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ABSTINENCE-ONLY CURRICULA WORKS

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In response to Allan Anderson (Forum, May 26), I'm sure his intentions are good; his facts are not. His response to Gayle Ruzicka, Eagle Forum and sex education are based on emotion, not fact.

In 1970, the U.S. government looked at its own data on teen sexual activity collected by the Department of Health and Human Services. They were alarmed at the rapidly escalating rates. They allocated Title X monies for comprehensive sex education. These programs threw everything at our kids - exposure to the intricacies of human intercourse and its deviations, contraception, abortion, alternate lifestyles, etc. In 10 years, the federal government looked at the data again and found that the rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion were all much higher. In fact, the data revealed that the more they spent on education, the more teen sexual activity they got.In 1980, the government allocated Title XX monies for abstinence-only curricula. Ten years later, in 1990, they looked at the data once more and found that out of 1,000 high school-age girls who had received Title X or comprehensive sex education, by graduation 113 of them would be or have been pregnant. Of 1,000 high school girls who had had Title XX or abstinence education, by graduation four would be or have been pregnant.

In 1991 when the Utah State Office of Education presented the high school component of "Human Sexuality," we asked a state school board member to take it to Washington, D.C., to the Office of Adolescent Pregnancy Programs. This is the office that determines whether a curriculum is comprehensive or abstinence-based and whether it receives Title X or Title XX money. They labeled it a "Title X type" program and said it would harm Utah children. A pilot program run in Utah by Dr. Stan Weed of the Institute of Research and Evaluation also shows that abstinence programs are vastly more effective with Utah's youth. The State Office is calling their junior high component of "Human Sexuality" an abstinence program. Of over 60 pages, 11/2 are devoted to abstinence directly.

We need to teach sex ed the way we teach drug ed - just say no. Instead, what I hear Mr. Anderson saying is that we should say abstinence is a good idea but let's teach contraception, etc., because we don't have the faith in our young people that they can make healthful and good decisions. Do we want to rob them of the dignity of making decisions based on values or do we want to treat them like an animal in heat and tell them to run with the pack?

Lauri Updike

Provo