New Study: Abstinence Works, Posted on Contraceptionblog.com by Ruben.
Shortly after the publication of Douglas Kirby's Emerging Answers 2007, a study which found that abstinence programs were not effective, and after Virginia Governor Tim Kaine rejected federal funding for abstinence until marriage programs, a new study to be published in 2008 shows that a Virginia based program has been effective in delaying sexual activity.
Of course, you know which study made the headlines...
Interestingly enough, Dr. Stan Weed, the author of this new study, is on the Effective Programs And Research Task Force, which reviewed Emerging Answers in early 2007.
Being on this task force should give Dr. Weed an equal standing and equal credibility in the media. After all, if he wasn't a credible researcher, he wouldn't be on the task force along with Dr. John Santelli, who is the Department Chair of the Population and Family Health department at Columbia University, would he?
When Douglas Kirby or Dr. John Santelli publish studies supporting comprehensive sexuality education programs, headlines across the nation echo, and quite often misrepresent, the conclusions of their work.
For example, the Associated Press' recent headline describing Emerging Answers reads "Report: Abstinence not curbing teen sex" - yet this headline is misleading.
This AP headline, as well as others, has caused me to suspect that reporters don't actually read the studies, and if they did, they don't actually understand the issue well enough. Consider that in Emerging Answers, Kirby acknowledges that abstinence increased from 1995 to 2005. (Page 28, paragraph 3) Had the reporter read this paragraph, they wouldn't have been able to honestly pen such a misleading headline.
Interestingly enough, I wasn't able to find an AP story about Dr. Weed's study. And this isn't the first time the media has ignored studies supporting abstinence until marriage programs.
It seems that a double standard exists - if a study supports contraception and comprehensive sexuality education, it is considered newsworthy, but if a study supports abstinence, it is not.
Dr. Weed's study, An Abstinence Program's Impact on Cognitive Mediators and Sexual Initiation, will be published in the Jan/Feb issue of American Journal of Health Behavior. You can read more about it here: http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/88807.php
In closing, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine rejected Title V funding since he wanted to fund programs that are evidence based. Now that there is evidence that Virginia's program is effective, Gov. Kaine should accept the funding.
What can be done about the media blackout of studies supporting abstinence programs? Well, here are some ideas..
1. Bring these studies to the attention of reporters who you have spoken with in the past
2. Announce this study on your blog or website in a prominent location
3. Email news about the study to your mailing list
4. Send out press releases discussing the study
5. Email news about Dr. Weed's study to your friends.