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February 22, 2005

Wade Horn To Drum Up Grants For Abstinence-Only Education

In the wake of news that Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus had received U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) funding to promote marriage initiatives, there is news that Wade Horn "will now be in charge of drumming up support for, and doling out grants to, abstinence-only sexual education programs." Horn is the Assistant Secretary of Children and Families in the Administration for Children and Families at the DHHS.

Horn is better known for promoting marriage and "responsible" fatherhood. He is one of the founders of The National Fatherhood Initiative, which has printed out "Father Facts." Those "facts" were lists of flimsy statistics that blamed "fatherlessness" (code for single and divorced mother homes) for a host of social problems such as juvenile delinquency, low S. A. T. scores, drug and alcohol addiction, and teen pregnancy. These statistics malign single and divorced mother homes. They also oversimplify and misrepresent problems exacerbated by poverty and lack of adequate support systems by insinuating that these families can rise out of poverty if the father is present in the home. Preferably, that father should marry the mother. Hence, the arrival of marriage initiatives promoted by Gallagher and McManus, funded by DHHS.

The problem with the marriage initiatives is that they probably won't work. The Working for Change article linked above included this statement from the editorial board of the Stanford Daily:

First, while there is evidence that two-parent households benefit children, there is little empirical data on what sort of programs work to either promote marriage in the first place or to hold marriages together during troubled times. Beside the lack of proven efficacy and economic efficiency, there is also the dilemma of government being involved, even in a tangential way, in such a personal decision as marriage. There are so many considerations that go into a decision such as this one. For the Bush administration to issue a blanket encouragement of marriage is troublesome both in the fact that government should not be making "moral" decisions for people and in the fact that marriage may not be the best decision for all couples. Women's groups especially have been quick to point to the danger that such programs will push women into marriages that are abusive.

The final problem with Bush's plan to promote marriage is that it does not consider all the possible options to reach its goals. If Bush's goal truly is to make more stable, loving homes for children, he would not exclude gay couples from this drive for marriage. Bush is pushing the sanctity of family, mostly as a boon for children, yet is also advocating denying a sizeable portion of the population the right to become a family. While promoting functional marriages and families is an admirable idea, the Bush plan for doing this is both ineffective and outside the realm of appropriate government action.

Horn has admitted in his Horn has admitted in his 2000 Jewish World Review article, "Doing Something To Boost Marriages" that his writings about welfare and marriage are his opinion. He wrote: "Our knowledge of how to encourage marriage is pretty thin." He believes that "if you don't do anything to encourage marriage, you don't get an increase in marriage," despite the fact that no available research supports the contention that "doing something" to encourage marriage results in an increase in marriage rates. That was nearly five years ago, and there is still no proof that "doing something" to boost marriages will ease the effects of poverty.

About Abstinence-Only Education

A November, 2004, Washington Times article noted that the Bush administration "included more than $131 million for abstinence programs in its $388 billion spending bill. This represents an increase of $30 million for programs that teach middle- and high-school youths that sexual abstinence until marriage is the best choice. The new funding is far less than the $100 million Mr. Bush requested, but it marks a "record level of funding," said leaders of the National Abstinence Clearinghouse in Sioux Falls, S.D."

According to the Working For Change article, "in late December, the Sun Myung Moon Unification Church-owned Washington Times reported that "the nation's two largest abstinence-grant programs [were moved] to a new -- and friendlier -- agency within the Department of Health and Human Services." The ACF, run by Horn, "recently received oversight of the $50 million Title V and $104 million community-based abstinence-education grant programs. Wade Horn's leadership and commitment to abstinence will be a tremendous benefit to abstinence education," said Bruce Cook, founder of Choosing the Best abstinence program. He "will do a wonderful job of promoting the [abstinence] message with the passion and commitment it deserves," said Libby Gray, director of the Project Reality abstinence group in Glenview, Ill.

Abstinence-only education has already been criticized for spreading misconceptions and outright lies. A Congressional staff analysis led by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) addressed some of these serious problems:

"Many American youngers participating in federally funded abstinence-only programs have been taught over the past three years that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, that half the gay male teenagers in the United States have tested positive for the AIDS virus, and that touching a person's genitals "can result in pregnancy, a congressional staff analysis has found.

Those and other assertions are examples of the "false, misleading, or distorted information" in the programs' teaching materials, said the analysis, released yesterday, which reviewed the cirricula of more than a dozen projects aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease."

Here are some of the fallacies children are being taught with abstinence-only education:

* A 43-day-old fetus is a "thinking person."

* HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, can be spread via sweat and tears.

* Condoms fail to prevent HIV transmission as often as 31 percent of the time in heterosexual intercourse.

* One curriculum, called "Me, My World, My Future," teaches that women who have an abortion "are more prone to suicide" and that as many as 10 percent of them become sterile. This contradicts the 2001 edition of a standard obstetrics textbook that says fertility is not affected by elective abortion, the Waxman report said.

Marriage initiatives have not been shown to work, and they should not be hoisted on the poor by Wade Horn and DHHS. Abstinence-only education does not belong in our children's classrooms, and Wade Horn should not be funding lies and misconceptions that would appeal to a "faith-based" contingency. The time for social experimentation on the backs of the poor and on our children must stop.

Posted on February 22, 2005 at 05:23 PM | Permalink

Comments

"Those "facts" were lists of flimsy statistics that blamed "fatherlessness" (code for single and divorced mother homes) for a host of social problems ... They also oversimplify and misrepresent problems exacerbated by poverty and lack of adequate support systems by insinuating that these families can rise out of poverty if the father is present in the home."

Man, I hate that crap.
I'd like to see this guy take a survey of kids in single mother homes where the single mothers have incomes like Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan. Then maybe I'd be willing to listen.
It just sounds like a load of horse crap saying that women who don't belong to man deserve to be poverty stricken.

Posted by: Chloe at Feb 22, 2005 6:27:57 PM

Chloe, researcher and Professor of Psychology E. Mavis Hetherington has said that 75% of children in divorced families are "coping reasonably well and functioning in the normal range." They're doing just fine. So much for Horn's claims about "fatherlessness."

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 22, 2005 6:33:54 PM

"He believes that "if you don't do anything to encourage marriage, you don't get an increase in marriage," despite the fact that no available research supports the contention that "doing something" to encourage marriage results in an increase in marriage rates. That was nearly five years ago, and there is still no proof that "doing something" to boost marriages will ease the effects of poverty."

Doing something to increase marriage and doing nothing have exactly the same effect...no change...men do NOT want to be married, when are Horn and Gallagher and the rest of them going to get that through their heads...

Augustus Caesar, BEFORE the birth of Christ, was trying to encourage men into marriage and had NO LUCK and he was ready to use a lot harsher methods then Wade Horn in the 21st century can use to force men into it...

Someone on another blog said marriage is an old fashion institution for old fashioned men and women...and I guess we need to learn to accept that and begin moving on to other ways of living...

I guess there just isn't a carrot or stick meaningful enough to force men into the institution anymore...



Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 22, 2005 6:40:33 PM

"I'd like to see this guy take a survey of kids in single mother homes where the single mothers have incomes like Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan. Then maybe I'd be willing to listen.

It just sounds like a load of horse crap saying that women who don't belong to man deserve to be poverty stricken."

It's not just mothers making an income like Julia Roberts or Meg Ryan who raise their kids just fine...

Pretty much middle-class mothers making around $50,000 or so raise kids that are just fine...most of those statistics they use to paint single mothers as pathological are taken from like the lowest income and most troubled sectors of our society and then extrapolated out to smear all mothers...

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 22, 2005 6:46:51 PM

I'm not sure that these income numbers of single-mother homes are always accurate.

I work for a community action agency, and as part of a community assessment, I looked at the 1990 - 2000 census data for the two counties in our service area. County "W" showed a slight decrease in married couple with children households, a slight increase in single mother households, and a slight increase in the number of children living under the poverty line. County "F" showed a slight INCREASE in the number of married couples with children, a slight DECREASE in the number of single mother households, and a HUGE increase in the number of children living under the poverty line. Why? Because County "F" practically leads the state in the number of households where neither mom nor dad had a job. (County F has lost a massive number of jobs over the past decade). In reality, having a man in the household isn't going to help your income situation at all if he isn't working. And if he's like a lot of men, where he doesn't do housework, even his "babysitting" can turn into a blackmail weapon that will keep the mother from ever leaving as he will be able to get custody as the "primary parent."

Posted by: silverside at Feb 22, 2005 9:41:15 PM

Gee, I come from a home where a divorce occurred and my dad wasn't around a lot when I was younger because he worked a lot of hours and was rather distant from us kids, but look....I'm NOT on drugs, I'm NOT pregnant, I'm NOT promiscuous, I'm NOT a a high school drop-out, and I'm NOT a college drop out. I'm an honor student and in college. Morons. It was the two years before I left for college that my dad and I really conected and bonded.

And I believe the "fatherlessness" claims have been debunked already.

Leave it to the Bush Administration to teach fabricated, false, and bullshit statistics to push their "hating and fearing sex and hetero marriage will fix everything" propaganda. Worst of all, they're pushing it on young people who are most vulnerable to having their lives and even health ruined by this shit.

If a young woman gets pregnant--say in her late teens or very early twenties--how the hell will getting married to the bio-father she barely knows and only knows through sexual encounters, fix anything or make her life stable and secure?

Posted by: Pseudo-Adrienne at Feb 22, 2005 9:58:18 PM

"In reality, having a man in the household isn't going to help your income situation at all if he isn't working. And if he's like a lot of men, where he doesn't do housework, even his "babysitting" can turn into a blackmail weapon that will keep the mother from ever leaving as he will be able to get custody as the "primary parent."

Well you're just STUCK with him for life then...that's what Wade Horn and Gallagher and the like WANT...they want you stuck within these marriages...

I mean even listen to them discussing the spread of Joint Custody rulings and how THAT has cut back on the divorce rates...They could care LESS about what is going on within these marriages, these women could be getting beat up every night, having all of their paycheck drained to spend on ALL kinds of crap for this character, and he could be cheating with every women on the block...
but you're stuck...AND that's the way it used to be up until the 60s...You were just stuck with whatever loser you married...

That's why they said for better or worse and they meant it. AND of course, women always suffer more in these situations when they have no outside intervention, such as the police or courts, where they can get help...

That's why it's important for young women to be informed about what all these changes in family law mean for them because they could be miserable, and any kids they have miserable for YEARS, by making a mistake like this, for years...

It used to NOT be correctable and it's getting back to that again...where a mistake will not be so easily correctable especially if you have kids early within the marriage...then you're TRAPPED for a life sentence, no possibility of parole...

Posted by: NYMOM at Feb 23, 2005 12:42:47 AM

Trish & NYMON, that was exactly my point... That any evidence that divorced children are at any type of disadvantage, would have to be focusing on low income single mothers in the low income range. Economic hardship has been shown to lead to other hardships in children - including apparently low IQ test scores & such.
So I totally believe that 75% of parents in divorced families are doing just fine. The 25% who are not, though, I would bet almost all of them are disadvantaged in ways that have nothing to do with the absense of a father, other than any possible lack of financial support.

BTW: Making $50,000 a year is above the average income in my area, I believe. I have known 2 parent families that probably don't make that much as a family income.

NYMOM: "men do NOT want to be married, when are Horn and Gallagher and the rest of them going to get that through their heads..."

LOL!!

Funny... But true.
I mean, actually, I think a lot of men do want to be married. And many eventually want to be married.
But an awful lot don't, it's true! The old addage about getting the milk for free & all, still seems to ring true.
Of course many people would blame women for this.

"Augustus Caesar, BEFORE the birth of Christ, was trying to encourage men into marriage and had NO LUCK and he was ready to use a lot harsher methods then Wade Horn in the 21st century can use to force men into it..."

haha! Oh my... I have to ask... what harsher methods was Augustus Caesar contemplating??

"Someone on another blog said marriage is an old fashion institution for old fashioned men and women...and I guess we need to learn to accept that and begin moving on to other ways of living...

I should first say that I'm in favour of getting rid of legal marriage, and only having civil legal domestic partnership - ie: not necessarily related to religious vows at all.
That said, I would have to know the context of the "old fashioned institution" comment.
The person who said that... Do they have a significant other at all... and if they do, for example, do they think it's old fashioned that they might want to be allowed to see that significant other in the hospital or be notified if something happened to that significant other?
I mean, because that's the kind of "marital rights" that make marriage attractive to me. If I'm sharing my life with another person, and they are the father of my children, I want the right to visit that man in the hospital... be notified if something happened to him. Etc. etc.
Of course, I guess some people might think "sharing one's life" at all with another person to be terribly passe & behind the times. lol. Monogomy just isn't in style these days perhaps?

"If a young woman gets pregnant--say in her late teens or very early twenties--how the hell will getting married to the bio-father she barely knows and only knows through sexual encounters, fix anything or make her life stable and secure?"

My thoughts exactly. Especially when apparently most teenage girls who get pregnant, are made pregnant by adult men... and they're still somehow the worst at being providers & paying child support. (Not to mention they should've been old enough to know better than to have unprotected sex. To say nothing of their choice in sleeping with minors.)

Posted by: Chloe at Feb 23, 2005 1:08:50 AM

Chloe: "So I totally believe that 75% of parents in divorced families are doing just fine. The 25% who are not, though, I would bet almost all of them are disadvantaged in ways that have nothing to do with the absense of a father, other than any possible lack of financial support."

Exactly, and the research supports that assessment (although research lists several other factors contributing to poverty - none of them being the mere absence or presence of a father.).

Posted by: Trish Wilson at Feb 23, 2005 8:08:51 AM