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Abstinence Education Programs Deemed Ineffective

An article published on the website citizenlink.org looks into a recent study released last week by Mathematica Polcy Research, a study that claims that anstinence-only education is not effective in delaying sexual activity among unmarried youth. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services commissioned Mathematica to evaluate the programs after 10 years, and Mathematica has recently declared the programs it examined to be ineffective and potentially medically inaccurate. However, the executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association claims that only four out of over 700 abstinence education programs were examined in the study.

The lead in the article establishes both viewpoints in the same graph, which is pretty much how the article then proceeds to do things. It gives a summary of the Mathematica group's findings, and then goes in to give the opinions of those who support the program, using forms of direct attribution to show their opinions. The director of the National Abstinence Education Association is quoted, as well as an analyst for sexual health at Focus on the Family Action. It's a short peice that reveals the group's findings and then present's another side's reaction.

Coverage of the issue in a column featured at slate.com is much more in-depth, actually giving information about the nature of the study and more figures about exactly how much money is being plugged into these types of programs. In the past decade, the federal government has spent over 1 billion dollars of taxpayers' money on these programs, which, according to the four examples examined by the study at least, have no effect. This is the main focal point of the article, as well as the nature of the funding that states receive for these programs. No coverage is given to the other side of the argument, as the research done by the group commissioned by the government is basically treated as it should be-that is, trusted. There's a much more opinionated slant to the way the facts are reported.

I prefer the cover of the issue on the slat.ecom page because of the level of detail it goes into about the figures being paid for the programs, the testing conducted by the Mathematica Group, and how the funding for the programs works. Having this level of detail helps the reader get a better understanding of the issues in question. I think coverage of this subject is important, because to be spending such a large sum of money on something that is being shown to potentially be largely ineffective is distressing, and such decisions deserve scrutiny and evaluation.