A recently created government Web site designed to help parents counsel their teenagers about risky behavior has come under fire by Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-California) for advocating abstinence until marriage and, he claims, for offering “inaccurate and misleading” information about condoms, oral sex and single parenting.
The Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) created the site, http://www.4parents.gov, last year as a welcome resource to help parents take an active role in establishing and communicating sexual values to teenagers. It urges parents to “encourage their adolescents to delay sexual involvement, preferably until marriage,” citing abstinence as “without question, the healthiest choice for adolescents, both physically and mentally.”
In a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt, Waxman stated, “The content appears to have been guided by ideology, not a commitment to providing parents and teens reliable information about sex.” He criticized the Web site as “an effort to frighten teens and their parents.” Waxman’s statements stem largely from the conclusions of a four-member medical panel he solicited to evaluate the Web site.
The panel, which seems embedded in ideology of its own, alleges that the Web site lacks accuracy, balance and completeness. Showing its leftist slant, members of the panel offer a barrage of criticism that ranges from dissatisfaction with the site’s portrayal of single parenting to assertions that it should provide resources to gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender teens. The panel also accuses the Web site of exaggerating the risk of STD transmission when using a condom or engaging in oral sex.
Dr. Janice Crouse, senior fellow at Concerned Women America’s (CWA’s) Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI), disputes the criticism of Waxman and the panel. “Waxman’s criticisms are so petty and ideological as to be ridiculous, yet the mainstream media treats them seriously,” she said.
“His specific attacks on the effectiveness of abstinence education programs have been answered resoundingly by abstinence authorities. Also, our BLI analysis of official data clearly indicates that teen pregnancies and teen abortions are down due to abstinence education and not condom use, but the media are ignoring the facts, and Waxman is continuing his irresponsible remarks.”
The Web site has been well received by parents, according to Dr. Alma Golden, deputy assistant secretary for population affairs at HHS. CWA applauds the Bush administration for its continued support of abstinence education and for encouraging parents to take initiative in communicating an abstinence message to their teenagers.
Take Action: Let HHS and Secretary Leavitt know you support the Bush administration’s efforts to encourage abstinence among America’s teens. Click here to make your voice heard!
Jessica Anderson, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, is an intern in CWA’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. She is majoring in public administration, political science, and music.