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Abstinence-only programs inadequate, Bleakley writes

Federal funding of abstinence-only education is fiscally, politically and scientifically irresponsible, writes Amy Bleakley in a column published in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer.

Bleakley, a research scientist in the Health Communication Group of the Annenberg Public Policy Center, notes that studies confirm the programs are ineffective in preventing or delaying sexual activity among teens. They are losing political support among some of the nation’s governors, despite continued backing by the White House.  Bleakley cites research she and her colleagues conducted last fall that showed eight out of 10 Americans support programs that teach students what they need to know about sex — how to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Seven out of 10 favor instruction in condom use.  That support spanned religious and political spectra.

“Talking about sex and teaching youth about contraception does not encourage sexual activity,” writes Bleakley.  “It encourages responsibility.”