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Why Abstinence Education 'Fails'

If abstinence-based sex education has failed--as supposedly proved by a recently-released national study (see http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18093769/ )--no one in the media or in Congress has mentioned the major reason why it fails.


The reason is absurdly simple.


The authorities charged with implementing the “abstinence-only” curriculum don't like it, don't believe in it, and have done everything in their power to ensure that it should fail.


Parents cannot expect such people to impart to children a chastity-centered sexual morality. It is like expecting overt atheists to teach children to believe in God. If parents want their children to develop a healthy sexual morality, they must take responsibility for it and do whatever is necessary to ensure their children's moral education. It cannot be entrusted to strangers who are committed to a hostile and competing moral vision.


Whatever the flaws in the study by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. (see /articles/2007/20070417102848.aspx ), there is abundant proof elsewhere for the assertion that the education establishment has always wanted “abstinence ed” to fail.


For example, this reporter personally covered a sex educators' conference in New Jersey in 2003 (see http://www.cwfa.org/articledisplay.asp?id=4800&department=CWA&categoryid=education ), four years after the state of New Jersey passed a law requiring all aspects of sex education “to stress abstinence” as the only safe approach to sex outside of marriage.


At the conference, the sex educators stressed anything and everything but abstinence. On conspicuous display were condoms and diaphragms, assorted encouragements to children to experiment with homosexuality, abortion “resources,” and several workshops devoted to explaining why “abstinence education” can't possibly work. Sponsors and enablers of the conference included such notorious advocates of non-abstinence as Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, NARAL, Lambda Legal (advocates for “gay rights”), and NOW.


Are these really people you'd trust to convince your children of the virtues of abstinence?


Things have not changed in the four years since that conference.


Earlier this year, New Jersey abstinence advocates Peggy Cowan (NJ Physicians Advisory Group) and Bernadette Vissani (Columbia Hospital, Newark) met with the state commissioners of health and education. They were told quite frankly that the sex education establishment in New Jersey has no intention of promoting abstinence.


“The Department of Education simply will not cooperate with abstinence education,” Mrs. Cowan said. “Although our state law requires that all sex education curricula and materials are to stress abstinence, we were told, 'That's not what we can do for the state of New Jersey's kids.'”


Classroom teachers are not resisting abstinence education, Ms. Vissani said. “The bureaucrats are to blame. The Department of Education and the Department of Health are driven by ideology. They are totally offended by the concept of marriage.”


It comes as no surprise that the Mathematica study was released shortly before Congress is to decide whether to continue funding Title 5 abstinence education. The anti-family, anti-religious Left is committed to using the public schools to indoctrinate children into sexual anarchy. They and their allies in the media never wanted abstinence education to succeed. They are doing their best to convince the American people that it has failed.


People who know about abstinence only from what they read in the newspaper or see on TV can't be blamed for concluding that such programs are a waste of money. They aren't being told about the many programs that have registered successes, as documented in a Heritage Foundation study, The Effectiveness of Abstinence Education Programs in Reducing Sexual Activity Among Youth (http://www.heritage.org/Research/Abstinence/BG1533.cfm).


In such a misleading climate, parents must take responsibility for their own children's moral education.  It's too important to be left up to education bureaucrats.


Lee Duigon is a freelance Christian writer whose work can be seen regularly at www.chalcedon.edu.