Trixie Films welcomes Aggie, our newest intern, and graduate film student at Temple University. We're so excited to be working with her (even though it's mostly via Skype and email!) Here's her first, but we hope not her last, post...
A new twist on an old refrain: A new study at UPenn finds that an "abstinence-until-you-are-'responsible-to-handle-the-consequences-of-sex'" intervention - among a very select group of urban, African American pre-teens - has significant effects in delaying the period of sexual initiation in this (select) group of youth.
As very concisely and clearly described in a Guttmacher Institute review of this study, while Dr. Jemmott, et al.'s research seems to provide - at last! - evidence in support of Bush-era abstinence-only programs, such a study would not have been funded by the Bush administration. As the researchers themselves point out, the study did not call for students to wait until marriage to have sex, did not disparage the use of contraception, and, oddly, did not equate sexuality with immorality. Back to the drawing board!
What seems the most peculiar component to this research and the most glaring omission from the NPR story is that nobody is asking why the researchers chose to limit their population to urban, African American youth!? And what are they claiming in doing so? Would it be a stretch to assume that the study is founded upon an ideology that holds racial differences to be inherent? People of different races/cultures learn differently and have sex differently and should receive interventions differently, the study suggests, so much so that we have to control for race/culture and focus on one Census Bureau grouping at a time - one day Asian Indian, one day Samoan, and one day "Some Other Race" [groupings taken from actual 2010 Census form]!
The Guttmacher Institute's review of the study cites this passage from the original research paper:
“The generalizability of the results may be limited to African American students in grades 6 and 7 who are willing to take part in a health promotion project on weekends. Whether the results would be similar with older adolescents or those of other races or in other countries is unclear.” (p. 158)
Eh, who needs clarity.