August 18, 2010 Print
CitizenLink

Obama Administration Blocks Release of Pivotal HHS Abstinence Study

by Catherine Snow

The Obama administration is, once again, entangled in controversy over sex education.

Yet this time, it is not about what the administration is trying to implement, but about what it is withholding – and apparently for political reasons.

A taxpayer-funded study that indicates parental and adolescent support of abstinence education is not being released by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as it does not support the administration’s objective – or that of vocal “safe sex” activists – of eliminating all abstinence-education funding.

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), a division of HHS, funded a survey of 1,000 adolescents between the ages of 12 and 18 and their parents, in order to measure parent-adolescent communication and adolescent attitudes toward sex and abstinence.

The American Public Health Association’s (APHA) website reveals the only is results of the survey:

“Adjusting for all other factors in the model, parent and peer factors are more consistently associated with differences in adolescent attitudes about sex and abstinence than are measures of adolescent exposure to sex and abstinence topics in a class or program.

Additionally, parent attitudes are more important in influencing adolescent views than the level of parent communication with their adolescent.”

The executive summary revealed that:

  • 70 percent of parents agreed with the statement: “It is against your values for your adolescents to have sexual intercourse before marriage.
  • 70 percent of parents agreed with the statement: “Having sexual intercourse is something only married people should do.”
  • Adolescents had similar responses for the two questions.

During an APHA conference, researcher Lisa Rue, Ph.D., who specializes in adolescent behavior, was intrigued by the study and requested the full report. She was summarily denied access.

Rue then resorted to submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which was also denied because it was “pre-decisional and deliberative” – even though it was presented in public twice.

“We have to know cultural norms and values before we ever do any kind of research, or develop initiatives,” Rue said. “If you ignore that, you’re ignoring a premise, a key premise in evaluation science and research.”

Rue wrote an op-ed piece in her local newspaper, demanding the report be released.

Chad Hills, a social policy analyst with CitizenLink, said it is unfortunate that HHS has chosen not to release this valuable study to researchers – or to the public.

“This information would better inform policymakers concerning the standard which a majority of the public wants them to uphold in public education,” he said. “If they are not fully informed, how can they establish good policies?”

Hills also said that social science research demonstrates that the healthiest, highest expected standard for sexual behavior is within the context of a lifelong marriage.

“To undermine this standard by promoting casual sex is to undermine the stability of the family and, ultimately society,” he said.

TAKE ACTION
Please contact ACF and request “The National Survey of Adolescents and Their Parents” report by completing this easy, online FOIA request.

The entire process takes about five minutes.

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read more about the Obama Administration’s sex education programs.

Read an Aug. 2 editorial by Dr. Lisa Rue, in the Times Call.

Read the Research summary.



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