Who is this man and why is he in my newspaper? by mattsteinglass
June 23, 2007, 12:08 am
Filed under: Health, Sex, United States

The David Brooks fact-free zone in all its picturesque idiocy:

American schools are awash in moral instruction — on sex, multiculturalism, environmental awareness and so on — and basically none of it works. Sex ed doesn’t change behavior. Birth control education doesn’t produce measurable results. The fact is, schools are ineffectual when it comes to values education. You can put an adult in front of a classroom or an assembly, and that adult can emit words, but don’t expect much impact

And now, for a word from the actual universe we live in, we turn to the Alan Guttmacher Institute’s interview with Douglas Kirby, researcher on adolescent sexual behavior for over 25 years and author of the landmark 2001 study Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy, which “analyzed the impact evaluations of more than 100 teenage pregnancy prevention programs across the country that met rigorous research standards,” and which Kirby is currently updating for 2007.

The evidence that comprehensive programs work has only become stronger over time. In a recent review of some 80 studies that measure the impact of comprehensive programs, two in three programs had a significant positive impact on behavior. Many either delayed or reduced sexual activity, or increased condom or contraceptive use. At least 10 interventions had long-term behavioral effects lasting two or more years; some lasted three or more years—as long as the effects were measured.

What is particularly encouraging about the evidence from these studies of comprehensive sex and HIV education programs is that when some curricula that were found to be effective in one study were implemented by other educators in other states and evaluated by independent research teams, they remained effective if they were implemented with fidelity in the same type of setting and with similar youth.

Abstinence-only sex ed doesn’t work. Comprehensive sex ed does. It’s a typical response of ideological hacks, when their policies fail miserably, to argue that the problem isn’t with their policy — it’s with those damn teenagers (or Iraqis) who were too stupid to respond to their policy. Or with the very concept of policy in general. Or something.

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