Thursday, April 07, 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.


Anonymous said...

Bristol Palin on abstinence? If she were to more carefully change ger wardrobe choices and enter a cloister, I actually she believe she could pull it off. Who am I kidding? This must be another April 1 joke.

What's next, the Board of Trustees taps Stu Silberman to become president of the University of Kentucky?

Madeline Gallagher said...

There are many ways you can argue against and for Bristol Palin being an "icon" for the abstinence campaign. She has had the experience of being a teen mom. So, maybe this would strike young interests for how she reflects on her decision to engage in intercourse at such a young age. However, for the most part, I think this works against her. Personally, I would use the old "Practice what you preach" line if I saw her educating young Americans on abstinence.
For the overall "abstinence-only" program, it clearly does not work as effectively as safe-sex programs do. This all goes back to the story you hear about children. If you tell them a stove is hot and not to touch it, they will surely touch it. If you tell a young person not to have sex, they more than likely will. However, maybe if you give the child an oven-mitt, or educate them on safe sex, they will be more likely to use it.
As for the whole Bristol Palin thing, how do you blame her? If someone offered me $70,000 for two weeks of work, I sure wouldn't turn it down. Maybe she’s just trying to clean up her mistakes. Give the girl a break.

Moriah Knight said...

Bristol Palin has taken enough criticism about her teen pregnancy. This happens all the time in our country, not saying that it is right, and those people do not have to deal with half the stuff that she has had to. She is one that is trying to take her mistake and help others learn from it. As for the pay, nothing is said about athletes, who many do not have a college education, who make millions of dollars are year. Bristol is just trying to take her story and help others learn that the teenage mother route is not an easy one, and they should consider that before having sex.

LeAndra Longoria 901384537 said...

After reading this I find that Bristol Palin's pay for her mere 20 days of work was a bit ridiculous. It's a huge slap in the face that an adolescent teen mom can receive that amount money, while there are still hard working individuals in the corporate world who don't even see the amount she was given. With the recent popularity of the show "Teen Mom" I feel that Bristol Palin is only adding to the image that being a teen mom can get you famous. For some the wrong message is being sent. While abstinence only education was developed with good intentions I don't feel that teaching abstinence only is going to help the problem. Adolescents are going to do what they want to do and instead of telling them to stay away from it we should provide information on how to keep sex safe. From my personal experience I know many of my friends in high school purposefully rebelled against abstinence only, they wanted to go out and have sex but they were unaware of safe sex and prevention from pregnancy and STI's. Ultimately feel education is the right choice but you also need to provide both sides of the issue and let adolescents know that if sex is what they choose then we can provide them with things that will keep them safe.