Statistical Analysis 101 emphasizes the idea that correlation does not necessarily mean causation. Focus on the Family Action, however, has not let this basic rule of statistics get in the way of implying a relationship between declining teen sex rates and the introduction of abstinence-only education. Focus on the Family Action cites a National Center for Health Statistics study showing that from 1991 to 2005, the percentage of teens engaging in sexual intercourse dropped from 54% to 47%:
Linda Klepacki, analyst for sexual health at Focus on the Family Action, said 1991 is a significant marker for a reason.
“That’s when we separated out abstinence education from contraceptive-based education,” she said. “We have seen a continual decline since 1991, so we can infer that we’ve had an effect with abstinence education in our public schools.”
Never mind studies that have called into question the effectiveness of abstinence-only education.
A closer look at the study also reveals that the decrease in teenage sex appears to have occurred from 1991 to 2001. Since the Bush administration began heavily pushing abstinence-only education at a national level in 2001, rates appear to have remained unchanged from 2001 to 2005. With this apparent correlation, how come Focus on the Family doesn’t blame the massive infusion of federal funding on abstinence-only programs during the Bush administration for halting the decline in teen sexual activity since 2001?