Your humble scribe appears in the “Both Sides” feature of today’s Courant. I am debating a Hartford school official on the wisdom of school-based programs providing contraceptives to teenagers. An excerpt:

“Distribution of contraceptives in the public schools will not lower the rates at which our teens become pregnant or become infected with sexually transmitted diseases.

The best way to help our young people avoid the physical and emotional dangers of early sexual activity is through abstinence education. In fact, abstinence education is particularly empowering to young girls, who should not have to face the added pressure of a free contraceptives policy.

I will just add that in the piece originally submitted to the Courant I cited a 2000 article in the British medical journal The Lancet (“Condoms and seat belts: the parallels and the lessons”) on risk reduction strategies being offset by compensatory behaviors. The Courant published my point but edited out the reference to the study.

7 Responses to “Contraceptives in the Public Schools”

  1. on 08 Jun 2007 at 12:42 pmMary Anne Mosack

    Thank you for the common sense defense of AUM education. Your voice is needed and appreciated by common sense Americans, especially parents !

  2. on 08 Jun 2007 at 4:15 pmTricia

    I read the linked article, and am glad that the Courant is (at least occasionally) starting to print some conservative or traditional values views, on **some** topics.

    I thought the ending of Peter’s position in the article especially pertinent:

    “Distributing condoms in public schools will make it harder for those girls who wish to say no. Any sensible public policy ought to make it easier.”

    I found the ending of the opposing view’s position misleading and incomplete:

    “Recent statistics from the Connecticut Department of Public Health show that since the time that Hartford Public Schools has provided reproductive health services in the clinics, births to teenagers in Hartford have dramatically gone down. The data serve as positive feedback that school-based reproductive health services help to reduce teen pregnancy.”

    I don’t have time to search the statistics, but I’m quite certain that the incidence of STDs (not to mention sexual promiscuity in general) among teenagers in Hartford during that same time period has “dramatically gone” UP!!

    I am appalled that our nation’s legislators in Washington D.C. are currently considering dropping ALL FUNDING for abstinence education in the schools.

  3. on 09 Jun 2007 at 6:29 pmDavid

    “I don’t have time to search the statistics”

    Why let that get in the way of making a ridiculous and unsupportable statement?

    Perhaps you should take a look at the abstinence industry which like all other pseudoconservative causes has NOTHING to do with helping anyone and everything to do with raking cash into already rich people’s pockets.

    Abstinence as part of well rounded teaching on sexual health is certainly quite important. Abstinence only is the epitome of ignorance and theocratic interference in the well being of the nation’s young people. But you’re all for that, right?

  4. on 10 Jun 2007 at 4:34 pmTrueBlueCT

    If we weren’t talking about real teenagers, your positions regarding reproductive health would be comical.

    Let’s see, you don’t want high schoolers to have sex, you don’t want them to be taught about birth control, or have access to it, but if a girl does get pregnant, you want her to have no choice but to have the baby, yet you don’t believe in the welfare she would need to bring the child up properly!

    Sometimes I wonder if you guys wouldn’t be happier in a muslim-type society, where everything is ruled by religious edict. You sure don’t seem to be American in your outlook!

  5. on 14 Jun 2007 at 5:32 amSteve

    Yea True Blue. We do tend to have a nasty little hang up about parents making life altering decisions with thier children (instead of left-wing nut, free sex hippie wannabe’s who seem to be in control of our public schools.) Woe is us.

  6. on 14 Jun 2007 at 12:15 pmDave

    It would seem that Diane Dimmock is claiming a decline in teen birth rates in Hartford that can be attributed to the adoption of school policy #6113, as described in

    The Hartford Public Schools will provide developmentally appropriate reproductive health education to all students grades K through 12 with particular emphasis on grades 7 through 9. The Health Department of the Hartford Public Schools will make available reproductive and preventative health services including contraception, counseling and testing for sexually active youth. – Adopted July 10, 2001.

    Let’s assume that such a policy really had an effect on the teen birth rate. How would we go about checking that? A reasonable interpretation would be that after the adoption of the policy change, there should be a measurable improvement. To be fair we shouldn’t include 2001 itself, since there could have been pre-existing teen pregnancies in progress at the point of the policy change, and it would take 9 months or thereabouts for those situations to play out in the birth statistics. Consequently, we ought to expect to see a significant change in 2002 and beyond if the claimed effects upon teen birth rates are real.

    Here is what statistics from the CT Department of Public Health – obtained via – reveal:

    Births to teens, age less than 18 years, Hartford, All Races:

    2004 7.4%
    2003 7.0%
    2002 7.2%
    2001 7.7%
    2000 9.4%
    1999 8.9%
    1998 10.3%
    1997 10.3%

    Effectively reduced incidence by (10.3 – 7.4) / 10.3 = 28.16% between 1997 and 2004. Of that 28.16% reduction, 25.24% occurred between 1997 and 2001, and 2.91% occurred between 2001 and 2004.

    Births to teens, age less than 18 years, Entire State, All Races:

    2005 2.3%
    2004 2.2%
    2003 2.5%
    2002 2.5%
    2001 2.5%
    2000 2.7%
    1999 2.9%
    1998 3.1%
    1997 3.3%

    Effectively reduced incidence by (3.3 – 2.3) / 3.3 = 30.30% between 1997 and 2004. Of that 30.30% reduction, 24.24% occurred between 1997 and 2001, and 6.06% occurred between 2001 and 2004.

    Here are some additional observations based on this data:

    – The reduced incidence between 1997 and 2001 was trending in a roughly equal curve for Hartford (relative drop of 25.24%) and the entire state (relative drop of 24.24%)

    – This correlation in the rate of reduction was fractured in the 2001 to 2004 time period, with the rate of teen births statewide experiencing a relative drop of 6.06% while those in Hartford had only a relative drop of 2.91%. Or stated another way, the rate of teen births reduced twice as quickly statewide during this period as they did locally in Hartford.

    – Think about this. Even though teen birth rates in Hartford have generally been running more than triple the statewide average, both before and after 2001 … before 2001, the relative rate of reduction (25.24%) was slightly more than the statewide relative rate of reduction (24.24%). Yet after the policy change, the relative rate of reduction in Hartford (2.91%) significantly lagged the relative rate of reduction statewide (6.06%). Hartford went from doing slightly better than average, to much worse than average, with respect to the relative rate of reduction.

    Thanks for the prompting, David. It definitely was worth checking the statistics. You know how the saying goes, that folks in government just can’t be trusted to be honest when citing statistics. It looks like the facts that were originally cited in defense of the Hartford school policy actually demonstrate the opposite. They show that since the adoption of the changes in school policy, the relative rate of reduction in teen births in Hartford (which previously mirrored the trend in reduction across the whole state) haven’t managed anymore to keep pace with the statewide trend.

    Arguably these statistics suggest the policy change has been a failure. Rather than having a positive effect, or at least no measurable effect, it looks like it’s actually caused Hartford to lag the rest of the state in the trend on reducing teen births!

  7. on 14 Jun 2007 at 12:28 pmDave

    FYI, there was a small copy/paste error in my earlier table for the statewide rate of teen births. There should not have been an entry for 2005, because no such data has yet been published. The corrected table is shown below:

    2004 2.3%
    2003 2.2%
    2002 2.5%
    2001 2.5%
    2000 2.7%
    1999 2.9%
    1998 3.1%
    1997 3.3%

    This does not affect any of the analysis that I gave. The same figures and findings hold true, that Hartford’s relative rate of reduction in teen births lags the statewide trend in the 2001-2004 time period.

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