Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Are Americans Really That Sex-Crazed?

This story on the front page of this morning set a few alarm bells ringing in my head. Not because I was afraid it might be right. Indeed, something rang a bell when I read this study was publicized by the Guttmacher Institute. I could not understand why but for some reason I had this feeling born of a vague memory that there was some relationship between the Guttmacher Institute, who conducted the study and Planned Parenthood.

I was right.

Here is some info from their website to get you acquainted with the Guttmacher Institute:

The Guttmacher Institute is a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and public education. The Guttmacher Institute publishes Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, International Family Planning Perspectives, The Guttmacher Policy Review and special reports on topics pertaining to sexual and reproductive health and rights. The Institute's mission is to protect the reproductive choices of all women and men in the United States and throughout the world. It is to support their ability to obtain the information and services needed to achieve their full human rights, safeguard their health and exercise their individual responsibilities in regard to sexual behavior and relationships, reproduction and family formation.

The Institute was named to honor a distinguished obstetrician-gynecologist, author and leader in reproductive rights, Alan F. Guttmacher. During his presidency of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Dr. Guttmacher saw the need for the institution that now bears his name and nurtured its development within the Federation. The Alan Guttmacher Institute was incorporated as an independent, not-for-profit organization in 1977.

And so we should expect this when we read such statements as, "This is reality-check research," said the study's author, Lawrence Finer. "Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades."

And, "The data clearly show that the majority of older teens and adults have already had sex before marriage, which calls into question the federal government's funding of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs for 12- to 29-year-olds,"

And now the money-qoute...wait for it...

"It would be more effective," Finer said, "to provide young people with the skills and information they need to be safe once they become sexually active — which nearly everyone eventually will."

Allow me to sum up. So, since, acoording to their study it is normal to have premarital sex we should no longer encourage abstinence for teenagers but simply seek to make sex healthy. In other words, they are going to do it anyway, so lets make it safe. Damn that George W. Bush and his puritanical ethics.

So let's assume (although I am not convinced) the survey is correct and it is true that 95 percent of Americans have premarital sex. Does this mean we should simply give them information on safer sex practices and condoms? Well, that depends. If you do not want men and women to have sex till marriage then you would conclude we should do more in the way of encouraging abstinence. However, if you simply do not care or actually want to encourage a culture of sex at anytime with anyone as long as its "safe" then this is good news and capitulation is the order of the day.

Don't get me wrong. I assume at least half of the students I work with will have premarital sex and that is far too many. So even if the study was off by 45% there is reason for sadness.

I have a call into some officials regarding the nature of the study. I want to know some details about how the participants are selected, if they are paid for participation and I want to know if there are regional statistices available. For instance, I want to know if most of respondents are urban, where are they from, places like New York or Tupelo. I will update as soon as a "specialist" calls me back.

**Update: My call was returned from a specialist at the cdc (Center of Disease govt. bureaucracy) who while very nice could answer none of my questions. I only really wanted to know how the particapants were empl0yed in the study (were they selected or purely random?) and were they compensated?

My second question could not be answered. The first question was kinda answered. I was told the particapants were randomly chosen. Good enough. However, there must be some kind of process though for it seems to me that every survey must be done "randomly." I want to know what that process is. I say this because I asked the specialist if there was a group randomly selected then another group chosen based on some criteria. The specialist said that "sounded right." I am no expert in conducting a survey but this seems like a good way to skew results.

Stay tuned. I was told I could talk to a supervisor after the holidays. So I will call next week.

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