Ben Johnson

Abstinence education reduces teen sex rates, study shows

Ben Johnson
Ben Johnson
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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 4, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – As states from Utah to Illinois debate the content of their public school’s sex education courses, a new study finds an abstinence course reduces teen sexual activity and reinforces healthy attitudes.

Researchers observed more than 1,100 ninth graders in Georgia who used the Choosing the Best (CTB) curriculum in 2009-10.

“Data demonstrated significant impact of CTB at the end of 9th grade on commitment to abstinence, pro-abstinence beliefs and attitudes, intentions to maintain abstinence, and lower onset of sexual intercourse, and at the beginning of 10th grade on pro-abstinence attitudes,” the study‘s authors found.

Drs. Lisa Lieberman and Haiyan Su of Montclair State University said CTB uses “medically accurate” information to emphasize that “abstinence from sexual activity until marriage is the best way to avoid teen pregnancy, disease, and possible negative emotional consequences, and is the best way to help students focus on academic and other future-oriented goals.”

The abstinence-only program delayed first sexual behavior and improved attitudes in only one year, although it is designed as a multi-year program beginning in the sixth grade.

Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, told LifeSiteNews.com that expression can be misleading. “When a study reports their findings delayed the onset of sexual activity, that’s how they describe the overall finding as averaged across the entire population they are studying,” he said. “What that may mean is that there are some students who are abstaining until adulthood or perhaps even until marriage. When you average that across a population, the ones who are abstaining and the ones who don’t, it comes across as a later onset, a delayed average.”

“Some kids really do take these messages to heart and do abstain,” he said.

The authors noted girls tended to hold more strongly pro-abstinence views than boys. There was no racial or ethnic difference in onset of sexual intercourse.

“The negative outcomes associated with early sexual activity are much greater at the younger ages and then decline the older a person is when they begin sexual activity. So, there is definite value in encouraging someone who is 13 to wait until they are 16 or 18 or 21 to have sex, even if they don’t abstain all the way to marriage.”

Prior sexual activity most affected the program’s effectiveness. “Among pretest virgins, there was a lower onset of sexual intercourse by the end of ninth grade,” according to the conclusion published last month in the SAGE Open journal. “Among students already sexually active, there was a short-term treatment effect on intentions, but not sexual behavior.”

Lieberman and Su surveyed participants at the beginning and end of ninth grade and again at the beginning of tenth grade. More than one-quarter of the ninth graders who participated were already sexually active.

They recommended the program be observed after being offered over several years, beginning in the sixth grade, when 95 percent of students have not yet had sexual intercourse.

Sprigg said while “advocates of so-called comprehensive education advocate teaching very explicit information about sexuality at very young ages – younger than most kids would even be thinking about sex, I would think by 7th or 8th grade it’s a time when the issue should be addressed, because unfortunately kids that young are becoming sexually active in some cases.”

The study’s success reassured Valerie Huber, executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA). “This new study adds to 22 other peer reviewed studies showing SRA [Sexual Risk Avoidance] education has a positive impact on student sexual behavior,” she said. “This rigorous research design adds an important exclamation point to the efficacy of abstinence-centered education.”
 
Meanwhile, researchers say the Obama administration stonewalled releasing another report that showed abstinence attitudes positively impact teens. In 2009, the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), funded a study of more than 1,000 young people aged 12-18 but refused to release the results until 2011, even following a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. It found that parental and peer attitudes do more to shape teens’ views of sex and abstinence than “adolescent exposure to sex and abstinence topics in a class or program.”

“Their anti-abstinence position is just as political, if not more so, than the pro-abstinence position of conservatives,” Sprigg told LifeSiteNews. “The liberals often claim it is conservatives who are anti-science, but when the research and the science goes against their ideological position, they are very eager to suppress the findings.”

“Anyone who opposes SRA abstinence-centered education must be honest in their antagonism,” Huber stated. “They can no longer say that the approach ‘doesn’t work,’ but must admit that their opposition is simply an ideological distaste for programs that encourage teens to wait for sex.” 

CTB has been used by more than three million middle and high school students in 48 states since 1993.


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Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." Shutterstock
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‘Sick and twisted’: Down’s advocates, pro-life leaders slam Richard Dawkins’ abortion remarks

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By Dustin Siggins

Advocates on behalf of individuals with Down syndrome, as well as pro-life leaders, are slamming famed atheist Richard Dawkin’s statements made on Twitter earlier today that parents have a moral responsibility to abort babies diagnosed in utero with Down’s.

During a shocking Twitter rant, Dawkins responded to questioners saying that it was "civilised" to abort Down Syndrome babies, and that it would be "immoral" to choose not to abort babies diagnosed with the condition.

He said that his goal is to "reduce suffering wherever you can," indicating that unborn children cannot suffer, and that unborn children don't "have human feelings."

In addition to being scientifically challenged - unborn children can feel both pain and emotions - Dawkins' comments drew criticism for his callousness towards children with disabilities.  

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus"

“It's sick and twisted for anyone to advocate for the killing of children with disabilities,” Live Action President Lila Rose told LifeSiteNews. “Dawkins's ignorant comments serve only to further stigmatize people with Down syndrome.

“While many people with Down syndrome, their families, and advocacy groups are fighting discrimination on a daily basis, Dawkins calls for their murder before they are even born,” she said. “Those with Down syndrome are human beings, with innate human dignity, and they, along with the whole human family, deserve our respect and protection.”

Carol Boys, chief executive of the Down's Syndrome Association, told MailOnline that, contrary to Dawkins’ assertion, “People with Down’s syndrome can and do live full and rewarding lives, they also make a valuable contribution to our society.”

A spokesperson for the UK disabilities charity Scope lamented that during the “difficult and confusing time” when parents find out they are expecting a child with disabilities, they often experience “negative attitudes.”

“What parents really need at this time is sensitive and thorough advice and information,” the spokesperson said.

Charlotte Lozier Institute president Chuck Donovan agreed with Rose’s assessment. "Advocates of abortion for those 'weaker' than others, or of less physical or intellectual dexterity, should remember that each of us is 'lesser' in some or most respects," he said.

According to Donovan, "we deliver a death sentence on all of humanity by such cruel logic."

"A true civilization – a civilization of love – does not engage in such cold and ultimately suicidal calculus" he said.

One family who has a child with Down syndrome said Dawkins was far from the mark when he suggested that aborting babies with Down syndrome is a good way to eliminate suffering.

Jan Lucas, whose son Kevin has Down syndrome, said that far from suffering, Kevin has brought enormous joy to the family, and "is so loving. He just has a million hugs."

She described how Kevin was asked to be an honorary deacon at the hurch they attend in New Jersey, “because he is so encouraging to everyone. At church, he asks people how their families are, says he'll pray for them, and follows up to let them know that he has been praying for them."

It's not just strangers for whom Kevin prays. "My husband and I were separated for a time, and Kevin kept asking people to pray for his dad," said Jan. "They didn't believe that Kevin's prayers would be answered. Kevin didn't lose hope, and asking people, and our marriage now is better than ever before. We attribute it to Kevin's prayers, and how he drew on the prayers of everyone."

"I don't know what we'd do without him," said Jan.

Speaking with LifeSiteNews, Kevin said that his favorite things to do are "spending time with my family, and keeping God in prayer." He said that he "always knows God," which helps him to "always keep praying for my friends."

"I love my church," said Kevin.

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome described themselves as "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child.

Despite this, it is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 


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Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that 'it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.' Shutterstock
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Pope Francis: steps must be taken to halt ‘unjust aggressor’ in Iraq

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Pope Francis and his emissary to Iraq’s persecuted non-Muslim minorities, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, have both called on the United Nations to act in concert to protect Iraqis Christian and Yazidi minorities from the radical Islamic forces of ISIS.

Asked about Iraq on his return flight from South Korea, Francis replied that “it is legitimate to halt the unjust aggressor.”

He added, however, that “halt” does not mean to “bomb” and lamented “how many times with the excuse of halting the unjust aggressor…have powerful nations taken possession of peoples and waged a war of conquest!”

He also cautioned that no single nation could determine the right measures. Any intervention must be multilateral and preferably by the United Nations, he said.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Foloni, who is visiting Iraq on behalf of Pope Francis, issued a joint statement this week with Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako and the Iraqi bishops that urged the international community to “liberate the villages and other places that have been occupied as soon as possible and with a permanent result.”

The statement also urged efforts to “assure that there is international protection for these villages and so to encourage these families to go back to their homes and to continue to live a normal life in security and peace.”

Archbishop Giorgio Lingua, the Vatican nuncio to Iraq, was also asked by Vatican Radio earlier this month about the U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

“This is something that had to be done, otherwise [the Islamic State] could not be stopped,” the archbishop said. 

Although Pope Francis’ own remarks about an intervention in the war-torn country were carefully guarded, Catholic commentator Robert Spencer, author of such bestselling exposes of Islam as “The Truth About Muhammad: Founder of the World's Most Intolerant Religion,” told LifeSiteNews he believes the pope was clearly calling for an “armed intervention, though a very limited one.”  

“Only a fool would think there is another way to stop an ‘unjust aggressor,’” he said.

Spencer expressed concerns that both Francis and Pope John Paul II before him have both referred to Islam a “religion of peace,” which Spencer says is “completely false.” However, he suggested that Francis’ remarks calling for action in Iraq are a sign of a more realistic attitude towards Islam.   

On this, Spencer would likely have the support of Amel Nona, the Chaldean Catholic archbishop of Mosul, who issued a letter last week warning the West in stark terms about the encroaching threat of Islam.

“Our sufferings today are the prelude of those you, Europeans and Western Christians, will also suffer,” Nona warned. “Your liberal and democratic principles are worth nothing here.

“You must consider again our reality in the Middle East, because you are welcoming in your countries an ever growing number of Muslims. Also you are in danger. You must take strong and courageous decisions, even at the cost of contradicting your principles,” he said

“You think all men are equal, but that is not true: Islam does not say that all men are equal. Your values are not their values. If you do not understand this soon enough, you will become the victims of the enemy you have welcomed in your home.”


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'Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses,' said Dawkins. 'They are aborted.' Shutterstock
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Richard Dawkins: it’s ‘immoral’ NOT to abort babies with Down syndrome

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By Dustin Siggins

In a bizarre rant on Twitter earlier today, atheist Richard Dawkins wrote that choosing not to abort a child with Down Syndrome would be "immoral."

The conversation started when Dawkins tweeted that "Ireland is a civilised country except in this 1 area." The area was abortion, which until last year was illegal in all cases.

A Twitter user then asked Dawkins if "994 human beings with Down's Syndrome [having been] deliberately killed before birth in England and Wales in 2012" was "civilised."

Dawkins replied "yes, it is very civilised. These are fetuses, diagnosed before they have human feelings."

Later, Dawkins said that "the question is not ‘is it 'human'?’ but ‘can it SUFFER?’"

In perhaps the most shocking moment, one Twitter user wrote that he or she "honestly [doesn't] know what I would do if I were pregnant with a kid with Down Syndrome. Real ethical dilemma."

Dawkins advised the writer to "abort it and try again. It would be immoral to bring it into the world if you have the choice."

According to Dawkins, the issue of who should be born comes down to a calculation based upon possible suffering. "Yes. Suffering should be avoided. [The abortion] cause[s] no suffering. Reduce suffering wherever you can."

Later, however, he said that people on the autism spectrum "have a great deal to contribute, Maybe even an enhanced ability in some respects. [Down Syndrome] not enhanced."

When Dawkins received some blowback from Twitter followers, he replied: "Apparently I'm a horrid monster for recommending WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS to the great majority of Down Syndrome fetuses. They are aborted."

It is estimated that in many Western countries the abortion rate of children diagnosed in utero with Down syndrome is 90%, or even higher. The development of new and more accurate tests for the condition has raised concerns among Down syndrome advocates that that number could rise even higher. 

Although it is widely believed that people with Down syndrome are doomed to a life of suffering, in one large survey 99% of respondents with Down syndrome said they were "happy." At the same time, 99% percent of parents said they loved their child with Down syndrome, and 97 percent said they were proud of them.

Only 4 percent of parents who responded said they regretted having their child. 

A number of Dawkins' statements in the Twitter thread about fetal development are at odds with scientific realities. For example, it is well-established that 20 weeks into a pregnancy, unborn children can feel pain. Likewise, unborn children have emotional reactions to external stimuli -- such as a mother's stress levels -- months before being born. 

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