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The first line cheers “Abstinence education works! It is powerful. It brings results!” That’s what the 2006-2007 ATM (Abstinence ‘til Marriage) Education Evaluation Report claims anyway.
ATM, an Ohio-based abstinence-only-until-marriage organization, delivers their curriculum, Relationships Under Construction, to over 135,000 students in 35 Ohio counties since 2002. 
So I thought I would see what results they bring. At first glance, this ‘report’ looks thorough, perhaps even scientific. They have fancy graphs, lots of numbers and bars, and even tout that the “evaluation is conducted by The Applied Research Center at Miami University, Middletown, Ohio under the direction of Dr. Robert Seufert.”
Wow, Dr. Seufert. The same Dr. Seufert who’s research supports comprehensive sex education? The same Dr. Seufert who recently published a Public Policy paper “The Future of Sex Education in Ohio: Who Decides”?  Hmm, let’s see what Dr. Seufert really has to say about ATM’s evaluation.
Dr. Seufert is a very reachable guy. In fact I had the pleasure of speaking with him over the phone last week for nearly thirty minutes as he explained his thoughts on ATM’s evaluation report.
“Their results are really suspect,” Dr. Seufert said of the report. Turns out he did work with them to develop a plan to gather meaningful data and statistics regarding their program. However, ATM has not provided Dr. Seufert with control data—as Dr. Seufert explained, you need a control group in order to evaluate programs rigorously. There are other flaws with the evaluation they provide in the report, Seufert added, including the absence of follow-up data and tangible outcomes that one expects from a scientific evaluation. “Without long-term follow-up and rigorous evaluation, claims of program success may be made based on incomplete information, misinformation, or self-interest,” he said.
When I spoke with Dr. Seufert, he was still waiting for raw data from ATM to complete the evaluation. It has been since 2002 after all. It makes me wonder if ATM really did gather the data, or maybe they saw the writing on the wall.
So far, according to Dr. Seufert, ATM “hasn’t demonstrated that their program works.”
Guess ATM didn’t get the memo.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/christi.hadingerfriley Christi Hadinger Friley

    My children are currently being exposed to ATM’s (now re-made) RUC via the Buckeye Valley School District. Naturally, I did my research as I am very particular about how objectively (and realistically) any type of “sex ed” is offered to my kids. I have five total in the school district from 3rd grade to a Junior at DACC. I was DISGUSTED by what I found at their website, and even more so by what I researched of Catherine Wood (who btw only has ever gotten a BA in Home Ec in 1974 and has no formal training or degrees in sexual health or education…clearly she isn’t even remotely qualified to “write” such a program). Not only were all of the “statistics” posted entirely out of date, by ten years or more, but also highly inaccurate. According to her cited sources, apparently, 25% of Americans have Herpes and don’t even know it – Oh, and only 3% of rapes result in pregnancy! Her “sources” lack complete information and also cite statistics from organizations that are anything BUT objective. Also bothersome, she cites Ohio House Bill 189 as the legally mandated basis for her “curriculum”, which, no doubt, is how she got her state funding. However, she left out the 7th mandate where adoption must also be taught as an option. Ohio House Bill 338 has been introduced to revise the “unfriendly” language used in HB 189 and focuses on disease prevention with an emphasis on abstinence regardless of marital status. Nevermind the fear-mongering of correllating abstinence with marriage… what about gay students who can’t marry in our state? How are they supposed to feel after being told never to have sex until they are married? It just goes on and on… Her program is publicly rewarded as a MINISTRY by the Christian media, a fact that might be of interest to students of other religious backgrounds. Her “advisor” is the pastor of Genoa Baptist Church, from whom she recently recieved an award. Our state has no business funding this “cloaked” religious right-wing ridiculousness! The icing on the cake? The website clearly stated this program is intended for grades 6-12, but RUC is introducing their propaganda to my 4th grader!!! Sure, that’s bad on the school’s part, but it should be RUC’s responsibility to refuse their program to an unintended audience!