ACORN vs. Abstinence Education Programs

The following Op Ed, entitled Abstinence Ed, first appeared in The Post and Courier, in Charleston, SC, July 31, 2014.

ACORN sting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most people are aware that Congress cut off funds for ACORN after the organization was filmed undercover, advising potential clients on how to start a brothel.

I am sure the public is not aware, however, that President Obama and Congress defunded 169 contracted abstinence education providers across the country, effectively putting most out of business in 2010.

Heritage Keepers, a program I am familiar with in South Carolina, had to let 50 teachers go, even though Health and Human Services later put their curriculum on its approved list for middle and high schools as an evidence-based pregnancy prevention program.

For over a decade, anti-abstinence organizations have systematically portrayed abstinence education as an application of Bible-belt reactionary sentiment and as being rooted in ignorance.

However, the program above is based on a Utah statistician’s study of risk factors for teen sex on five continents.

As an example, he identified a child’s future orientation – whether he had aspirations beyond high school – as a risk factor for early sex. Those factors that could be impacted in a classroom setting were included in the syllabus.

Teachers were trained in medical accuracy and periodically evaluated on how well they impacted the attitudes and behavior of their students after the classes.

The South Carolina program served over 200,000 students before funding was cut. After one year, students receiving this program abstained at a rate three times greater than comparable non-program students.

The program was proven effective across age, gender and racial lines, regardless of a student’s sexual history. It was evaluated by Mathematica Policy Research, a Princeton, N.J., independent contractor.

The evidence against ACORN was anecdotal, with only a handful of observations. The evidence for good abstinence programs in our state is empirical, and is based on extensive documentation.

William McLellan

Charleston, South Carolina

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