Does research support the claim that condom availability doesn't increase activity?
A study released yesterday in the American Journal of Public Health says that condom availability in high schools increases condom use by sexually active teens. However, this is not the claim that is making headlines today.
The Washington Post headline reads: "Condom programs don't increase likelihood of teen sex, study says."
But did the study really find that to be true?
Susan Blake and colleagues at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., studied a 1995 survey of sexual behavior data from more than 4,000 students attending high schools in Massachusetts. Nine schools in the study made condoms available, while 50 did not.
Researchers say they found that students in schools with condom programs were more likely to use condoms. Those in the other 50 schools tended to use other forms of birth control.
It is logical that when condoms are available, they can be used more. But Blake argues that the study also shows that students in schools with condoms available were slightly less likely to have had sex. The study says 49 percent of students at the schools without condom programs reported sexual activity. Only 42 percent of teens at schools where condoms were available said they had sex.
"The concerns of the small minority of parents who oppose providing condoms or related instruction in schools were not substantiated," wrote Blake in the study results.
But what the study did not look at were the rates of sexual behavior before and after condom programs were introduced into schools. "As the researchers themselves admit, because the study was not designed to examine changes in condom use from pre- to post-program, its findings don't definitively prove the condom availability programs influenced teen sexual behaviors," said a Family Research Council (FRC) press release yesterday.
FRC president Ken Connor says that while the study's facts do not back the claim that condom programs do not increase sexual activity, it does raise a valid concern for sex education practices. "The much more important question is, 'What is the best way to protect teens from contracting sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies?' " Connor said in the press release. "This study did not find condom use helped to prevent teen pregnancy. It found no differences in the pregnancy rate between girls with condom availability programs and those without."
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Marriage and sexual ethics:
- Perry signs Defense of Marriage Act | Same-sex marriages or civil unions will not be recognized in Texas (Houston Chronicle)
- Bishops eye pastors to fight gay marriage | Want Catholics to press legislators for amendment (The Boston Globe)
- Marriage profitable for unwed parents | Marriage could be a direct path out of poverty for many poor young couples who have babies out of wedlock, say researchers who have analyzed data from a national study on "fragile families." (The Washington Times)
- Panel OKs narrowing 'crimes against nature' | Willing adults acting in private would be exempt (The Times-Picayune, New Orleans)
- Churches give sex districts the red light | Pastors, claiming to represent more than 100 000 Christians, want the "filthy" sex industry banished to the Karoo (Cape Times, South Africa)
- Less sex please, guys | Why does the Anglican church spend more time arguing over gays than spreading the word about God? (The Guardian, London)
Presbyterian Church (USA)
- Overture saying church is called to present the claims of Jesus Christ narrowly approved| An overture narrowly passes for commissioners "to affirm that the church is called to present the claims of Jesus Christ, leading persons to repent of sin, to accept Jesus as the only Savior and Lord of the whole world, and to pursue a new life as his." (The Presbyterian Layman)
- Presbyterians work to reverse loss of members | What to do about the membership decline is at the center of several issues before the church's legislative meeting this week in Denver. (Denver Post)
- PFR speaker says he sees 'signs of hope' in PC(USA) (PCUSA News Release)
- Evangelizing Iraq | The Christian-missionary question (David Klinghoffer, National Review Online)
- Onward, Christian missionaries | Evangelization in Iraq (William F. Buckley, National Review Online)
- Speak no evil | The passing of an era in the Episcopal church? (Joyce Milton, National Review Online)
- Islamic justice taking hold in Baghdad | Clerics fill void with de facto courts, while moving against western influences (The Washington Post)
- Revisiting the pope's stance on Iraq | Beyond the inconsistencies revealed by an internal Catholic clash between liberal and neoconservative intellectuals, is there anything more to say about the pope's moral leadership in matters of war and peace, and its apparently limited effect? (Peter Steinfels, The New York Times)
- Three anti-war nuns prepare to enter prison | Released from jail for the first time in six months, the peace activist nuns are on a whirlwind tour of potluck suppers, doctors' appointments and visits to family and friends (Associated Press)
Life ethics and human rights:
- Murder case sparks abortion row | Prolife campaigners in America are using a murder case to try to force the federal government to recognize the fetus as an individual in cases of violent crime (BBC)
- Euthanasia test case woman can die | A court in Australia has given doctors permission to stop feeding a terminally-ill woman. (BBC)
- Also: Verdict in 'right-to-die' test case awaited in Australia (CNS News)
- 'Thousands of slaves in Sudan' | More than 11,000 people have been abducted in 20 years of slave-raiding in Sudan, a new report says. (BBC)
- Amnesty condemns rights abuses | The human rights group Amnesty International has said there is serious cause for concern about human rights abuses in Afghanistan. (BBC)
- The first church of liberalism | The Rev. Bob Edgar keeps the National Council of Churches consistently on the left wing (Rachel DiCarlo, The Weekly Standard)
- Supreme Court upholds award in case affecting stadium ruling | High punitive damages allowed in church suit against insurer (The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)
- Historic churches get helping hand | The Interior Department announced this week that historic churches now can receive federal preservation grants under the "Save America's Treasures" program. (The Intelligencer)
- Also: Historic churches now eligible for federal preservation funds (Baptist Press)
- Matters of the sole | Oh, what a flap over flip-flops (Kristen Campbell, Mobile Register, Ala.)
- Priest faulted in fund raising | Misdeeds in LA mirror those cited in dismissal of predecessor in Frisco (The Dallas Morning News)
- 3 churches to close in northern Indiana (Associated Press)
- Germany's Catholics, Protestants come together for historic event (Deutsche Welle)
- Also: German Churches come together (Expatica)
- Degrees of religion | Seminary at Boca Raton classes are open to people of any age or faith (South Florida Sun-Sentinel)
- University of Mobile plans overhaul of music program | Member of Gospel Music Hall of Fame, will lead UM Center for the Performing Arts (Mobile Register)
- A bad way to kill vouchers | Voucher opponents plan to dig up an ugly part of Colorado's past to keep poor kids in failing schools (Editorial, The Denver Post)
- Seminary president to leave post | Dr. Thomas W. Gillespie, the president of the Princeton Theological Seminary since 1983, will retire June 30, 2004 (Princeton Packet, N.J.)
- Keeping faith | At Magdalen College, students reject mainstream America—and the mainstream Catholic church (The Boston Globe)
- Hollywood gets religion—again | Spiritual undertones of 'Matrix Reloaded' prompt debate, dissension among faithful (The Washington Post/Orlando Sentinel)
- Bruce Almighty is taking a risk by making light of god's powers | The idea of portraying God as Everyman is nothing new. But by endowing a human being with God's power and couching it as a comedy, Hollywood might be gambling with some delicate theological issues (Religion News Service)
- Phone calls to God are bedeviling | Switchboards across the country are lighting up with calls to heaven this week, after the hit movie "Bruce Almighty" began broadcasting a seven-digit telephone number for You-Know-Who. (The Chicago Tribune)
- Would God smite moviegoers who laugh? | Carrey film gets people talking about spirituality (Ventura County Star, Calif.)
- Sunday's cinema feature: church | Congregations renting theaters (The Washington Post)
- Playing god | When Morgan Freeman hit the movie screens Friday playing God in Bruce Almighty, he joined a long tradition of wholly holy characters (The Dallas Morning News)
- God botherer | Atheist Russell T. Davies creates a heavenly miniseries (The Globe & Mail, Toronto)
Politics and law:
- Evangelist's church spawns Christian political party | Destiny New Zealand's existence has raised questions about the number of Christianity-based political parties (The New Zealand Herald)
- British churchmen back Mugabe | Anglican and Catholic bishops have refused to denounce the tyranny in Zimbabwe (Peter Oborne, The Spectator, U.K.)
- Faith-based charities may not be better, study indicates | The study by researchers at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis found no difference between secular and religious programs in job placement rates or starting wages. But clients of faith-based groups worked fewer hours, on average, and were less likely to receive health insurance (The Washington Post)
- Churches could play key role in fate of tax proposal | Alabama church leaders led opposition to former Gov. Don Siegelman's failed plan for a statewide lottery in 1999 to fund education programs, but Baptist, Methodist and Episcopal organizations have since issued statements supporting reform of Alabama's tax system (Associated Press)
- Africa needs God's intervention - deputy foreign minister | Akwasi Osei-Adjei said Africa has failed in its programs because it failed to involve God in its affairs (GNA, Ghana)
- Church 'regrets' election move | The Methodist Church has said it "deeply regrets" the decision to postpone elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly. (BBC)
- Religious voters in Bush's prayers | President, advisers seek ways to boost evangelical turnout (Newsweek)
- Catholic church joins anti-third term fight | The Catholic Church has said it is opposed to the amendment of the Constitution to allow a president stand for more than two terms. (The Monitor, Kampala)
- A very mixed marriage | Evangelical Christians lining up to fight for Israel may be an unmovable obstacle to Bush's 'road map' (Newsweek)
- Bush risks disfavor with Christians over Israel (JesusJournal.com)
Health and disease:
- Religious leaders call for halt to condom distribution in Malawi despite AIDS pandemic | Instead, government should make HIV testing and premarital counseling mandatory, says joint task force (Associated Press)
- McCarrick Issues Call to Arms on AIDS | Letter from Washington archbishop urges 'loving' response, questions condoms' efficacy (The Washington Post)
- Final words of a Sars victim inspire family | Missionary Chee Nan Pin died of Sars last week after spending a month unconscious on a ventilator (The New Zealand Herald)
Other stories of interest:
- For some believers, pain is the balm of the soul | Why do people whip and cut themselves in the name of God? (San Francisco Chronicle)
- A bible full of blokes and sheilas | Australians who struggle with the somewhat obtuse language of the King James Bible now have their own vernacular version to turn to, complete with pretty sheilas, good blokes and dusty, down-at-heel pubs (The New Zealand Herald)
- Saint's cloak to warm faithful | Juan Diego relic coming to Denver (Denver Post)
- YWCA names culture warrior as its new head | A skirmish in the culture wars, you could say, has occurred over the appointment of Patricia Ireland as the new chief executive officer of the Young Women's Christian Association (Terry Eastland, The Dallas Morning News)
- Exploring the divide | Science, religion find common ground at conference (The Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.)
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