.) The intent here is clear--to make teens associate fear, shame and guilt with sex. Sounds like religion to me.

Sources:
www.washingtonpost.com...
www.latimes.com...
www.advocate.com.../07/04
www.newsday.com...
www.gfn.com...
www.cdc.gov...




posted on Dec, 7 2004 @ 06:00 PM
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Imgnyc,

Geat post. Though, I think some of the comments are taken out of context.



Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.


This is actually true for some types of condoms. Contemporary condems, on the other hand, have that 3% statistic.



"Women gauge their happiness and judge their success on their relationships. Men's happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments."

...

Some course materials present as scientific fact notions about a man's need for "admiration" and "sexual fulfillment" compared with a woman's need for "financial support

...

"Occasional suggestions and assistance may be alright, but too much of it will lessen a man's confidence or even turn him away from his princess."


Psychology journal articles and books often make odd claims such as these. It would be interesting to see that sex-ed's source for this claim.



Women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion.


Older data is often contradicted with newer data. Having a contradiction inandof itself does not mean that the newer data is false. This is the case expecially in comparitive statistics (e.g. trends change).



I do agree with you that it is a bit hard to show that abstinence programs have worked in the past (or currently), but I think your main premise is the one that should be argued.



...teens inevitably do have sex (which the statistics show that they will),...


Abstinence programs argue that while many teens currently have sex, this can be changed in the long run through an alternate education method. That is, statistics only show past trends, and the programs are to serve as a cure for the future trends.

Let us not forget the role of parents in respect to a child's education. A parent has a moral obligation to teach or correct anything the school has been given their child. They also have a moral obligation to investigate what has been taught to their child. In this respect, it is also the parent's moral obligation to make sure that their child's sexual knowledge as at a satisfactory level.

Where I do think you get off is the suggestion that all or most of the abstinence programs are a result of faith based premises. I do not think this is the case, or that it has to be the case. You can look at the CDC webpages regarding HIV, and you will notice that the vast majority of cases of HIV infection are reportedly caused by male-to-male sexual relations -- one does not need a slant or bias to report this. You can look at reality and come to the same conclusion that you did, "Obviously, abstinence is the only way to ensure that teens will not contract an STD or get pregnant." You can look at the moral rights and obligations of parents that they can educate their child for anything lacking or wrong with their child's public education.

All-in-all, we know sex to be generally unsafe with regards to the emotionally, physically, or economically unready. As such, I think it need to be warned against with the same amount of might as parents warn their children not to take candy from a stranger. When safety is involved, we rarely want our children to take a chance. Yet, some children take candy from strangers -- and ironically, that does not impede our warnings thereafter.



posted on Dec, 26 2004 @ 04:31 PM
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After the birth of a viable child at 8 ounces how can you still content that a baby in the womb is somehow fundamentally different than a baby that is born? They are both human beings and yes a baby in the womb is a thinging creature very early in pregnancy showing signs of curiousity and cognition, learning patterns and capable of being conditioned to responses. Certainly the baby in the womb is not as intelligent as a full grown human but then again neither is an adult with downs syndrome but that does not lessen the value of their humanity.

It is one of the terrible consequences of promiscuous sex that women have children before they are ready. The only way to prevent this 100% of the time is to exercise abstinence until you are ready for children. There is nothing wrong with teaching this primarily and condoms and the pill as a secondary consideration. Just because a curriculum is flawed does not mean it is worthless. Surely every textbook I have ever read contains errors, both in factuality and application. It is a fact of our flawed human condition. We live with it and seek to improve it but do not throw out a good things because of a sentence here or there.



posted on Jan, 20 2005 @ 11:56 AM
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Abstinence is the 100% fool proof way of not catching sexaully transmitted diseases or having a unwanted pregnancy. So some of the text books are wrong- I can name a ton of textbooks that were wrong in either statistics or outright lies. And that was in College.

Just because the books are wrong, does that mean the whole program is wrong? Or are you upset because you think that this smacks of morality? How dare we tell you how to live your life!

Look at the program as a whole and see if it has done what it set out to do. Compare numbers between programs and then tell us which one is best.



posted on Jan, 26 2005 @ 12:14 AM
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Teens have sex, abstinence programs lie. AIDS? Sweat, tears, toilet, all spread AIDS. Pregnancy? Kissing, masturbating(not each other, just yourself masturbating) slow dancing, all lead to pregnancy. Guess what? ALL LIES! I swear, lets teach bull# over facts.



posted on Jan, 27 2005 @ 09:40 AM
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Originally posted by James the Lesser
Teens have sex, abstinence programs lie. AIDS? Sweat, tears, toilet, all spread AIDS. Pregnancy? Kissing, masturbating(not each other, just yourself masturbating) slow dancing, all lead to pregnancy. Guess what? ALL LIES! I swear, lets teach bull# over facts.


So what that teens have sex? Why not teach abstinence? People once thought smoking was good for you, only to find out that the Cigerrette companies lied to them.

People lie. Books have falsehoods. Books are slanted. But what does that have to done with teaching abstinence? I don't understand, you want to toss out a perfectly good and legal way to prevent to spread of HIV and Sexually transmitted diseases because some people and books have lied. That does not make sense. If that's the case, lets toss out evolution because a couple of scientist have lied and spread falsehood.

I'm not teaching morals. All I would say is that if both genders do not have sex until marriage, no one can get HIV sexually. (Does not include blood transfusions, contamnated needles, blood to blood contact) If you don't have sex, you can not get any sexually transmitted disease. What is wrong with saying that. So what if kid's have sex, lets teach them the truth about all form of contraceptives. (By the way, it is impossible to get pregnant, without outside intervention, if you don't have sex. 100% guaranteed.)



posted on Jan, 27 2005 @ 07:36 PM
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THEY DON"T SAY THAT! They say "you gonna get aids from tears, sweat, toilet, thinking to hard, not being he sheep and giving us more money. Masturbation causes preganancy. Thinking causes pegnancy. Not giving us more money causes pregnancy." They don't teach anything, they just lie and get more money from Bush. If they actually taught the truth there would be no problem, but they don't, which is why they are in trouble.



posted on Jan, 28 2005 @ 09:39 AM
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Originally posted by James the Lesser
THEY DON"T SAY THAT! They say "you gonna get aids from tears, sweat, toilet, thinking to hard, not being he sheep and giving us more money. Masturbation causes preganancy. Thinking causes pegnancy. Not giving us more money causes pregnancy." They don't teach anything, they just lie and get more money from Bush. If they actually taught the truth there would be no problem, but they don't, which is why they are in trouble.


You have any proof? or Are you talking from experience? By the way, I really don't believe I have ever heard anyone, even from Churches.

So are you really upset about teens not getting the proper explaination about aids, pregenancy, etc.... or are you upset that they get money for the program just like any other sex ed program does?



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