Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rush Turns His Attention To Sex

Rush Limbaugh had sex on his mind on Tuesday's program- and not only by continuing to boast about having been a judge at Saturday's Miss America pageant. He commented about a study reported in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine which seemed to indicate the superiority of abstinence-only education to a comprehensive approach. He declared

Finally they've researched it, and they found with young people, a sex education class focusing on abstinence works. The feminists hate that. The left hates that. They say, "You're not going to be able to stop kids from having sex! You're just not going to be able to stop it!" Okay, so let's teach 'em how then. They give them condoms and that's sex education. This is a federal study. Of course it only makes sense: Abstinence works every time it's tried. I mean, it's silly to dispute that, and it's also wrong-headed to get so angry about it. But they do, on the left.

Here we have 662 African-American children from four public schools in a northeastern city from 2001 to 2004 assigned to either: an 8-hour abstinence-only program; an 8-hour safer-sex-only program; an 8- or 12-hour program that combined both or an 8-hour control group that focused on non-sex related health issues.

Rush had it partially right: The Christian Science Monitor reports

In the group receiving abstinence-only education, 33 percent began having sex over the next two years, compared with 47 percent of those in the control group. Among the other groups, 52 percent of those taught only about safe sex became sexually active within two years, as did 42 percent of those in the comprehensive program.

But he left out a few details. The abstinence-only program

counseled children to delay sex “until they are ready” rather than until marriage, avoided a moralistic tone, and was careful not to disparage condom use, and to help children get rid of misconceptions about contraceptives if the subject came up during discussion.

Further, the youngsters had an average age of 12, an unusually young age to study for sexual activity, and they were followed for only two years. There was no way to determine, therefore, the degree and nature of sexual activity practiced by the young people when they reached the ripe old age of, say, 15, by which time some may have developed a more cynical attitude toward what they were taught.

The abstinence-only program employed was developed strictly for the study, whose results ran counter to evidence previously available. But given that only factual information was taught, it probably would qualify for federal funding under this administration's criteria, that the teen pregnancy program be evidence-based. Ultimately (depending on the results of continuing research and policy adopted) this may be the one thing this program most clearly demonstrates- that this President is, above all, a pragmatist, adhering to no set of dogma (or principles) but rather to what he believes will work.

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