HHS to Communities: Let the Fun(d) Begin!

Barb Wire

There’s a reason Congress agreed to fund more abstinence education — the alternative isn’t working! In a report last year from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), America experienced its first uptick in teen sexual activity a few years after the president kicked off his radical sex education experiment. Almost immediately after taking office, the modest slice of federal abstinence funding that was available under President Bush was zeroed out by the Obama administration.

But there are ten million reasons to be optimistic about the direction of these programs, now that Health and Human Services has announced a new funding stream for sexual risk avoidance.

In one of the few bits of positive news to come out of the omnibus spending bill last December, our conservative friends managed to set aside a relatively small pool of money for reinforcing the positive messages of healthy decision making. The $10 million in community-based grants will be spread over a three-year period so that educators can study the positive effects of this kind of sexual risk avoidance. Unlike liberal sex ed, which seems to promote more bad behavior than it prevents, these programs take a holistic approach. Instead of just telling students to say no to sex, the new grants are designed to “teach the benefits associated with self-regulation, success sequencing for poverty prevention, healthy relationships, goal setting, and resisting sexual coercion, dating violence, and other youth risk behaviors such as underage drinking or illicit drug use without normalizing teen sexual activity.”

Valerie Huber, who heads up Ascend, was thrilled that Congressmen Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Joe Pitts (R-Pa.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) went to bat for this funding in the omnibus. “We are encouraged that Congress is committed to reinforcing and amplifying the good decisions of the majority of youth,” she said. Most teens have not had sex — and that percentage has increased more than 15% over the past 20 years.”

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And the idea isn’t just popular with parents, but kids too. Four in 10 teens feel like liberal sex education pressures them to have sex. In fact, the Barna Group explains, 32 percent of young people say they felt more pressure to engage in sex from their sex ed curriculum than from their boyfriends or girlfriends! Yet that’s the message that 90 percent of our tax dollars are sending. Although the Left’s idea of “pregnancy prevention” still rakes in $9 for every $1 in sexual risk avoidance, it’s still a step in the right direction. Our teenagers need to know how to make positive decisions of all kinds, and while engaged parents are the best way to direct this decision, these programs are valuable backstops.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Tony Perkins
Tony Perkins is president of the Washington, D.C.-based Family Research Council. He is a former member of the Louisiana legislature where he served for eight years, and he is recognized as a legislative pioneer for authoring measures like the nation’s first Covenant Marriage law. (Via FRC’s Washington Update. Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.)

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