Washington, DC – June 18, 2018 – A newly released report confirms that the Trump administration was on the right track last year when it announced it was pulling funding from comprehensive sex education grantees participating in the federal Teenage Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program.
“The research is clear and compelling. Comprehensive sex ed programs in school settings do not show evidence of effectiveness at reducing teen pregnancy or STDs, or increasing consistent condom use or abstinence,” said Dr. Stan Weed, PhD, the lead author of the study and director of the Institute for Research and Evaluation (IRE), which published the report.
The administration recently lost several court cases after cutting funding for the controversial TPP program two years early, with several more cases awaiting action in other courts. The courts have apparently not taken into account the data showing the ineffectiveness of these programs and the negative effects caused by an alarming number of them.
The Institute examined results of the best and most-recent studies of sex education programs in the United States, studies that were screened for research quality by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health and Human Services (HHS), or the United Nations (UNESCO).
“Out of the 41 school-based comprehensive sex education programs in the database, none showed a reduction in teen pregnancy or STDs for the intended population a year after the program. In addition, none of the programs showed effectiveness at increasing consistent condom use by teens, which is the behavior necessary for real protection from STDs. And, only two programs out of 41 increased teen abstinence after one year,” Weed said.
“Of greatest concern, six of these school-based comprehensive programs produced significant harmful effects on teen sexual health—including worse rates of teen pregnancy, condom use, sexual activity, or oral sex—yet three of these are still listed on the federal government’s Teenage Pregnancy Prevention website as evidence-based programs. While there is solid evidence about these programs, the evidence goes in the wrong direction. In fact, it seems to support the administration’s decision to halt this particular funding stream.”
The new report by IRE is an update of their ground-breaking analysis of sex education studies that was issued last year. According to Dr. Weed, “Other reviews of this research typically have used a very lenient standard for their claims of program effectiveness, such as: just one short-term effect, on any positive outcome, in a single study by the program’s developer, regardless of other contradictory findings.”
“Our review employed more rigorous standards, derived from the field of prevention research, to identify evidence of real program effectiveness: long-term positive effects on the intended population, without negative effects, based on all studies of the program, including those by independent evaluators. When this more credible definition of effectiveness is used to evaluate comprehensive programs in schools, there is very little evidence that they are keeping kids safe. The results are eye-opening to policymakers and parents.”
According to Sharon Slater, the president of Family Watch International, an organization that specializes in sex education issues, “Since the law requires federally funded sex education to be evidence-based and medically accurate, these programs should never have been eligible for federal funding in the first place.” Slater continued, “The courts should not be forcing the government to fund failed programs.”
Slater further explained, “In the name of prevention, the United States has been spending over $100 million each year on comprehensive sex education, yet according to the CDC, teen STDs are at a record high and rising, and one in four sexually active teenage girls has an STD. This should come as no surprise since many of these programs actually endorse high risk sexual behaviors. In fact, most parents are quite shocked when they see what their children are being taught, funded by tax payer dollars.” (See ComprehensiveSexualityEducation.org).
The Institute for Research and Evaluation will soon release the second phase of its research review, documenting a similar lack of evidence of success for comprehensive sex education in school settings worldwide, including programs in developing countries.