Talk:Abstinence-only sex education

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Article name and purpose[edit]

Reading through this article again, it seems that it deals solely with abstinence-only sex education in the united states, exclusively. Do we have any solid information on AO sex-ed elsewhere in the world, besides american efforts to promote it in Africa, etc.? Perhaps much of this content should be moved to a new article branched off from Sex_education#United_States, which in fact links to this article. This article can be left with simply a definition of what AOSE is and a description of views in favor and against it. Does anybody agree? I will start this process within a few days if I don't hear any arguments against. AniRaptor2001 (talk) 02:11, 27 November 2009 (UTC)

Early comments[edit]

Made link from Sex education: US article. Am tempted to add stub template. Anybody got comments?


The 37% failure rate fact is odd, considering that the FDA lists their failure statistics for testing condoms here ([1]), and none of them show anything near 37%. I think that, barring some kind of citation on that purported fact, it should be removed from this entry. --Patswanson 21:10, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

rofl at downplaying effectiveness of protection. those amish are so zealous—The preceding unsigned comment was added by TheWorldWideWeb (talkcontribs) 9:16, 9 November 2006 (UTC)

NPOV Problems[edit]

Both the first paragraph and the criticism paragraph are obviously POV biased against Abstinence only sex ed. Full disclosure: so am I! However, it would help this article to attempt to represent the other side's view a bit more fairly. Charlie 00:02, 23 December 2006 (UTC)

I agree. Maybe there should be a section on "Arguments for". For example: abstinence is the best way to avoid pregnancy and STDs, contraceptives often fail, mixed messages encourage risky behaviour, promotes of self respect and respect for others, counteracts peer pressure or pressure by the media. There could also be quotes from abstinence-only supporters. These are just a few things i came up with off the top of my head, and i'm not even in favour (support for abstinence as a positive option, yes - holding back useful info from teenagers, no). Fionah 14:39, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I found the PBS link in the main sex education article and added a sentence about proponents' views. I don't really agree with them myself but the viewpoint needs to be presented fairly; hopefully this gives a start on getting balance. Fionah 08:45, 3 April 2007 (UTC)
I've tried to balance it a little more. The intro still isn't perfect, and you're right that it needs an "arguments for" type of section to balance it out (I would especially like to see reactions of "abstinence-only" supporters to the 2004 study that pointed out that most of the federally-funded programs contained embarassing and sometimes alarming scientific errors and misleading or outright erroneous statements about STD prevention and the consequences of abortion; I haven't seen any, but I'm sure at least one out there has probably said "We need to fix the programs or stick with the two accurate ones, but that doesn't mean the basic idea behind the program is wrong", or something very like that). I think it is at least a little better than it was, but my problem is that I don't quite "get" the full-on abstinence-only position, and know no one who does, so I don't know where to look so much for notable quotes from supporters and such. I sort of understand the reasoning behind it (you don't want to encourage teens to have sex, etc.), but, the implementation... I don't know.
I also would like to know how many sex ed programs in general cover rape kits. I was shocked to even learn they existed - after I had graduated high school, and then only because I saw it on TV! NONE of my sex education, from fifth grade on up through high school, ever mentioned it. I realize they're mostly concerned with us going out and getting knocked up of our own volition (which probably happens more often, and is something we and they have more potential to control), but a young woman or even man (because they get sexually assaulted too, once in a while) NEEDS to know what to do in case of rape, not just "call the police to report the rape", but to expect and ask for a rape kit (and to not shower or change clothes, etc., before they have it done). I'm also wondering if any sex ed classes even broach the morning after pill, and how accurately they describe its use and effects (I can guess on how the abstinence-only folks would react, but...). I know we didn't have any mention of it, but I think it either wasn't in existence then, or was still experimental, and the closest thing was the "abortion pill" that came before it, RU-whatever, that was never mentioned either.
Neither did I, but a) I didn't get an "abstinence only" program or anything resembling one. I'm from the Bay Area and I took these classes in the '90s, and b) I had sex-ed classes in the 5th and 6th grade, but learned more about this sort of thing in Health class in the 9th which begs another question: if some school has an abstinence-only program and receives funding for it, does that preclude having some other class where they talk about contraception? Let me answer my own question: OF COURSE NOT!!!!! But back to rape kits: I don't recall any class touching upon that but it's not because they're a bunch of Christian-right wingers and no system will be perfect. (Epiphone83 (talk) 15:21, 18 August 2013 (UTC))
I'm actually growing to suspect that I underwent (in school, not home) "abstinence-only" sex ed, albeit with a teacher who was a little more earnest about sex than such programs dictate. I wonder how many of the kids who have to go through these programs actually know that it's an abstinence-only program they're in? Does anybody know? Runa27 17:50, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
I changed some of the biased language. Enough talk, I figured. The biggest problem is that it's not only still called "abstinence-only sex education," but that simply typing in "abstinence education" redirects here. Again: it'd be like an article about Strategic Defense Initiative redirected to an article called "Star Wars (Ronnie_program)". With this canard in place, there's no way on Earth a neutral discussion can be had. (Epiphone83 (talk) 15:15, 18 August 2013 (UTC))

Discrepancy[edit]

"Abstinence only sex education is a form of sex education which emphasizes abstaining from sex, often to the exclusion of all other types of sexual and reproductive health education, particularly regarding birth control and safe sex. [emphasis added]"

Doesn't the only imply to the complete exclusion of other info? SeanMon 00:36, 27 December 2006 (UTC) (sorry, I forgot to sign initially)

I disagree, without that statement it makes it appear that it only emphasizes abstinence.Quincybuddha

Exactly. See "abstinence-only" could just as easily refer to say, "abstinence is the only effective way to prevent all those nasty STDs and pregnancy, but there are some other methods sometimes used, and here's how you use them". Instead, abstinence-only does not include instructions on say, condom use. As redundant as it sounds to many people, for clarity's sake, the phrase should stay! Runa27 18:02, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

More NPOV Problems[edit]

"It has been noted that the same people who encourage Creationism to be taught in American Schools also encouage abstinence-only sex education." I don't think this is necessarily true, and there is no evidence to back it up. I'm removing it. Also, do we really need the family guy reference? Flutefreek 07:09, 30 December 2006 (UTC)

I think it's necessarily UNtrue, either, but lacking a source it is enough to note they are conservatives, especially with such dangerously vague language such as "the same people" (as opposed to say, "many of the same people"), which implies ONLY Creationists support abstinence-only sex ed, which I doubt is true.
However, the fact that many of the federally-funded abstinence-only programs come from religious organizations is absolutely true, and already has a source within the article: the 2004 study that noted the factual errors in many of the common abstinence-only programs brings it up, though mostly in its own reference notes. Runa27 18:08, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

Moved paragraph[edit]

I've moved "Critics consider the promotion of abstinence-only sex education as one of the major efforts by the religious right to suppress sexual activity other than that which occurs between the parties to a lifelong, monogymous relationship" to the criticism section.

I want to ask if anyone support today the POV banner (after some changes). The article it's too short but I dont think there's a POV problem.IsmaelPR 21:18, 15 March 2007 (UTC)

Definitely do not remove the NPOV banner! Even a woolly liberal like me can see it's very unbalanced towards critics. Keep the criticism section, but expand on the reasons for (you don't have to agree with them!) Fionah 14:42, 30 March 2007 (UTC)
I kept the moved comment in the criticism section, but not mentioning the criticism at ALL in the intro seems unbalanced, as one of the most notable things about abstinence-only sex ed is how controversial it is (at least in the U.S.), so I did mention it briefly in the intro tweaks I made. I also noted that abstinence itself isn't a very controversial thing (nobody disputes that not having intercourse will help keep you non-pregnant, or that not engaging in sexual activity with other people prevents the spread of many or most STDs), it's the abstinence-only approach to sex ed that's controversial. Somehow it seems a little more balanced that way, though the intro is still not perfect and we definitely need a "arguments for" section to balance the fact that we've got a whole section (and a mostly excellent one at that) for Criticism. And, arguably, it should go before the Criticism section (which is fairly typical of Wikipedia entries; it's usually a good idea to show what something's about before getting into the criticism of it, which may not always make as much sense without knowing where the proponents already stand on it). When it goes in, anyway. Runa27 18:17, 16 April 2007 (UTC)

I note this article doesn't seem to include the names of any prominent groups or persons in American politics that are advocating the teaching of abstinence-only. While I am very familiar with people and groups who would be interested in having abstinence taught as a legitimate option ALONGSIDE information about contraception and so on, I have been searching in vain along the American political landscape for a proponent of the Abstinence-Only position. Could some names of some politicians and groups working for this be provided by someone? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 24.240.212.137 (talk) 04:19, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Did you read the article? Proponents include President George W. Bush and the groups listed at the end of the article. See also VP candidate Sarah Palin and The Heritage Foundation. Google Leslie Unruh of the Abstinence Clearinghouse. --Sfmammamia (talk) 23:18, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Implications for LGBT People[edit]

I added that the message that sex should only occur within the confines of marriage has serious implications for people who do not wish to be married, or cannot be married, especially gay people. I can easily find quotes for this, it is a major criticism of abstinence-only education and I was shocked that it wasn't mentioned anywhere in the article (abstinence-only typically doesn't even mention gay people at all except for discussions about AIDS). It was a huge part of what I learned about abstinence-only in my college human sexuality classes - straight kids are getting misinformed, but gay kids are getting downright disenfranchised and told almost no information that would ever be relevant to their lives.

Quotes would help. However I also think it's self-explanatory and doesn't necessarily require a quote to back it up, it can be pretty easily logically deduced by the definition of abstinence-only as promoting marriage as the expected context for sexual relationships, along with the obvious fact that gay marriage is illegal in most countries.Rglong 08:09, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Especially given that the main article for sex education includes a whole section on that. :) Oh, and I linked to same-sex marriage in that section here, because it made sense. Runa27 18:19, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
What impact do you expect them to have? That a couple of people are going to choose a same-sex relationship but then say, "oh, but the teacher said we can't have sex until we're married, but in this state, we can only be domestic partners. Oh no, what are we going to do?" (Epiphone83 (talk) 20:49, 18 August 2013 (UTC))

Removing bias in criticism section[edit]

The first two sentences of the criticism section seem NPOV right now, but after that the section strays into bias. The positions of critics should be characterized and sourced; there should not be arguments for or against those criticisms in the article. Studies should only be cited if there is going to be a much more in-depth history of the issue written. Right now the criticisms outweigh the discussion of the actual programs.--emw 04:51, 28 April 2007 (UTC)

It strays into bias how? (I hope I don't sound aggressive here, I just sort of fail to see how it's too biased for WP, given that if it's accurate and truthful and tries to represent both sides, it is technically NPOV, which basically means that the Criticism section itself can't be biased, since it is merely meant to detail the criticisms levied against the AO sex ed programs; the article on the other hand, is still somewhat biased only because still no one has gotten off their butt and written the "arguments for" section to show both sides in-depth). The information may not be rosy, however up until the last paragraph at least it is 100% accurate and cited to a recent (2004) study (the 2007 study is mentioned, but never cited directly though it should be, and following the reference to the sex education article has thus far been somewhat fruitless, though I haven't looked through that article's references just yet). Is it bias if it's accurate? In the Criticism section? I don't think so, not if we're trying to create an accurate encylopedia entry. That said, it probably seems more biased because nobody has yet added a "Arguments for" section, and I'm going to see if I can either hunt up some material for it or hunt up someone else who can.
However, I would like to know the following, Eric:
  • What do you mean by "the positions of critics should be characterized and sourced" given that that implies to me that there are no sources for the criticisms, which is wrong because the 2004 U.S. government survey of a number of popular AO curricula is very critical of, if nothing else, the execution of these specific programs? And how can a position be "characterized"? I'm not sure what exactly you're asking for here. I'd appreciate it if you were more specific.
  • "There should not be arguments for or against those criticisms in the article" - again I am not sure exactly which portions you are supposed to be complaining about here. It would be more beneficial if you were less vague. Where exactly do you see "arguments for or against those criticisms"? Keep in mind that stating the results and findings of a study when speaking of that study is not inherently an "argument for or against those criticisms", so long as it is worded such that it is clear that it is true in the context of the particular study (that is, statements of what the study found to be true). That is the closest I can come to finding "arguments for or against" anything that don't serve the purpose (or at least attempt to serve the purpose) of presenting both general sides of the controversy, even if it's only one of the two sides just yet.
  • "Studies should only be cited if there is going to be a much more in-depth history of the issue written" - this statement alarms me, coming as it does from a Wikipedian. A fairly recent study pointing out that some of the most popular AO sex ed programs had scientific errors (a study which, I should add, includes extensive quotes and sources in its own right)... can't be cited in an article about AO sex ed? Look, I realize you're concerned about the article's level of balance and NPOV and whatnot - a valid concern on such a controversial topic - but you just made it sound, to me at least, like you think it's a good idea to remove accurate, sourced information from an encyclopedia article. NO. That is the last thing we should be doing. The first thing we should be doing, being, of course, finding sourceable quotes and whatnot on the "Arguments for" side and adding it in to make sure both sides of the controversy, as well as the execution of the programs, are as accurately represented as possible. Also, if any sourceable information on studies or policy changes or whatnot can be found for any year past 2004, that would be a fantastic addition. As for "only be cited... if there is going to be a much more in-depth history of the issue written", are you missing something or am I? This article appears to be not much more than a sub-article of Sex education; it was, I have to assume, thus originally intended to be an expanded overview and history of the type of program and its history that would hopefully be so extensive as to render it impossible to merge back into Sex education without losing considerable informative content. Thus, I have to assume there will, eventually, BE a more in-depth history of the issue. Just because it doesn't exist yet does not mean that we cannot cite studies, and actually, please do cite a WP policy or guideline that actually says what you stated, namely that "Studies should only be cited if..." that does not touch on merely the reliability and verifiability of the study. I am aware of no such policy or guideline, which is why I was a little alarmed to read that.
  • "Right now the criticisms outweigh the discussion of the actual programs." Both agree and disagree on this. There is not much discussion of how the programs are executed (which is very important), but there is certainly sourced information about the accuracy levels of the various text books they use, which actually is a "discussion of the actual programs", albeit not one that goes beyond the textbook and not entirely an optimistic one (though I'd like to note that while they were amongst the least-used as of 2004, two of the 13 programs' text books WERE found to not have any serious errors or misrepresentation of facts; this is noted accurately in the article, though there is no "reaction since the discovery of this" type information there and I did not have access to such information, otherwise I would have added it in myself). So, really, it's like we're only halfway there, discussing the books used by the programs, but not how they're used. I keep thinking that maybe the accuracy of the text books should be part of a seperate section of the article from the Criticism section (when I edited that section, the notes about the study and its findings were already there in some form or another); certainly if we can find evidence that anybody changed their program based on the 2004 findings, I would fully support such a change, as we could really balance the article out nicely if only we had that and some claims in support of the programs to counterbalance the Criticisms. Runa27 21:25, 14 May 2007 (UTC)

Sexually transmitted infections[edit]

Government agencies have reclassified STDs (Sexually transmitted diseases) as STIs (Sexually transmitted infections). Reference to this can be found in this page [2]. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Damienhunter (talkcontribs) 12:01, 29 April 2007 (UTC).

WP:UNDUE and lead[edit]

I'm worried that the lead commits an "equal validity" fallacy. As far as I can tell, there are no mainstream medical or public health organizations that advocate abstinence-only sex education. The official positions of the American Psychological Association [3], American Medical Association [4], National Association of School Psychologists [5], Society for Adolescent Medicine and American College Health Association [6] , the American Academy of Pediatrics [7], the American Public Health Association [8] are that comprehensive sex education, not abstinence-only sex education, should be implemented. I'm unable to find any mainstream medical or scientific organization that takes an opposing view. This consensus should be clearly stated in the lead -- and per WP:UNDUE, barring similar citations, there is no need to present opposing views in the same manner. Now, of course there's room to say that religious groups think the focus should be on marriage, not STDs or pregnancy rates -- but as to the question of effectiveness at preventing STDs and pregnancy, WP:UNDUE requires a clear statement of the consensus view as the consensus view. Fireplace (talk) 00:22, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

The official positions of the organizations you list should be added as a section to the article, with citations. Once that's done, it would be appropriate to summarize that consensus in the lead. Given that the article is about one approach to sex education, I do think it's appropriate in the lead to say who supports that approach and why, and who disagrees and why. So long as the additions you make retain that logic, I would have no argument. --Sfmammamia (talk) 00:34, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
I found a place to add the professional associations and cites; will work on the lead as I have time unless another editor gets to it first!--Sfmammamia (talk) 01:45, 7 December 2007 (UTC)
Great, thanks. I will probably take a crack at expanding the addition you made, as the official positions are are very detailed and explanatory... but it'll be a big project to do well, and I might not get to it immediately. Fireplace (talk) 03:39, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Ethical Consideration[edit]

Finally, promotion of abstinence as a sole option for adolescents and young adults raises serious human rights concerns, because it involves withholding health- and life-saving information from teenagers. Access to complete and accurate HIV/AIDS and sexual health information is recognized as a basic human right by many international agreements [4,17]. Governments have an obligation to ensure complete and accurate information in publicly supported programs, and adolescents have a right to expect health education provided in public schools to be scientifically accurate and complete. A quote from Do Abstinence-Plus Interventions Reduce Sexual Risk Behavior among Youth? Shari L. Dworkin, John Santelli

A don't forget the question of whether or not abstinence is a religious position and how that effects separation of church and state

Recent addition to lead section[edit]

I moved a recent addition to the lead section out of the lead and into the criticism section. Per WP:LEAD, the lead should be kept brief and contain highlights of the article. I saw the addition as too detailed and making a long lead even longer, I also know that maintaining balance in this article's lead has been subject to debate in the past. The editor who made the addition, Dorftrottel, misintrepreted my change as POV-based; I'm actually trying to maintain NPOV. Other thoughts? --Sfmammamia (talk) 20:16, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Sorry for that, I jumped to stupid conclusions. But let's revise the lead together, as it's clearly too long. User:Dorftrottel 21:33, January 24, 2008

Globalization tag[edit]

I have removed the generic globalization tag from this article. If you think the tag is deserved, please feel free to restore it -- but please also add a clear explanation right here on this talk page. Your actual concerns are much more likely to be adequately addressed if you identify them. WhatamIdoing (talk) 19:54, 4 March 2008 (UTC)

I have added the world-view tag, because the article focuses solely on abstinence-only sex education in the United States. While this may be less of an issue worldwide, it should be discussed in the article. AniRaptor2001 (talk) 06:56, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

I am in a class and we're revising a wiki article for a project. I have chosen this page and definitely plan to address the globalization issue. I am going to add a section totally related to my edits but I wanted to comment in here because the lack of world view is one of my main focal points. 16:26, 5 March 2014 (UTC)U0552803 (talk) u0552803

Bias/Contradiction in intro[edit]

The claim that the only consideration of Abstinence only vs Sex Ed arguments are if abstinence only actually causes abstanment. However, the earlier paragraph points out psychological concerns and the fact that abstinence only does not teach safe sex leading to risky sex when engaged. I did not edit it, I feel someone better educated on this subject than me should do so. 76.177.1.64 (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 03:44, 8 July 2008 (UTC)

I just added yet another anti-abstinence reference that has good research citations, but the article is now even more in need of pro-abstinence material, including research citations, especially in the light of years of funding of abstinence-only programs by governments such as the USA. We need both citations of research supporting secular abstinence-only programs as well as religious justification and research results for faith-based (such as Christian) abstinence education programs. David spector (talk) 22:35, 1 February 2010 (UTC)
Here's a source reporting on a pro-abstinence study: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/02/01/AR2010020102628.html AniRaptor2001 (talk) 04:19, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Pennsylvania Study[edit]

Adding info about new study from University of Pennsylvania showing abstinence education works, also added info on two sources of criticism that have a bias against it for added clarity on their bias. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Notoadultery3 (talkcontribs) 22:44, 2 February 2010 (UTC)

Discrimination against homosexuals[edit]

I'd like to discuss whether or not Category:Discrimination against homosexuals belongs on this article. The relevant sentence from the article is "The idea that sexual intercourse should only occur within marriage also has serious implications for ... particularly homosexuals living in places where same-sex marriage is not legal or socially acceptable." Two things:

  1. The quoted sentence above has no reference in the article and might need to be removed on those grounds alone. Even if we source that sentence though it's not obviously discrimination against homosexuals.
  2. "It should be clear from verifiable information in the article why it was placed in each of its categories." (from cat). Categories are not supposed to be controversial.

I'm going to add {{Category unsourced}} in the mean time. ~a (usertalkcontribs) 20:27, 25 May 2010 (UTC)

I'm with you, I think category fails the parameters for inclusion. - Schrandit (talk) 00:42, 26 May 2010 (UTC)
I second that: while I believe that AOSE certainly has implications for homosexuals as well as heterosexuals, it's difficult to make the leap that it constitutes discrimination against homosexuals. More likely, there is a perception that the same organizations pushing for AOSE are also pushing against homosexuality. The sentence does not belong in the article, and neither does the category. You have my support to remove. Rodface (talk) 00:51, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

I added a source that was easily searched out that was clear that researchers feel abstinence-only sex education is discriminatory. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 71.139.19.85 (talk) 08:23, 26 May 2010 (UTC)

I remain unconvinced that abstinence education constitutes discrimination against homosexuals. - Schrandit (talk) 05:14, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

I don't think you need convincing of anything but that is beside the point as reliable source is clear that it is. You seem to like deleting sources and categories related to gays so I guess others will have to keep an eye on things. 71.139.19.85 (talk) 18:54, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

By all means, keep an eye on me. I, in the meantime will do likewise. Source number 1 provides scant, opinionated mention of the topic and source nubmer 2 was written by a senior fellow at the guttmacher institute. I and two other editors think it is a leap to categorize ABSE as discriminatory against homosexuals and as categories are supposed to be self-evident and uncontroversial it ought be removed. - Schrandit (talk) 23:49, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Merely deleting content and categories will not change history. the Bush administration backed off sponsoring faith-based abstinence-only funding because it endorsed carte blanch discrimination against gays. If the article was written well this would be more obvious, simply edit-warring because you want to empty out a homosexual category does not make you virtuous and correct. 71.139.19.85 (talk) 00:16, 29 May 2010 (UTC)

Removed from budget[edit]

For adding to article: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0742039320090508 Rodface (talk) 00:15, 31 May 2010 (UTC)

Why stop abstaining at marriage?[edit]

The article states that AOSE "emphasizes the teaching of morality that limits sex to that within the bounds of marriage, and that sex before marriage and at a young age has heavy physical and emotional costs" but it fails to explain why its proponents believe sexual activity within the context of marriage is acceptable. Neither pregnancy nor STDs are prevented by a marriage license, nor does being married make either of those problems less serious. So why do AOSE proponents say "no sex until marriage" rather than "no sex ever, at all", which would be more sensible within the context of their basic premise? Pais (talk) 16:53, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

First, if two people only have sex with each-other, it's more likely that they won't have STDs, or at-least STDs as serious as HIV or Syphilis (I suppose you could still get crabs somehow) whereas if you have multiple partners, you run more of a risk. "Oh, but your husband can cheat on you..." yeah yeah, even abstinence isn't 100%, it's just better. As for pregnancy, they assume people get married when they're at-least ready for the possibility of children. (~~Epiphone83~~)

removed this sentence[edit]

"Biologically, abstaining from sexual relations is the only way to completely avoid the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases that could otherwise be transmitted exclusively during sexual activity [citation needed]. "

Took this out because it has needed a citation since september. Also, it's not scientifically accurate--an STD could easily be transmitted to an abstinent person--for example, a cotton swab or used towel. Rare? yes. Unlikely? Yes. But possible. If someone wanted to rewrite this to say something to the effect of "abstinence is the best protection against STDs" and cite it, go ahead.

National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy[edit]

The article says, "However, The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy studied 'three different abstinence-only programs, Teen Aid, Sex Respect, and Values and Choice" and found that for "high school students with the most permissive sexual values, the programs did delay the initiation of sex ...'", but the NCPTP made no such study. The quotation refers to a study performed by a third party (Weed et al. 1992), not research performed by the NCPTP itself. NCPTP describes the results of Weed et al. thusly: "these programs did not significantly delay the initiation of sex, although in one out of six groups of youth (the most permissive high school students), they appeared to significantly delay sexual initiation." I tried but haven't tracked down the Weed et al. study, but the claimed positive result appears very weak because it appears to be a post-hoc subgroup analysis, a notoriously flawed practice. (I need not mention that abstinence only education does not encourage permissive sexual values.) The NCPTP said that the Weed et al. study provided poor evidence for the efficacy of abstinence only-education.

I quote from the NCPTP's summary: "There do not currently exist any abstinence-only programs with strong evidence that they either delay sex or reduce teen pregnancy. However, this does not mean that abstinence-only programs are not effective, nor does it mean that they are effective. It simply means that given the great diversity of abstinence-only programs combined with very few rigorous studies of their impact, there is simply too little evidence to know whether abstinence-only programs delay the initiation of sex." In other words, this meta-study concluded that there is no good evidence that abstinence only education delays sex. On my reading, it appears that this study found no evidence that abstinence only programs are good for anything.

The NCPTP should not be quoted as having performed the work of Weed et al., work that should not be quoted in support of abstinence only education. In short, this sentence should be cut or re-written to accurately reflect the real conclusion of the NCPTP report, namely that they found no evidence that abstinence education effectively promotes abstinence. Flies 1 (talk) 15:30, 16 May 2011 (UTC)

I changed "studied" to "described a study"; good catch.
On the other hand, it's odd that at one point their conclusion is that there is no evidence that abstinence education effectively promotes abstinence, while they also report that 3 studies were effective in the most at-risk group. How about wording like this:
  • They concluded that there is no good evidence that abstinence only education delays sex, although they noted that for high school students with the most permissive sexual values, the programs did delay the initiation of sex (emphasis for WP talk page only)
Thanks for working on this with me. I look forward to your response ... or just be bold and change it yourself. --Uncle Ed (talk) 15:52, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, I've been bold. I'm an inexperienced wikiite, so I'm not sure if I'm obeying protocol, or what have you. It seemed to me that the one particular study where permissive sexual values formed a key sub-group wasn't very strong (the ambiguity of the phrase "permissive sexual values" makes the result practically impossible to interpret IMHO), while the dispute between the Heritage Foundation and the NCPTP was much more interesting. With this in mind, I removed specific references to the Weed et al. study and instead described the criticisms the NCPTP made of Heritage. The NCPTP paper was, it seems to me, circumspect in its remarks, not quite directly accusing Rector (of Heritage) of dishonesty or incompetence, despite, for instance, his inclusion of two analyses of the same data as though they independently arrived at the same conclusion.
Given that the section heading is "Disputes about effectiveness", I thought my discussion was apropos, but I wonder whether this particular dispute is sufficiently notable to warrant the attention I've given it. I also have to second-guess myself since I gave the NCPTP report rather more weight, but it seems to me that it provides a more rigorous and balanced assessment than the Heritage Foundation, an organization with an overt political agenda. Feedback would be appreciated. Flies 1 (talk) 22:52, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
Well, there are only two possibilities:
  1. That no studies have ever found that abstinence-only education is effective
  2. That some studies (however small a percentage) have found it to be effective
I was hoping we could keep this on the scientific level, but the last editor implied that at least "one dog in the fight" (my words) has a political agenda. Is there a way for us contributors to report on the scientific aspects and the political aspects separately? Or can we simply say that advocates of comprehensive or "abstinence-plus" generally claim that no studies have ever found that abstinence-only education is effective, while advocates of abstinence-only claim just the opposite, that at least some studies have found it to be effective? --Uncle Ed (talk) 23:07, 16 May 2011 (UTC)
It seems to me that the issue isn't whether there exist any studies that show AOE is effective, but whether the collective body of evidence supports it or not. I can't rightly say whether the paragraph I added has any place in the article. I added it because the Kirby paper was quoted in the article in a way that I felt did not represent its findings. My intention was to represent those findings accurately. My discomfort arises from wondering whether this particular paper represents a major finding in this area. If the original point, that AOE (tired of retyping abstinence only) is more successful when accompanied by permissive sexual values, is important, then the Kirby paper is a very poor reference, and the underlying research of Weed et al. isn't much better if Kirby's summary is accurate.
Separating the political questions from the scientific ones will be challenging given the partisan nature of the debate on the abstinence only vs comprehensive sex-ed. (As far as who's got a dog in the fight, the Heritage Foundation says on its website that its mission is to promote conservative policies while the NCPTP site says it only wants to reduce teen pregnancy. It may be that the NCPTP is just as partisan as the Heritage Foundation, but the Heritage Foundation is explicitly partisan.) I agree that these separating these two dimensions of the conflict is a good idea. Scientifically, the Rector paper is a failure for assessing the available evidence by cherry picking favorable results and, Kirby argues, even in interpreting these results as favorable. The Kirby paper makes repeated reference to a previous NCPTP study, called "Emerging Answers" iirc, which may be more appropriate for inclusion in this section than the particular Kirby-Rector dispute. "Emerging Answers" appears to be a comprehensive meta-study of the evidence on AOE.
If covering the dispute itself is important, then these two papers may be of sufficient notability to warrant their continued presence in the article. If the point of this section is to compile the evidence, then meta-studies such as "Emerging Answers" are really the way to go. Flies 1 (talk) 16:24, 17 May 2011 (UTC)

(unindent) It seems that when social policy is being formulated, each side will cite "the science" in support of its views. Like, "Doing X is morally (ethically) wrong". Then that side cites any study they can find (preferably in a peer-reviewed scientific journal) which points out the environmental, economic, medical or psychological harm of X. Meanwhile, those who feel X is morally/ethically good (or at least "not bad") cite opposing studies.

Would it be a good policy for Wikipedia to reveal or identify the ideological positions of people who cite scientific studies? (Maybe there is already a policy page that covers this.) I'm looking for one blanket policy that would cover editorial policy on a host of controversial issues. --Uncle Ed (talk) 20:16, 23 May 2011 (UTC)

The NCPTP reference is again quoted as reporting on a study that shows that AOE works in one subgroup. Whatever other considerations prevail, I feel strongly that the sentence reporting on the NCPTP misrepresents the findings of the paper in question. I will try to dig up the "Emerging Answers" NCPTP meta-study and put that in, as the Kirby paper quoted in the article seems mainly relevant as a reply to Rector. In the meantime, I'm editing the sentence to reflect the paper more accurately. Flies 1 (talk) 19:18, 20 June 2011 (UTC)

I have now removed reference to the original NCPTP study, which, as I said earlier, doesn't seem like an important reference on the subject. In its place, I have described a more recent comprehensive metastudy published by the NCPTP. I took pains to accurately reflect the tone and conclusions of this report. I originally had a few additional sentences regarding the reports recommendations for further research on AOE, but removed them for space considerations, as they seemed to put too much weight on the report in comparison with other material in the section. I left in a reference to the report's findings on comprehensive sex education (CSE), and as I see this as a potentially controversial decision, I wish to make clear the reasons why I did so. Basically, I wanted to provide context for the report's assessment of AOE. If AOE was unsuccessful, what difference would it make if the main alternative, CSE were as well? There would be no reason to recommend against widespread introduction of AOE programs, as the NCPTP did, unless there are other programs that are known to work. Indeed, this to me is the key point in regarding AOE: evidence for it is poor, whereas evidence for alternative programs is good. Without knowing that there is good evidence for CSE, there is no way to contextualize the information that the evidence for AOE is poor. Flies 1 (talk) 20:56, 21 June 2011 (UTC)

NPOV vs. taking a side[edit]

Flies 1 wrote (above):

It seems to me that the issue isn't whether there exist any studies that show AOE is effective, but whether the collective body of evidence supports it or not.

Actually, according to NPOV, this is not the issue. We are not supposed to decide what "the collective body of evidence supports" because we are not a court of law and it's up to the reader to decide which sources and evidence and reasoning support any particular viewpoint. I hope that no one contributing to this article will attempt to assert one particular POV as true, as that would violate Wikipedia's rule against taking sides.

We should merely describe each side's arguments fairly, summarizing their evidence and reasoning.

Now, as near as I can tell, most studies have found that "comprehensive" sex ed does no harm, and there are only 2 studies showing that "abstinence-only" does any good. This information needs to be in (and stay in) the article. --Uncle Ed (talk) 21:52, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for clarifying. I agree with what you've said here. Flies 1 (talk) 19:19, 20 June 2011 (UTC)
For reference, the relevant quotation from the NPOV FAQ is, "Wikipedia aims to present competing views in proportion to their representation in reliable sources on the subject." Thus, rather than assessing the evidence, our job as Wikipedians is supposed to be assessing the discourse. Flies 1 (talk) 21:07, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

Need cite for claims about comprehensive ed[edit]

Would it be possible for someone to track down some citations for the various assertions that abstinence-only proponents claim Comprehensive programs promote or lead to more premarital sex? I've heard the argument before, but it'd be nice to find some article somewhere so that it's not just original research. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 173.88.140.144 (talk) 10:27, 6 June 2011 (UTC)


You mean like what sort of organizations make these claims? Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 10:35, 6 June 2011 (UTC)

Is it still being funded and/or taught?[edit]

I've been doing some searching, and I can't find much in the way of stats on this topic. Are schools, by and large, teaching abstinence-only sex ed? I know my high school didn't. They DID teach that it was a good idea, but they also taught kids about the basic methods of birth control. Is this REALLY a big deal, or is this a political hot-potato that people are pushing when it's really not a problem. The only survey I could find on the topic says "parents are mostly happy with what their schools are teaching." If that's the case, why are people (many of them NOT parents of school age children) so up in arms about this? -- TomXP411[Talk] 00:12, 26 August 2011 (UTC)

Yes it is: Health bill restores $250 million in abstinence-education funds. AV3000 (talk) 13:51, 26 August 2011 (UTC)
But does funding = teaching? Are schools doing abstinence only, or are they doing some mix of abstinence-plus? I'm finding a lot of rhetoric, but no real facts on what schools actually teach today. With a school-age kid, I want to know what's really happening, not what the activists on either side are claiming. -- TomXP411[Talk] 22:58, 6 September 2011 (UTC)
$250 million is not pocket change. that level of government support makes this issue "really a big deal". Flies 1 (talk) 21:09, 18 June 2012 (UTC)
From what I've gathered, "abstinence-only" is a misnomer and--egad--seems like it might be a propaganda term used by its opponents. I mean, I grew up in the Bay Area in the '90s, so the main message was, "guys: use condoms, gals: use tampons, oh and don't have sex with too many people," so I don't know what they're being taught in Tennessee, but I also know how political pundits can spin, distort and even lie especially when it comes to impositions on their visions of sexual freedom. But that's just my opinion and I am biased. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Epiphone83 (talkcontribs) 06:13, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

a new study: "Efficacy of a Theory-Based Abstinence-Only Intervention Over 24 Months"[edit]

CONCLUSION: Theory-based abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in preventing adolescent sexual involvement.Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010 Feb;164(2):152-9.
--95.247.62.132 (talk) 07:11, 12 September 2011 (UTC)

ref does not work Doc James (talk · contribs · email) 17:43, 12 September 2011 (UTC)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20124144 — Preceding unsigned comment added by 95.250.54.120 (talk) 09:55, 13 September 2011 (UTC)

Abstinence education[edit]

First of all, the lack of a NPOV is obvious when you use the phrase "evidence does not support the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education," repeatedly. It also doesn't help when sources like the Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, are used without providing context as to who they are.

Anyway, what's far worse is that it's even called abstinence-only sex education and not simply "abstinence-education," as it's called in the SSA. It seems like "abstinence-only" was an invention of the program's opponents. It'd be like naming the "Strategic Defense Initiative" article "Star Wars (missile program)."

I mean, I'll be honest: I'm not neutral and I think a lot of the "confusion" (to put it mildly) is the result of political double-speak. But isn't Wikipedia supposed to be above that?

I do appreciate that an opponent agreed that it lacked a NPOV as well. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Epiphone83 (talkcontribs) 06:07, 18 August 2013 (UTC)

I'm a little unclear as to when the state of the evidence demands we cross the threshold from, e.g., "scholars say astrology doesn't work" to "evidence suggests astrology doesn't work" to "astrology doesn't work." That is, when does the weight of the evidence demand that a wikipedia article no longer couch a statement with "scholars say X" and merely state "X"? Leaving that question aside and erring on the side of caution (uncertainty), I have amended the effectiveness section to change from "evidence does not support the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex education" to "Systematic reviews suggest that abstinence-only sex education is ineffective." This reflects the state of the scholarly consensus without judging whether that consensus is accurate or not. If there is disagreement about whether this is the consensus, I am happy to learn about it. Flies 1 (talk) 19:05, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Redirects TO abstinence-only education. Should be the other way around.[edit]

I mean, I typed "abstinence education," and it linked to abstinence-only. This NEEDS to be fixed pronto. Like, it needs to be the other way around. Come on, guys. (75.18.193.140 (talk) 15:07, 18 August 2013 (UTC))

Major Page Update[edit]

I am going to be a doing a major update to this page for a class assignment. I will include my outline below. Overall my main areas of focus will be to bring in a global focus on this issue to see where the world stands on abstinence only sex education (ABSO) vs the US because the page is a little US heavy right now. In addition, I will be adding a gender perspective to this article as it neglects to discuss how the consequences differ for male vs females in the ABSO realm. As you can see in the outline below, I am keeping most of the current sections untouched - I simply want to add the global perspective and that of gender differences. This outline is preliminary and although I have done research I haven't completed it yet so I can't say what the entire result will look like. But this is for a class so it won't be half done, I will be putting a lot of time into these edits.

I am adding two sections under effectiveness that will specifically discuss the global north and the global south. The effectiveness of ABSO and STIs is very different when practiced in these two arenas. I'm then going to mirror the Sex Education page with the view of ABSO "around the world". These are the countries which I have good reason to think I will find the most data, but cannot be sure yet. Lastly, I will be adding the Gender Inequalities section. The sub sections are areas I hope to highlight, but the direction may change with further research.

1. Description

2. Background

3. Discussion

4. Effectiveness

a. Global North

i. STI/HIV prevention

ii. Unplanned pregnancy prevention

b. Global South

i. STI/HIV prevention

ii. Unplanned pregnancy prevention

5. Sex Education around the world

a. Africa

i. Uganda

ii. Sub-Saharan region

b. Asia

i. India

c. Europe

i. Netherlands

ii. France

d. Americas

i. United States

ii. Canada

e. Oceania

i. Australia

6. Gender Inequality Consequences

a. Ages of first sexual encounter

b. Extra-marital sex

c. Family Planning after marriage

Please let me know if you disagree with any of the proposed changes, would like to contribute or have references or articles (etc) that may be helpful. Thanks! 16:42, 5 March 2014 (UTC)U0552803 (talk)

Thanks for your efforts! Flies 1 (talk) 17:02, 10 March 2014 (UTC)

Proposal for Revision[edit]

I have decided to revise this page and the page on “Sex-Education in the United States as a part of a class assignment. I intend to broaden the scope of the article away from the United States and explore international efforts and campaigns, the role of religion, pros and cons of abstinence-only sex education, and funding. Basically, I would like to bring the attention of this article away from the United States and more toward global impact. There are a lot of great ideas proposed on the talk page that have not yet been addressed that seem like reasonable enough suggestions. One of the main issues I see brought up is the terminology and language of the article being biased in one way or another. I plan on ensuring that terms used are the current official terms being used by accredited organizations and that the revisions are on the side of objectivity and fact.

I plan on adding a “Legal definition” and “Comprehensive sex education” section under the existing “Description” heading. I will add sections on “Teen pregnancy”, “STI rates”, and “LGBTQ relationships” under the heading of “Effectiveness”. I have decided to split the section called “Discussion” into two sections; “Rationale”, with the subheading “Role of religion”, and “Criticism”. This should help clarify some of the points the article was trying to make by separating them into sides of the argument. I have also decided to add a “Global impact” section, with the subheadings “Role of religion in sex education outreach” and “Impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic”. Ideally, this will allow the article to expand to something more general than what is currently online. I would like to incorporate separate pages and links to the other page on which I will be working. I will integrate links to “Virginity pledges”, “Religious views on birth control” and “Teen pregnancy” into the article, which already exist in the “See also” section.

Is there any issue with any of these proposals? All contributions are welcome. Do you think that the "Impact on the HIV/AIDS epidemic warrants its own section or a note within another? BSchilling (talk) 07:39, 2 October 2014 (UTC)

Response to edits[edit]

Great work on the global impact section. If there is literature on it, I would add more information about the global impact of abstinence-only sex education, perhaps some statistics or the countries it effects, rather than focusing solely on one U.S. organization. You used a variety of sources to present a more diverse perspective, which was great. To further improve the quality of your article, focus on polishing up grammar and adding relevant images. I look forward to reading your future contributions! Aqjiang (talk) 21:04, 5 November 2014 (UTC)

Another response to edits[edit]

Thank so much for all of these great edits! I believe the most relevant things you can work on right is providing more specific details about the sources in the "Global Impact" section in order to improve Neutral Point of View. Other than that, a few grammar edits will make this page very comprehensive and accurate. Good work! Magenstat (talk) 00:24, 6 November 2014 (UTC)