Skewed Planned Parenthood sex ed study riddled with missing data, misleading conclusions
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Planned Parenthood’s latest attempt to justify its “comprehensive sex education” programs for elementary and middle school students cuts itself to shreds with missing data and success rates that are downright unsuccessful when compared to national averages. Yet the study is being used to bolster the claim that the Planned Parenthood sex program Get Real can reduce the onset of sexual intercourse in 6th to 8th graders.

Keep in mind that the study, “Protective Effects of Middle School Comprehensive Sex Education with Family Involvement,” says that nationwide, 18 percent of adolescents report having had sex by Grade 8. After exposure to Get Real, the (adjusted) rate of sexual debut for 8th grade girls in the Boston area was 22.4 percent. For boys, the rate was 33.2 percent. Even though these numbers are substantially higher than the national rate, the study trumpets this as a success because, compared to children in the control group who received whatever sex education they were already receiving, the Get Real rates were 15 and 16 percent lower, respectively.

Neither names nor content of the programs the comparison group students were being exposed to is revealed. In addition, the study claims that a family component of the program predicts success with boys because it encourages families to talk with their sons about sex at a much younger age than they normally would. It also bashes state funding of abstinence-only education, not because anyone in the control group was receiving abstinence education, but because the authors of the study claim that parents overwhelmingly prefer comprehensive sex ed over abstinence education.

STOPP’s analysis of the study reveals that, by its own admission, extensive missing data caused by student population mobility poses a “critical threat” to an impact evaluation.

The study goes on to say that “working with a relatively low number of cases (such as 24 schools)” included in this study, can be problematic. Rather than discounting the study’s findings, however, it defends them and calls for the exposure of many more children to Planned Parenthood’s curriculum to test the results!

The Get Real sex program was written and developed by Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. PPLM used 2,453 Massachusetts elementary and middle school students in the greater Boston area as guinea pigs to test the program. Children in grades 6 through 8 received a total of 27 lessons from Planned Parenthood instructors. Planned Parenthood partnered with Wellesley Centers for Women to produce the impact study.

Parents will not be able to get a copy of the study unless they are willing to pay the publisher for the privilege. Parents also will likely not be able to see the curriculum without a substantial fight. The online resources are only available to registered teachers.

If you live in a school district that is using or contemplating use of Planned Parenthood’s Get Real sex ed program, it is probably using the Protective Effects study to promote it. STOPP invites you to use the information presented here to debunk the study and its call for exposing more children to the information in Get Real in order to test the study results. It is also critical to obtain a copy of the full curriculum and analyze it page by page. STOPP is available to help with the analysis. Contact us at [email protected].

For detailed information on getting Planned Parenthood out of your children’s school, download Parent Power!! free of charge from our website today.