Bolling on Abstinence Education

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Good to see Lieutenant Governor Bolling out in front on this issue.

Bolling asks Kaine to reconsider abstinence-only sex-ed program cuts

Story by Chris Graham
newdominion@ntelos.net

Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has a problem with Democratic Gov. Tim Kaine's move to eliminate $275,000 in funding from the state budget that was to go to five nonprofit programs in Virginia that administer abstinence-only sex-ed programs.

"The only sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence outside of a monogamous marital relationship, and it is important that we clearly communicate this fact to parents and their children," Bolling wrote in a letter to Kaine that his office made public today.

Kaine last month submitted plans to eliminate the funding that is a matching grant for a federal program that provides funds to organizations and school systems that offer abstinence-only education programs.

Schools and organizations that do not receive federal funding for their programs will be able to continue offering locally-based abstinence-only sex education.

In an interview with The New Dominion on Wednesday, Kaine said his administration will "continue to focus our energies on abstinence-based programs - really promoting the ethical and moral values of abstinence. But you've got to give kids more information so that they make wise decisions."

"The goal is to all we can to delay youngsters from getting involved in sexual activity and ending unwanted pregnancy. Abstinence-only programs don't really do that," Kaine said.

In his letter, Bolling said that contrary to those assertions, "abstinence-only education programs have been proven to work in Virginia and throughout the nation."

"According to the Virginia Department of Health, from 1995 to 2005, the period during which abstinence education has received significant funding and expansion, Virginia saw an 18.5 percent decrease in teen pregnancies, while nationwide teen sexual activity fell from 54.1 percent to 46.8 percent," Bolling wrote in the letter.

"I encourage you to further review the efficacy of abstinence based education programs before eliminating state funding for these programs," Bolling wrote.

Chris Graham is the executive editor of The New Dominion.

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28 Comments

I Hate Pandering said:

Wow, what a great visionary Bolling is...I thought we were for limited government? I guess we are for intervention, when it's our intervention, right?

edmundburkenator said:

I Hate Pandering, you sir have hit the nail on the head.

Laura V said:

They damed well better be checking immigration status of all the kids getting abstinence education. I don't want one red penny of my tax money going to a nonprofit that is provding any kind of services to illegals. ha! ha! ha! ha! Just kidding.

Good job Kaine!

How exactly does abstinence-only education constitute "intervention" any more than any other form of sex ed?

I can see being opposed to it if one is opposed to abstinence in principle, but let's not confuse the issue.

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

"The only sure way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases is abstinence outside of a monogamous marital relationship"

There's no evidence that abstinence-only education causes this to happen more often.

Want to know more?
http://tinyurl.com/yv6ngo

Ottie said:

Joe, I'm opposed to abstinence in principle. I'm for "doing-a-what-comes-naturally". Abstinence is for the Catholic clergy, remember!

ACTivist said:

Puft,
I missed you. Welcome back.
The article with which you refer leaves out those "other" programs that come into direct conflict with abstinence-only. Not knowing what else is being taught leaves me to wonder why there is not a universal or single focus program. Could be a state thing.

Although abstinence-only is in line with moral teachings of the Christian church, those not familiar with the church and morality should at lease be taught to abstane until you are an adult. If children have the understanding of the consequences (severe side;i.e. diseases, pregnancies) and how it can drastically change their lives and opportunities for the future, these would be very beneficial. Although I am on the side of abstinsion until marraige, I believe that a more mature adult rather than a child would have better understanding in making that sexual decision.

And Laurie, you are far from funny or cute. Either add substance to the conversation or just shut the pie hole!

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

The problem is that teaching abstinence doesn't cause kids to abstain. It does, however, cause them to be less informed about taking precautions when not abstaining.

I think it's that paper, maybe another, that found that kids who took an "abstinence pledge" or whatever were only slightly more likely to "wait until marriage" yet were 1/3 less likely to use protection when they did have premarital sex.

so, first of all, its condescending statements like, "those not familiar with the church and morality" that cause people to have a negative reaction to the holier-than-thou agenda of the Christian right.

second of all, if you want to talk about morals, how about this: it's immoral to stubbornly insist on a program that fails to meet it's stated objectives, and puts kids at an increased risk of getting an std, or getting pregnant out of wedlock.

Jack said:

"it's immoral to stubbornly insist on a program that fails to meet it's stated objectives"

Like you insist on gun control, social welfare, minimum wage, etc.?

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

HA! this from the guy who never misses an opportunity to accuse someone of using an ad hominem attack.

Hack, I see you're still confused about my position on gun control. ...Social welfare fails to meet it's objectives? I think that's at least debatable.

Anywoo, welcome to the conversation. we were just talking about abstinence education. Do you have anything on-topic to say, or would you rather stick to practicing your right-wing brat tactics?

Ottie, that is all I was trying to establish. Thank you.

Puft, love the Hal Lindsey reference. I too believe these are the Last Days. Are you sure those studies are the only definitive ones?

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Hey Joe, long time. I didn't mean to imply that that's the only definitive study. There are others. For instance:

"Abstinence and Safer Sex HIV Risk-Reduction Interventions for African American Adolescents," by researchers at Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Waterloo, reports the results of the first-ever randomized, controlled trial comparing an abstinence-only program with a safer-sex initiative designed to reduce the risk for HIV infection through condom use and with a control group that received health education unrelated to sexual behavior. After one year, the abstinence group reported similar levels of sexual activity as the safer-sex group and the control group. For teenagers who were already sexually active at the inception of the program, there was less sexual activity reported among the safer-sex group than among the abstinence or control group. Those in the safer-sex group also reported less frequent unprotected sex than did those in the abstinence and control groups.

Journal of the American Medical Association,1998.

...and others: http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/tgr/05/1/gr050101.html

kevin said:

you go, bro

Jack said:

Puffalump,

Pointing out your hypocrisy is not an ad hominem attack. Calling you a hypocrite without evidence is an ad hominem attack.

Laura V said:

ACTivist, there actually was substance in my comment by way of sacracsm and irony that perhaps you failed to pick up on. Seriously, the programs in question are administered by nonprofits that were recieving government funding. Is there not concern that undocumented immgrants are recieving some of those services?

Puft, I don't deny the plethora of studies showing that adolescent and teenage abstinence remains problematic despite the past decade of abstinence-only educational programs. But these were not, you must admit, entirely illogical approaches to the social crisis we found ourselves in in the 1990s. There seems to have been widespread agreement among conservatives that whatever was being taught before these programs were tried simply did not work.

One could argue by that time culturally the cat was already out of the bag so far that these programs amounted to an effort to turn back the clock in a way that was never going to really happen. If kids are indundated with the types of ideas and images they're getting from TV and movies maybe "thou shalt not" is unrealistic.

You also must admit there could be different approaches to different age groups. The notion of teaching middle schoolers about contraception, about which we have all heard the horror stories, would understandably be upsetting to many parents. Telling students "don't have sex, but if you do please take the following precautions" has the ring of futility to it.

And it is undeniable that some kids do in fact decide to remain abstinent. How best to promote more of these decisions? Abstinence-only education would seem to be a likely avenue.

We hear the response that "teaching values belongs in the home not the school." Fine, but you could say the same thing about teaching contraception. I don't see this attitude as exclusive to the "religious right" - whoever they are.

Perhaps the solution would be government-mandated instruction, beginning in fifth grade, in "recognizing the moral turpitude of modern culture"?

zimzo said:

How was it logical to believe that witholding information from students about how sexually transmitted diseases are spread would result in a reduction of sexually transmitted disaeases? In fact, there is now an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and a whole generation that is ignorant about basic aspects of sexuality. And yet despite the fact that every single study that has been conducted shows abstinence only education is a huge catastrophic failure, conservatives have introduced legislation to increase funding it. What is the logic of that?
http://www.nj.com/news/ledger/index.ssf?/base/news-12/1195019212171950.xml&coll=1

http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2007/11/06/congress-set-to-increase-funds-for-abstinence-only

Linda B said:

I went to a Catholic HS, and so we were of course taught abstinence-only. That didn't mean they didn't teach us about STDs and how they are spread, nor even about the various types of birth control. But the message was, "These exist, but in any case, you must avoid the whole issue by abstaining." I have no idea whether it was effective ... we probably had fewer problems than most schools, but that also gets back to what was being taught in the homes as well as socio-economic factors, etc.

I don't know what is included in these abstinence-only classes, but there must be a way to teach it without keeping kids in the dark about important health issues.

BTW, the health teachers taught us about the Catholic method of birth control after marriage ... rhythm method only ... with a real wink-and-a-nod.

Funny how Catholic families seem to have gotten so much smaller these days.

ACTivist said:

Puft,
"so, first of all, its condescending statements like, "those not familiar with the church and morality" that cause people to have a negative reaction to the holier-than-thou agenda of the Christian right."
That wasn't a condensending statement. I'm not the Christian right. You woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

"second of all, if you want to talk about morals, how about this: it's immoral to stubbornly insist on a program that fails to meet it's stated objectives, and puts kids at an increased risk of getting an std, or getting pregnant out of wedlock"
Where have I stubbornly insisted on this program. I believe the core value of it. It needs some tweeking and uniformity. Then again, no device or method other than abstinence can stave pregnancy or STD's. Would you not agree? And informing the children of this fact only necessitates the use of abstinance.

Look at it this way. In todays environment and with the diseases of today, having open sex (not married) is like playing russian roulett. Now would someone who doesn't like guns (and would love to restrict their use/ownership) promote a sexual program akin to that? Are you being a hypocrite? Or as you say to me, are you being disengenuous?

ACTivist said:

Laurie,
Yes, I got the sarcasm. No, I'm not worried about illegals or even documented immigrants getting access to these programs. What are they going to get out of it, condoms?
I wish I could find the article I recently read where immigrants (no definitive between legal/illegal) have a high rate of HIV/STD's. This goes in line with other diseases that are making a comeback stemming from the immigrant community. Either the concept of abstinance isn't working, the contraceptives are failing, they just don't care or they are not utilizing the programs (most coming from public schools). This is probably a good argument why the socialists want to give everyone free health care; to cover the medical issues (epidemics) that will be rearing their ugly heads in the near future.

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

Joe, I agree with you, but the study I quotes about was from 1998, before Bush and friends started pushing for it. The evidence against it was already out there at the point when the GOP passed the welfare reform bill that mandated the program.

So, correct me if I'm wrong, but as far as I can tell, the GOP wanted to reduce sex out of wedlock and std transmission. They had program A and program B. Program A had been proven to be less effective, but it had the word "abstinence" in the title. They went with that one.

of course I agree that's important to be mindful of what kids are taught. It reminds me of the studies that show kids who had DARE are more likely to use drugs ("don't smoke pot because it makes you feel euphoric") That's why it's unfortunate that this decision for abstinence-only was made on the basis of what would play best for the GOP's base, and not what was most effective in rearing healthy & informed kids.

I don't think it's necessary to say, "don't have sex" but that's just an issue of phrasing. Is it possible to have a "non-normative" sex ed. program? You can say, "abstinence is the best policy" "it's the only sure way" etc.

I have to believe that if this were any other initiative, the right would be all up in arms about the gov. telling people how to live their lives. You'd be saying, "this teaches kids to do what they're told, rather than think for themselves." I don't see anything wrong with backup plans. of course home made mashed potatoes are better than instant. But if all you have is a box of the flakes, you should at least add some butter

Also, I'm not sure what you're referring to with "what was going on in the 90s" In fact, teen pregnancy was in decline throughout the decade:
http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/images/coststudy.gif

Hack, so far you're 0 for 2 as far as contributing anything meaningful to this discussion. ...and speaking of hypocrisies, how about the fact that federal funding of an educational program is unconstitutional? Isn't that right? Do you support this socialist program? Enough with the pot shots. Join the discussion or go crawl back into your hole.

G.Stone said:

How about this .

Teach my kid too read , write and how to find mexico on a map. My wife and I will take care of when , where and at what point they should or should not be concerned with sex or become sexually active. I don't need the county , state or federal governments guiding, dictating or suplementing those life lessons. we have it under control thank you very much.

No wonder the rest of the world is beating the pants off ( no pun intended ) our kids when it comes to academics. We spend far too much time concerning ourselves where Johnnie puts his Johnson. Lets spend more time worring about math and science we will be far better off.

Ottie said:

We educate kids about drugs, in the hope that they WON'T do drugs. We are afraid of educating our kids about sex, because we're afraid that WILL "do" sex. Where's the logic, pray tell?

Jack said:

Puffalump:

You'll be happy to know that I agree with you. Neither the "abstinance only" nor any other sex-ed program should get any federal funding whatsoever.

I also think the Bush/Kennedy No Child Gets Ahead Act is unconstitutional.

Puft, I don't think I'M the "right." If I am, I'm probably on the verge of getting excommunicated.

Stone, HAH! Right on the mark as usual.

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

G. Stone: I agree that parents are the idea source of information in this topic. The trouble is that, for one reason or another, not all parents do talk to their kids. These kids have a higher risk of pregnancy/std, through no fault of their own. if we can remedy that with a little education, we should.

as far as spending too much time, when I was in school sex ed was like a 1/2 hour a day for a week. that's about .2% of the school year. I don't believe spending that time teaching math is really going to make the big difference. Also, I'm pretty sure other countries have sex ed, too. so...

jacob said:

Marshmallow,
Long time. You were missed.

I am in agreement with Stone. This is a matter for the parents. The unfortunate fact that some parents shirk their duty is not cause for the state to stick its nose into this matter. Teach em all to read first. A firm grasp of basic arithmetics would be refreshing as well.

All we are doing is replacing one evil (uninformed teenagers) with another (the state teaching morality).

The Late, Great Stay Puft Marshmallow Man said:

hey,

does sex ed. really have to involve morality? let the parent's teach the morality. let the schools stick to the facts. So, "If you have sex, you could get pregnant, or you could get an STD. abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy, and 100% effective at preventing STDs, condoms are 90% effective, birth control is 99% effective at preventing pregnancy, 0% effective at preventing SDTs." I see no moral constructs in this lesson...

on another note: it's a little funny to me how when the schools teach morality, its, "Get the state out of the business of teaching morality" and whenever I argue that schools shouldn't teach morality (ie. that homosexuality is Wrong), someone always comes along and says, "see, liberals want our children to receive an amoral eduction." so the schools are damned if they do or don't. What are they to do in that case? I say they should just stick to programs what give the kids the best shot.

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