Contrary to the narrative that has been so adamantly pushed forward by the Obama administration, it seems that Condom Distribution Programs among teens are not as effective as originally thought. Thanks to the benefits of new research based in longitudinal data, two Notre Dame economists published a study which, “found that school districts that instituted condom distribution programs in the early 1990s saw significant increases in the teen-fertility rate.”
The study itself included a number of large, urban school districts, all of whom saw rises in teen-fertility rate of ten to twelve percent when said curriculum was implemented. This is, of course, exactly what the programs themselves were hoping to prevent. Importantly, the new research relied upon data gathered over an extended period of time, following children as they moved throughout the schooling process. While longitudinal research such as this study will always take more time to compile and analyze, it paints a much clearer picture of what curriculum is, in fact, valuable. This data has the ability to expose much of the current consensus as sensationalist, politically motivated, and perhaps even biased.
The study appears to show an entirely different understanding of Sex Education than the so-called “evidence based” approach that President Obama’s administration has been behind since its 2009 list of approved programs. Of the forty-four methods currently on the list of acceptable Sex Education programs, only two include Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education. Sexual Risk Avoidance, although in the past it has been heavily criticized by government officials, focuses on the promotion of abstinence as a major portion of the Sex Education process. Insofar as government programs are able to effectively educate youth on such delicate topics, SRA curriculum is the most tolerable. This methodology deserves to be looked at as a viable alternative to the current curriculum, considering the obvious failures shown in a growing number of recent studies.
As new research continues to shed further light into teen culture throughout the United States, it is important to remember how crucial it is to rely on robust, longitudinal data when it comes to Sex Education, as this recent study has done. By taking an honest look at the trends that are developing overtime with teens, we can more accurately assess the real consequences of policies that promote free contraceptives to children.
What new research shows, and what government officials need to take notice of, is the glaring ineffectiveness of non-SRA methodologies. Policies should endeavor to reflect sound evidence in determining what is best for children, and it would appear that Condom Distribution Programs lack heavily in that respect.
By Cameron Dominy
Cameron Dominy is a 2016 Summer Intern at The Virginia Family Foundation, and the Governor of the South Carolina Student Legislature.