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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

APAM: Abstinence works

Legislation


“Theory-based abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in preventing adolescent sexual involvement.”

That is the conclusion of a new abstinence study released this week in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (APAM).

The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of an abstinence-only intervention in preventing sexual behavior by young adolescents. A random trial was conducted in urban public schools with a total of 662 African American students in grades 6 and 7.

Students were split into four different interventions plus a control group during a 24-month period: An 8-hour abstinence-only intervention targeted reduced sexual intercourse; an 8-hour safer sex–only intervention targeted increased condom use; 8-hour and 12-hour comprehensive interventions targeted sexual intercourse and condom use; and an 8-hour health-promotion control intervention targeted health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.

The study measured self-reporting on the part of the participants about their sexual behavior during that time, including intercourse.

Here is the major finding: The abstinence-only intervention reduced by about 33 percent the percentage of students who reported ever having sexual intercourse by the end of the 24-month study period.

Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage summed up the results: “The abstinence-only approach, in this one rigorous study, was the only one that ‘worked’.”

In light of this study that Gallgher calls, “the gold standard for intervention research, a bright and shining pinnacle of research design that social science seldom ever reaches,” Gallagher poses the following: “Will President Obama step forward to restore abstinence-only funding?”

Noting that critics of abstinence programs abound, Gallagher writes in the National ReviewSo I would like to propose this as the new minimum standard for government-backed social programs: not one dime unless you can show at least one random-assignment study that demonstrates effectiveness. Oops, there goes Head Start. Oops, there goes, er . . . most of the budget deficit?The standards of science are trotted out only to swat down policies that support sexually conservative ideas. They are almost never applied to progressive ideas. And never to sexually liberal ideas, ever.”

Here in Wisconsin, a state statute I authored about abstinence is in serious jeopardy. Governor Doyle is poised to sign legislation into law making dramatic changes in the way sex education is taught in our public schools. 

Reducing the emphasis on abstinence in our school is inherently risky and will have severe implications for the health and welfare of our youth.

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