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Thursday, May 10, 2007
WND Promotes Skewed Abstinence Poll
Topic: WorldNetDaily

A May 8 WorldNetDaily article promoted a "Zogby Poll done for the National Abstinence Education Association" which claimed that "nine out of 10 parents agree being sexually abstinent is best for their child's health and future and, mostly, believe the message to wait is lost when sex education teaches the use of contraceptives." The article quotes Valerie Huber, the association's executive director, as saying that the poll "also reveals the preference for abstinence-only education programs rises sharply – from 40 percent to 60 percent – when parents understand that sex education programs encompassing contraceptives do encourage sexual activity."

But a closer look at the poll shows it to be, in essence, a push poll designed to elicit that response.

Of course, since the National Abstinence Education Association paid Zogby for this poll, the entire point is to obtain results that conform with their agenda, and a look at the poll questions show how that was done. Before the survey got to the que4stion asking whether "Sex Education classes in public schools should place more emphasis on promoting abstinence rather than on condom and other contraceptive use" (question 18), respondents were targeted with a series of questions with scary, unsupported and/or unexplained claims:

7. According to the publication Contraceptive Technology, among typical couples using condoms for birth control, more than one in ten become pregnant each year. Do you ... that your child should be educated on how often condoms fail to prevent pregnancy based upon typical use?

8. Since adults only use condoms consistently less than 50% of the time, according to a study done by the University of California Berkeley, it is even less likely for teens to correctly use a condom every single time they have sex[?]

10. According to the Centers for Disease Control, condoms do not offer 100% protection against any sexually transmitted disease or STD. Do you ... that your child should be instructed on the limitations of condoms in preventing specific STDs?

12. Do you ... that promoting different forms of sexual activity in sex education classes, such as showering together and mutual masturbation as alternatives to intercourse encourages sexual activity among teens?

The poll questions also, without evidence, unfavorably compare comprehensive sex education with abstinence-only sex ed:

19. If you knew that typical Comprehensive Sex Education programs spend as little as 5% of the time teaching abstinence, while instead, some programs spend much more time teaching students how to put condoms on models of male genitalia, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

20. If you knew that typical Abstinence Education Courses place a higher emphasis on building healthy relationships, bolstering self worth and self-control, rather than on condom usage skills, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

21. If you knew that some Comprehensive Sex Education courses may advise students to experiment with different flavors and colors of condoms as part of its sex education, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

22. If you knew that typical Abstinence Education Courses teach teens how to develop healthy relationships to improve their chances for a healthy future marriage, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

23. If you knew that some Comprehensive Sex Education teaches and promotes alternative forms of sexual activity, called outercourse, which may include showering together and mutual masturbation as effective ways to avoid pregnancy and disease, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

24. If you knew that typical Abstinence Education Courses teach how an unplanned pregnancy and/or contracting sexually transmitted diseases can negatively affect a teen's future physically, financially, and emotionally, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

25. If you knew that typical Abstinence Education Courses teach teens about increasing their self-worth as a method for reducing premarital sexual activity, would you be ... to support teaching Abstinence Education in place of Comprehensive Sex Education?

The poll offers respondents no evidence for its attacks on comprehensive sex ed, nor does it raise questions about the effectiveness of abstinence-only sex ed (remember who paid for the poll). Indeed, a week after the polling was completed, a congressional study reported that abstinence-only sex ed does not keep teenagers from having sex, nor does it increase or decrease the likelihood that if they do have sex, they will use a condom.

In other words, the Zogby study is too biased to be meaningful to anyone other than pro-abstinence, anti-comprehensive sex ed activists.


Posted by Terry K. at 12:40 AM EDT

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