Kaiser Embraces Abstinence Education?

June 5, 2006

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

Well, maybe the word embraces is too strong to describe Kaiser Network’s publication of a summary of the recent Washington Times article on sex education.

Then again, embraces abstinence pretty well sums up the impact of Kaiser’s summary posted on their Daily Women’s Health Policy Listing, reporting positively on the Times article that “examines ‘holistic’ approaches to preventing teen pregnancy.”

Perhaps I’m wrestling with the language a bit because I doubt Kaiser realizes that it has its arms locked around abstinence education in a big ol’ “I Love You, Man” kind of bear hug.

This is a very big deal for those familiar with Kaiser Network’s traditional editorial bias opposing abstinence education in favor of programs willing to promise teens condoms will provide saf-er-er-er sex.  Hence, we take the liberty of saying that Kaiser, a major national health network, perhaps unintentionally, now embraces abstinence education.  They do.  They really do!

The Times story reported on two “holistic” approaches to preventing teen pregnancy in the U.S.  Based on information from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, these “holistic” approaches finally acknowledge that it is not enough to focus on “managing the health risks of sex.”

The big news for Kaiser is that these “holistic” approaches include “relationship skills” in their sex-education programs.  “Teens hear about biology and body parts,” Kaiser quotes, but they are also learning the importance of “how to achieve responsible and respectful relationships.”  Psychologist Michael Carrera advises Times readers “that the best way to prevent teen pregnancy is to ‘move from fragmentation…to wholeness.’”

The bigger news for Kaiser should be that this is not new news.  This is the foundation and core of the many quality abstinence curricula developed over the past 15 years, since founders of abstinence education declared that the “body parts” approach to sex education was inadequate at the least…and irresponsible at the worst.

Of course, those attacking abstinence education have been fundamentally opposed to abstinence programs for precisely this reason…that they teach teens the importance of “how to achieve responsible and respectful relationships.”

Hopefully, Kaiser is also taking note of mounting evidence demonstrating the need to teach young people about healthy relationships in the context of healthy marriages.  A recent Gallup poll finds that nearly all U.S. adults – 91% – either have been married or plan to get married one day.

Meanwhile, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention involved more than 12,000 men and women and investigated their attitudes about marriage.  Survey results released in May show that men (66%), even more than women (51%), agreed that “it is better to get married than go through life single.”  Moreover, men (76%) and women (72%) agreed that “it is more important for a man to spend a lot of time with his family than be successful at his career.”

This is good news for the children of married parents.  The CDC survey also found that among fathers in their first marriage, 90% live with their kids.  They are involved with their kids…from feeding to bathing to helping with homework and taking them to activities.  Other major research consistently proves that children living with their biological fathers are less likely to engage in risky behaviors…including teen sex.

Commitment to marriage and families is also good news for married men.  On June 1, UPI reported on a study in Denmark that found “the death rate among divorced men in their 40s is twice as high as it is for other men in the same age group.  Alcohol and suicide accounted for many of the deaths, and one-fourth were caused by heart disease.  “Rikke Lund, a senior researcher who was in charge of the study, said that given the findings, Denmark should do more to keep marriages together.”

Well, Kaiser, the good news for all of us is that abstinence education has and continues to bring all of this medical and relational information together into a “holistic” message of wellness for adolescents.  One curricula cited in the Times article, “Love U2” has been on the Arizona approved list for years for use in abstinence programs.

Marlene Pearson, founder of the LoveU2 Program, also teaches social science in Wisconsin.  She finds teens eager to hear more about love, intimacy, and ethical consequences of sex.  She tells the Times, teens already know “a messed-up love life can certainly mess up other parts of your life.”

Adults, says Pearson, need to tell teens there’s a “simple formula” that can help them fulfill their goals in love.  This “sequence for success” is to “graduate from high school (at least), don’t have a baby until you are married, and don’t marry during the teen years.”

Well, Kaiser, it’s encouraging to find you sharing this important message about “holistic” approaches to sex education with those interested in health care.  Fortunately, you will be reassured that this is what the many nationally recognized abstinence curricula and programs in existence today are all about…the holistic message…healthy body, healthy mind, healthy spirit.

It’s taken a long time for this to happen.  But, whether they realize it or not, Kaiser Network has finally embraced abstinence education.  Yahoo!



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May 29, 2006  – Why Condoms Will Not Save Us

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