Sunday, August 02, 2009

The dog is back

And while waiting to become one with the news again, here’s a couple of observations about the comments to MNO’s posts this past week.

The Dot took James to task over the latter’s claim teen pregnancies had increased under’s W’s abstinence regime in comments to MNO’s post When things don't work well in the bedroom, they don't work well in the living room, either. Dot said that teen pregnancy rate had declined under Clinton and had continued to decline under Bush.

The issue, of course, was the efficacy of abstinence-only sex education. That wasn’t exactly the subject of the post, but the commenters do tend to wander.

The Dot quoted some national statistics from the CDC, using data through 2004 and preliminary data through 2006. But if you pick around, you find that the case for abstinence-only sex education really isn’t good. Especially if you look in places where abstinence-only sex education is most popular. As Think Progress reports:

The Centers for Disease Control released a new report today that found that Mississippi “now has the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rate, displacing Texas and New Mexico for that lamentable title.” The report found that in 2006, the Mississippi teen pregnancy rate was over 60 percent higher than the national average and increased 13 percent since the year before.

While the new report does not explain why the state’s teen pregnancy rate is increasing, one reason may be the poor quality of its sex ed programs. As the Sexuality Information and Education Center explains, Mississippi focuses heavily on abstinence education and teachers are prohibited from demonstrating how to use contraceptives:

Mississippi schools are not required to teach sexuality education or sexually transmitted disease (STD)/HIV education. If schools choose to teach either or both forms of education, they must stress abstinence-until-marriage, including “the likely negative psychological and physical effects of not abstaining.” [...]

If the school board authorizes the teaching of contraception, state law dictates that the failure rates and risks of each contraceptive method must be included and “in no case shall the instruction or program include any demonstration of how condoms or other contraceptives are applied.

A reporter for ABC News’s Jackson, MS affiliate explained, “The Mississippi Department of Human Services says abstinence is the only birth control that is 100 percent effective. And that’s the only message teens need to hear.” Unfortunately, numerous studies show that abstinence-only education is not effective. As one study found:

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

And while Spot was using the Google, he also found this from July 21st of this year: Christian Right, Bush and Abstinence Education to Blame for Rising Teen Pregnancy. That’s a column in U.S. News and World Report by Bonnie Erbe. She, in turn, cites a U.K. Guardian article that has more recent statistics from the CDC:

Teenage pregnancies and syphilis have risen sharply among a generation of American school girls who were urged to avoid sex before marriage under George Bush's evangelically-driven education policy, according to a new report by the US's major public health body.

In a report that will surprise few of Bush's critics on the issue, the Centres for Disease Control says years of falling rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease infections under previous administrations were reversed or stalled in the Bush years. According to the CDC, birth rates among teenagers aged 15 or older had been in decline since 1991 but are up sharply in more than half of American states since 2005. The study also revealed that the number of teenage females with syphilis has risen by nearly half after a significant decrease while a two-decade fall in the gonorrhea infection rate is being reversed. The number of Aids cases in adolescent boys has nearly doubled.

The CDC says that southern states, where there is often the greatest emphasis on abstinence and religion, tend to have the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and STDs.

And there’s more:

In addition, about 16,000 pregnancies were reported among 10- to 14-year-old girls in 2004 and a similar number of young people in the age group reported having a sexually transmitted disease.

"It is disheartening that after years of improvement with respect to teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, we now see signs that progress is stalling and many of these trends are going in the wrong direction," said Janet Collins, a CDC director.

So, Dot, live the CDC, die by the CDC.

And to Dave’s hysterical blather about Israel being overrun by terrorists, Spot commends this post by Juan Cole about the expansionist Israeli mindset that has existed ever since 1948:

Israel's political tradition seeks expansion if possible; if not possible, it seeks a balance of power with its enemies. If that is not possible, it seeks to be held harmless from its avowed foes. If that is not possible, it is willing to wage total war to punish the enemy population until it accepts at least a cold peace. (I mean by "total war" war on the civilian population in which the guerrilla group is embedded, as for instance dropping a million cluster bombs on the farms of south Lebanon in 2006 or half-starving Gazan children in 2007-2008, methods illegal in international law but routinely deployed by Israeli leaders and defended by most Zionists everywhere.) Where necessary, Israel is willing to give up territorial expansion to get the cold peace.

Instead of Israel being overrun by terrorists, it’s the guerilla war that’s keeping the entire Occupied Territories from being swallowed up by the Israeli colonists. Or at least slowing it down. Spot has written about this too many times to link. Just put some appropriate search term, like “genocide” or “lebensraum” in the search box at the top of the site.

It’s nice to see you all, too, boys and girls.

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