Thursday, April 7, 2011

Bristol Palin is paid $262,500 for abstinence campaign

Dancing With the Stars alum Bristol Palin, the daughter of vice presidential candidate turned reality TV star Sarah Palin, never went to college or held a full-time job, but she earned more than the Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court in 2009.

According to tax papers unveiled April 6, 2011, the younger Ms Palin was paid $262,500, in 2009, for 20 days of work as an ambassador for teen-pregnancy prevention by the non-profit group the Candie's Foundation.

The high school grad was paid another $70,000 in 2010 for less than two weeks of work.

In 2009, John Roberts — a 56-year-old Harvard Law alum — earned $223,500 to helm the federal judicial system of the United States.

Apparently abstinence advocacy is more lucrative.

Palin's job was to help shape "the way youth in America think about teen pregnancy and parenthood," a goal of Candies, and the foundation says she has been more effective than the non-famous teen spokesperson's used by another group.

"We know that Ms. Palin's work has had a positive effect on creating awareness about teen pregnancy," Candie's spokeswoman Ali Tyrangel said in a statement.

Bristol made headlines as a teen mom in 2008 during her mother Sarah Palin's run for vice president. She demonstrates her value in this video from her Candie's campaign while on "Dancing with the Stars." Her "pause before you play" tag line is delivered with Jersey Shore's The Situation.

But some students at Washington University in St. Louis didn't want to be the ones signing Palin's paycheck.

Palin had been invited by the school's Student Health Advisory Committee to be the keynote speaker on a panel during Washington University's upcoming Sexual Responsibility Week, aka Sex Week, until "growing controversy among undergraduates over the decision to pay for her talk with student-generated funds" prompted Palin and SHAC to mutually cancel her appearance, the school said in a statement Friday. A Facebook protest was credited with halting Palin's appearance for which would have been paid between $15,000 and $30,000 of student-generated funds.

The initial debate over sex education in American schools was over whether or not the schools even had a role to play. Many parents believed that it was exclusively the parents' role to impart or withhold information about human sexuality. But by the 1970s and 80s, anxiety over growing teen pregnancy rates, and then AIDS, tilted public opinion in favor of schooling. Policies requiring sex education in the schools expanded.

Having lost the debate over whether there should be sex education in the schools, advocacy groups changed course in an attempt to tailor that instruction toward abstinence-only. The first grants for abstinence-only began, in 1981, under the provisions of The Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA). Sponsored by congressional opponents of family planning, AFLA became famous for its "fear-based" curriculum.

Since 1996, over $1 billion in federal and mandatory state funds have been allocated to promote abstinence-only sex education among young Americans (Boonstra, 2009). Specifically, these funds increased from $73 million in FY 2001 to approximately $158 million in FY 2005 (Kantor, Santelli, Teitler, & Balmer, 2008).

Abstinence-only programs are funded through three main sources: The AFLA, Title V of the Social Security Act (Title V), and the Community-Based Abstinence Education program (CBAE) (Weiser & Miller, 2010).

In 2004, US Congressman Henry Waxman (D, CA) called for an extensive evaluation of the abstinence-only education that was funded through these programs. The “Waxman Report” concluded that 80% of these programs contained false information about contraceptives, risks of sexual activity, and abortion; blurred the boundaries of religion and science; and contained a number of general science errors (Weiser & Miller, 2010).

Another study in 2007, which was mandated by Congress and conducted by Mathematica Policy Research, examined over nine years of data regarding the effectiveness of abstinence-only education and concluded that none of the programs it examined were shown effective. That same year, Congress rejected the Bush Administration’s request to expand the funding for CBAE by $28 million. The era of big increases for abstinence education was over.

Evidence mounted that abstinence-only programs were ineffective in stopping or even delaying sex. In some cases, perhaps even dangerous. A 2009 study in the journal Pediatrics found that teens who take virginity pledges are just as likely to have sex, but less likely to use contraception or to be tested for sexually transmitted infections (STI). In the wake of such results, the number of states that declined federal dollars grew. As of 2009, 23 states and the District of Columbia had opted out.

During his presidency Barak Obama has shifted policy in favor of comprehensive sex education. This program supports evidence-based models of sex education that provides medically accurate information including accurate information about birth control and disease prevention - and it cuts out abstinence-only funding.

Researcher Douglas Kirby (from the nonpartisan group National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy) examined 48 comprehensive-sex education curricula, in 2008, and found that approximately two-thirds had resulted in decreased frequency of sexual intercourse, increased use of contraceptives, or decrease in the number of sexual partners reported (Boonstra, 2009).

Obama proposed nearly $178 FY million for comprehensive sexual education in 2010 (Weiser & Miller, 2010) - which one assumes is being axed in the current budget impasse.

The Kentucky Department has remained "neutral" on the issue as Title V funds are channeled through the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Health and Family Services spokeswoman Beth Crace Fisher told KSN&C that "Kentucky receives $839,352 for Title V Abstinence State Abstinence Education grant each year for five years. This grant requires a match of 43 percent of the project’s total dollars. Matching funds will be in-kind support and local dollars. No matching funds are from Kentucky’s general funds."

But the Cabinet has a very different take on the abstinence-only research.

Fisher says, "The money is being used to implement either the Choosing the Best™ (CTB) curriculum or Postponing Sexual Involvement (PSI) curriculum for fifth through eighth graders in participating counties. These evidence-based curricula have demonstrated success in reducing teen pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted infections and HIV. The Department for Public Health awarded grants to 29 local health departments representing 56 counties."

Weiser, D. & Miller, M. (2010). Barack Obama vs Bristol Palin: Why the President’s sex education policy wins. Contemporary Justice Review, 13

Boonstra, H.D. (2009). Advocates call for a new approach after the era of ‘abstinence-only’ sex education. Guttmacher Policy Review, 12 (1), 6-11.

Kantor, L.M, Santellli, J.S., Teitler, J., & Balmer, R. (2008). Abstinence-only policies and programs: An overview. Sexuality Research & Social Policy, 5 (3), 6-17.

No comments:

Post a Comment