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Abstinence-Only Programs Found to be Medically Inaccurate and Ineffective

Representative Henry Waxman (D-CA) recently released a report reviewing federally funded abstinence-only sex education programs, which found that 11 of 13 most popular programs are teaching medically inaccurate information and harmful gender stereotypes to much of the country’s youth between the ages of nine and 18. The 11 programs, many which are based on old, disproved studies, are used by 69 organizations in 25 states and are teaching “false, misleading, or distorted information about reproductive health,” according to the report. In the past five years, several million children have been subject to over 100 abstinence-only sex education programs, none of which are reviewed for accuracy by the government that funds them. Many of the programs also include harmful, degrading, and out-dated stereotypes about gender roles. For example, that women need “financial support” while men need “admiration,” that women judge their success on their relationships and men on their accomplishments, that women should avoid giving men too many suggestions as it will lessen a man’s confidence, that men should be ashamed if they need the help of a woman; and that girls are weak and need men as protectors. A recent review released by Advocates for Youth (AFY) on the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education in ten state programs found that they have shown no long-term success in impacting the sexual behavior of teens. Specifically, abstinence-only programs do not have a long-term effect in delaying the initiation of sexual activity among teens or in reducing their risk-taking sexual behavior. In the recently passed $388 billion spending bill, nearly $170 million was allocated for abstinence-only education programs, more than double the amount of money spent by the government on these programs four years ago when Bush took office as president, according to the Associated Press.

Sources:

Waxman Report 12/01/04; Associated Press 12/01/04; Washington Post 12/02/04; The Progress Report 12/02/04; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 12/02/04; GenderPAC Press Release 12/07/04; Feminist Daily Newswire 10/18/04