The Long-term Consequences of the Hook-up Culture
Abstinence Researcher Says New Study Conclusion Bashing Virginity Pledges is Faulty
Modest Is Hottest
Virginity Pledges: Still a Good Idea
NEW! Teens and Virginity Pledges
The Popularity of Teen Pregnancy
Parents Speak Up National Campaign — 4Parents.gov
NEW! Condom Effectiveness in Teens & Young Adults
Condoms: Do Kids Use Them? Do They Work When They Do?
NEW! Teens and Sex: As Bad As We Think?
NEW! Commentary: Henry Waxman & the Sexualization of Our Children
NEW! Commentary: Looking at Both Sides of Sex Education…
The Long-term Consequences of the Hook-up Culture
Abstinence Researcher Says New Study Bashing Virginity Pledges is Faulty. A leading researcher into the effectiveness of abstinence education says his own research using the same data shows quite different results from a new study that bashes the quality of virginity pledges.
Robert Rector, a senior research fellow on domestic policy at the Heritage Foundation, questions the new study [http://www.lifenews.com/nat4681.html] from Johns Hopkins University.
“It was really quite extraordinary that you find in this survey that kids who took this very brief exposure to virginity pledges have dramatically better life outcomes compared to kids from the same socio-economic background,” Rector told CNS News.
He said it included “dramatically lower rates of teen births, abortion rates down, teen sex down, out of wedlock births down, number of sexual partners down a third to a half compared to kids from a similar socio-economic backgrounds."
Rector says the results of research — including the new JHU study — show that youth who come from a religious background have better training and support. He also says the kids who do best don't necessarily take a virginity pledge but live out one anyway.
“It’s not an abstinence versus non-abstinence message at all,” Rector told CNS News.
“It’s very clear that these kids that have what I call pro-abstinence, anti-permissive sex attitudes do substantially better in life. They are much more likely to abstain from sex through high school and teens who have abstained from sex through high school are twice as likely to graduate from college," he said.
Rector told the conservative news web site that his own research shows that federal funding for abstinence education programs should be continued.
Other studies back up Rector's views and put the JHU study at odds with the bulk of the research on abstinence education.
An August 2006 study [http://www.lifenews.com/nat2503.html] conducted by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found teaching abstinence education to young teenagers in public schools reduces their sexual behavior. The study found that abstinence helped delay the starting point at which teenagers begin having sexual relations.
The Penn researchers studied 662 African-American students in 6th and 7th grade from inner-city schools in Philadelphia.
They found that those who were taught abstinence were less likely to have had sexual relations in a 24 month followup compared to those who were taught about safer sex through the use of condoms but didn't mention abstinence.
The study also called into question the claims from anti-abstinence advocates that abstinence programs make teens less likely to use condoms when they do start having sex.
"It did not reduce intentions to use condoms, it did not reduce beliefs about the efficacy of condoms, it did not decrease consistent condom use and it did not decrease condom use at last sexual [encounter]," lead author John Jemmott, of the University of Pennsylvania, said.
"There aren't any studies that show that children are less likely to use condoms as a result of an abstinence intervention. I've looked in the literature, there are no studies that show that," Jemmott said.
[31 Dec 08, http://www.lifenews.com/nat4687.html, D.C., www.lifenews.com]
Modest is Hottest
By Rebecca St. James
I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. [Women] should make themselves attractive by the good things they do. –
One of my most embarrassing moments ever came while I was touring Europe. I was doing a concert in Wales. On one particular night the people at the show seemed very distant. I should have thought at the time, There’s probably a good reason they’re acting that way. I was wearing a black skirt over some pants that night. The skirt had red stitching with an “s” pattern all over it.
At the end of the show, a girl came through the autograph line and asked, “Did you know that your skirt spells ‘sex’ over and over again?” I was mortified because I didn’t know that’s what the pattern said. As usual I had talked about my virginity and the call for sexual abstinence during the concert. I asked the girl, “Do you know if very many people noticed this?” And she said, “Well, it kind of was going around at intermission.” I was humiliated and wanted to sink into the floor.
Inadvertently, that skirt broadcast a message completel
y opposed to what I had been singing about, and not at all what I had hoped to communicate. That brings up a really good question: Are the words you say consistent with what you are wearing and how you act?
I saw a T-shirt that read “Modest is hottest.” That’s a great motto. Modesty means way more than just not dressing provocatively. The word modesty has to do with walking in humility, being meek and unassuming. Someone who is modest places a moderate estimate on her abilities, is not bold or in-your-face, is not vain or conceited.
In contrast to those who seem to be full of themselves, modesty really is hottest—it’s attractive to others because people know that a modest person is more concerned about others than about herself.
A modest person usually prefers that others be in the spotlight. She’d rather take a behind-the-scenes role. In my profession this can be a struggle as performers are constantly thrust into the spotlight. Because of that, modesty is an attitude I am always working on.
But just because we seek to be modest does not mean we are weak.
In fact, a modest person may be very self confident because she is comfortable with who she is and doesn’t have to spend all her time proving herself to others.
Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. . . . Real wisdom, begins with… getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not twofaced.
Living It Out
Spend some time thinking about how you live, how you dress, and the way you talk. Is the message you convey through each of these aspects of your life consistent, or are you ever two-faced? Would people who know you best use words like modest and humble to describe you? If not, what can you do to change their perception?
[Excerpted from Pure by Rebecca St. James. Published by FaithWords. CBN.com http://www.cbn.com/family/youth/RSJ_Modest.aspx ]
VIRGINITY PLEDGES: STILL A GOOD IDEA?
One common principle has risen from all this research: The best programs focus on character development and positive activities aimed at foste ring self-respect and upholding marriage. A virginity pledge can be part of this. It’s a promise. The potential to fail is always present. We all make News Years’ resolutions we don’t keep. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t make them…
(Source: http://erlc.com/article/virginity-pledges-still-a-good-idea; Abstinence Clearinghouse, 14Jan09; POSTED: JAN 13, 2009
By Penna Dexter)
Teens and Virginity Pledges
A recent study by Rosenbaum in Pediatrics  concludes that the sexual behavior of virginity pledgers does not differ from that of closely matched nonpledgers, and pledgers are "less likely to protect themselves from pregnancy and disease before marriage." The media immediately pounced on the study results and concluded that abstinence education "does not work." All in spite of other reports that virginity pledges help delay sexual debut in adolescents.
The Rosenbaum article states that the study results show no significant differences in sexual behaviors or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) in pledgers and nonpledgers. But general statements such as "virginity pledges are not effective" or "abstinence education programs do not work" are unwarranted conclusions from the results here. All the study results really show are that in a particular group of adolescents with religious, conservative attitudes and beliefs there were no significant differences amongst them in sexual behaviors and STDs; and pledges do not seem to have any added effect to the pre-existing beliefs and attitudes of that particular group.
Here are some points about the study that need to be considered carefully before drawing over-arching conclusions:
– According to the author, there were baseline differences between the pledgers and all nonpledgers, hence it was necessary to match pledgers with similar non pledgers. The pledgers were more religious, less sexually experienced, expected more negative and fewer positive effects of sex and birth control use, and had lower knowledge of birth control than non pledgers. Due to these baseline differences, the Rosenbaum study looked at only a sub-group of adolescents.
– The author matched pledgers and nonpledgers so there would be no baseline differences between the pledgers and nonpledgers in the study group. In fact, the author says that there were no significant differences seen when comparing 128 characteristics in the pledgers and nonpledgers. However, the author also says that about 5% significant differences are seen on average in any comparison. These two facts taken together suggest that there may have been some "over-adjustment" during the matching process – making the groups so similar that there may be no real differences at all.
– The biggest concern is the representativeness of the sample. The sample under study is not representative of all teens in the country – simply because the author looked at a very small group with specific characteristics. So the study results cannot be generalized to all US teens. This is also one of the study limitations the author acknowledges in the article.
– Pledgers are reported as less likely to use condoms/birth control as compared to nonpledgers. Although pledgers were less likely to use condoms over the last year, their condom use was not significantly different during last sex. The author also states that abstinence programs and pledges do not prepare the youth to "protect their health." Apparently those who did not pledge were also unable to "protect their health" since there was no difference in STDs in both groups. So how are virginity pledges specifically to blame for the health status of the study group?
– The author is quick to draw a causal inference from the data analysis results. The article states that pledgers may be less likely to use condoms/contraceptives because abstinence programs cause participants to develop negative attitudes about their effectiveness. Since the study does not look at youth who had participated in abstinence education programs vs. youth who did not participate in such programs, it is unclear how the author can say abstinence programs cause less condom/contraceptive use from her data and results.
– The article states that the study results are biased in favor of showing a "pledge effect" since the pledgers would be less likely to report sexual activity. It is also important to note that 82% of the pledgers did not remember they had pledged. If most of the youth do not remember having pledged at all, the sexual decisions or reporting of most of the pledgers could not possibly be driven by the pledge. And under-reporting of sexual activity is common in all adolescents due to social desirability bias (the desire to report what is perceived to
be more socially acceptable). Religious and conservative teens would be as likely, if not more so, to under-report their sexual activity as well. In this case, under-reporting in both groups would not be likely to swing the results in either direction.
In fact, it may be that the results of the study were due to the underlying beliefs of the study group. Having taken a virginity pledge probably did not add anything to the sexual decision making of the youth in the study. It is thus a little far-fetched to conclude that abstinence education does not work if virginity pledges do not show an effect. First, not all abstinence education programs require virginity pledges. Second, a count of the number of virginity pledges is not a measure of the success or effectiveness of the program. Just like a count of the condoms distributed cannot be a measure of the success or effectiveness of a sex education program. Any program needs to be evaluated continually to obtain feedback on how the program can be improved. This means more than just providing a count of youth in the program or those involved in an event (eg, pledging) in the program.
The underlying belief system of the youth (possibly from their families) had a protective effect as compared to youth outside the study group. These youth had fewer sexual partners and later age of sexual debut. As reinforced by these results, families and parents play an important role in helping adolescents avoid risky sexual behaviors.
– It is important to ensure rigorous implementation and evaluation of any sex education (including abstinence education) program to see how a prevention message can be delivered effectively.
– Parents need to talk to their children about sexual health issues and guide them toward the healthiest sexual decision making.
1. Rosenbaum JE. Patient teenagers: A comparison of the sexual behavior of virginity pledgers and matched nonpledgers. Pediatrics. 2009 Jan;123(1):e110-20.
2. Martino SC, Elliott MN, Collins RL, Kanouse DE, Berry SH. Virginity pledges among the willing: delays in first intercourse and consistency of condom use. J Adolesc Health. 2008 Oct;43(4):341-8. Epub 2008 Jun 5.
[12 February, 2009, The Medical Institute Responds to the Virginity Pledge Report, www.medinstitute.org]
THE POPULARITY OF TEEN PREGNANCY
When the data showed a decline in teen pregnancies, teen abortions, and teen sexual activity, the mainstream media barely noticed. Almost nobody heralded that landmark accomplishment which coincided with more widespread abstinence programs in schools and community programs. However, now that the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a slight increase in teen births, it is making headlines.
Let’s get one thing straight at the outset: the increase in teen births was primarily in the 18- to 19- year-old group — in other words, primarily college students who have entered an alcohol-and-hook-up saturated environment where only the strong can stand up against the peer pressure, rampant promiscuity, co-ed dorms, and anything-goes culture.
It brings me no satisfaction to make that point; these 18- to 19-year-old young women are still teens, and their well-being is just as threatened by pregnancy and STDs from promiscuous, too-early sexual activity as it is with the younger teens. Nonetheless, the images most formed in people’s minds when they think of teen pregnancy are of 14- to 16-year-old high school girls.
Is the rising popularity of teen pregnancy any wonder? The media is trumpeting the notion that out-of-wedlock births are all the rage these days. The stories and images targeted to impressionable teens that are being broadcast through various mass media are shaped in ways that glorify the idea and simplify the issues surrounding the pregnancy of a young teenaged girl.
A new family-time show on ABC promises to depict “a new kind of family.”
The soap opera-type show called “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” averages an astounding 3.5 million viewers. The program features a 15-year-old high school student who discovers that she is pregnant. Supposedly, the drama gives the audience an opportunity to glimpse the trauma as a young, middle-class girl deals with her surprise pregnancy. A California media professor praised the show for breaking stereotypes and claimed, “It can happen to anyone.” Oh? Not exactly. Only a girl who has engaged in sex can get pregnant.
A major goal, said one critic, is to show that pregnancy does not just happen to the “slutty girls,” though it is hard to say in today’s world of rampant casual sex what is considered “slutty.” Media programmers cited Bristol Palin and Jamie Lynn Spears as examples of the range of socio-economic backgrounds of teenaged girls who become pregnant.
The ABC show actual traffics in its own set of stereotypes. The fairy tale pregnancy is depicted through predictably rose-colored glasses by glossing over the realities of teen pregnancy.
And the glamour treatment of teen pregnancy in the media fails to address the complexity of handling the details of school, pregnancy, finances, and paperwork.
If you believe the media depiction, pregnancy consists of cute little outfits, adolescent figures still intact with nothing more than an adorable “baby bump,” all the details fall into place magically, and the result is a blissful little mother whose lifestyle isn’t marred by 3 a.m. feedings or colic. No, all her friends look on her experience with envy and wide-eyed awe at her sudden emergence into adulthood; the teen continues on with her life the same in all respects, except for the added joy in the end of a beautiful, gurgling baby that she adores and everyone else admires.
The reality is that unmarried teen pregnancy is a sad event. Sarah Palin poignantly wrote of her daughter’s situation: Pregnancy makes a teen grow up too fast; the road ahead for a pregnant teen is a very difficult and hard path.
Parents today face enough obstacles in trying to teach their kids about consequences without television presenting a mythical, sugar-coated treatment of a serious subject like teenage sex. One could be excused for thinking that the media is pruriently pushing teen sex; after all, we rarely see positive treatments of families, of people who have deep faith that affects their behavior, or of adults who live out the traditional Judeo-Christian values.
We need to face some negative facts: One widely publicized study reported that girls, on average, lose their virginity at age 15, and over half of them use no contraception. They left the impression that “everyone is doing it, so all teens should join right in.”
Another study reported that virginity pledges don’t work. That study actually compared religious teenagers who took the pledge with religious teens who didn’t, rather than comparing religious teens who took the pledge with non-religious teens who didn’t — quite a distortion! So the media went crazy over a finding based on an erroneous comparison.
Little attention has been paid to an analysis of the study by Dr. Bernadine Healy, health editor of U.S. News and World Report, who was formerly head of the National Institutes of Health and the American Red Cross. Dr. Healy accurately pointed out that it was the religious commitment of a teen, rather than the abstinence pledge alone, that made the difference in teen sexual behavior.
One can only wonder why so many adults seem determined to undermine abstinence efforts and are unwilling to help our teenagers find a path toward a healthy and promising future. You have to wonder why a respected, peer-reviewed journal chose to published an article based on such an obviously flawed methodology.
But there are also some positive facts that the media has no interest in publicizing: Highly religious teens engage in sex at an older age than their peers; in fact, they generally wait until after the teen years to begin sexual activity — studies indicate that religious teens begin sex at 21 years of age and non-religious ones at 17.
A girl with a positive relationship with her father is less likely to engage in teen sex. In other words, family structure, family interaction, and a family’s faith have dramatic influence on a teen’s behavior.
Why do we not have popular programs geared toward impressionable teens that portray authentic religious faith and strong families in a positive light?
How sad that American pop culture — television, movies, and the Internet — actively undermine those influences that would encourage teens to greater well-being. How sad that in the media innocence is scorned and our teens are engulfed in a polluted culture that encourages them to question traditional values, kick aside Judeo-Christian beliefs, and lose their virginity as soon as possible.
Little wonder the streams of American life are turning bitter, when the wells from which they originate are poisoned.
(http://townhall.com/columnists/JaniceShawCrouse/2009/01/07/the_popularity_of_teen_pregnancy?page=1; Abstinence Clearinghouse, 14Jan09; POSTED: JAN 07, 2009, By Janice Shaw Crouse)
PARENTS SPEAK UP NATIONAL CAMPAIGN
Future Leaders Outreach Network of Kansas City, MO, (the African American Outreach Center) contracted in 2008 to conduct and oversee events targeting parents and caring adults in Atlanta, GA; Baltimore, MD; Brooklyn, NY and Washington, DC. Enthusiastic parents were equipped to talk to their teens about delaying sexual activity and abstaining from drugs and alcohol.
Throughout 2008, the Parent Abstinence Education Workshops and Parent Network Social events supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the Parent Speak Up National Campaign, was a huge success in Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. Approximately 458 parents, caring adults and teens in attendance with their parents attended a total of sixteen (16) parent abstinence education workshops and six (6) parent network social events…
Parents can influence the decisions their pre-teen and teen children make about sexual activity. Special attention was always given to guide parents to the www.4parents.gov website that provides additional assistance. The events were free and open to parents in each targeted community.
ZOE Group Foundation, lead agency for Washington, D.C., Abstinence Partnership and Future Leaders Outreach Network, can be reached by logging onto www.zoegroupfoundation.org.
(Source: “Parents Speak-Up National Campaign Ends the Year on Positive Note!,” myvoicedc.com, 01-12-09, http://www.myfoxwfld.com/myvoicedc/2009/01/12/parents-speak-up-national-campaign-ends-the-year-on-positive-note/; Abstinence Clearinghouse, 14Jan09; POSTED: JAN 12, 2009)
Condom Effectiveness in Teens & Young Adults
A recently published study in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reports on the use of condoms in 715 African American females aged 15-21. Participants who had engaged in intercourse within the last 14 days were asked how frequently they had used condoms. Vaginal fluid from the participants was then tested for evidence of sperm. Of the 186 participants who reported 100% condom use, 63 (34%) had evidence of sperm in their vaginal fluid. The authors note that their study did not try to explain why so many of the participants who reported consistent condom use had evidence of sperm in their vaginal fluid. Some possible reasons that the authors suggested were misreporting condom use, incorrectly using condoms, or wanting to give a socially desirable response.
To read the abstract of this article, click on the following link: http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/163/1/61
[12 February, 2009, MI Responds to the Virginity Pledge Report, www.medinstitute.org]
CONDOMS: DO KIDS USE THEM? DO THEY WORK WHEN THEY DO?
A new study in The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine answers those questions with a quiet “not reliably.”
Out of a group of 186 African-American females 15-21 years old who self-reported 100% condom use for the prior two weeks, lab tests revealed that a full 63 had evidence of the Y chromosome (male) in their bodies.
The researchers explain that perhaps the young women were not entirely accurate or honest in their self-reporting or that they used the condoms incorrectly. Maybe they used them, but some condoms broke or came off during sex. It happens.
(Source: “The Validity of Teens' and Young Adults' Self-reported Condom Use,” The Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, 1-2009, http://archpedi.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/abstract/163/1/61?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=HIV+prevention&searchid=1&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=date&resourcetype=HWCIT; abstinence.net, posted 29Jan09)
TEENS AND SEX: MAYBE NOT AS BAD AS YOU THINK
It’s not that they’re having so much more sex, according to the New York Times, it’s that they’re just not contracepting the way they should. Not likely, in our view, but it is interesting to see recognition of the solid number of sexually inactive teens today by the mainstream press.
(“The Myth of Rampant Teenage Promiscuity,” NYT, 01-26-09, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/27/health/27well.html; abstinence.net, posted 26Jan09)
COMMENTARY: HENRY WAXMAN AND THE SEXUALIZATION OF OUR CHILDREN
By Joanna Repsold
We are not animals subject only to sensual desires or controlled by our hormonal urges. We are a generation of incredibly talented, passionate, intelligent individuals committed to leaving the world a better place, to ending poverty, alleviating suffering and pursuing peace. We are today’s entrepreneurs and tomorrow’s leaders. And we are capable of forfeiting what we want in the moment for what we want most, if we would only be encouraged to do so by people that we admire and those claiming to have our best interests in mind.
wood.breitbart.com/jrepsold/2009/01/23/joanna-repsold-op-ed/; abstinence.net, posted 23Jan09)
COMMENTARY : LOOKING AT BOTH SIDES OF SEX EDUCATION
By Hiromitsu Masuda, senior, Ohio State University
To summarize, I'm tired of only hearing one side of the issue. For example, when a study came out in 2004 showing that the abstinence curricula "Choosing the Best" reduced sexual intercourse among students by up to 60 percent, I had trouble finding any mainstream news source bothering to mention it.
With a mountain of scientific evidence showing that delaying sexual activity and having healthy relationships is beneficial for teens, it should be common sense that we need to be working on accomplishing those goals.
[http://media.www.thelantern.com/media/storage/paper333/news/2009/01/12/Opinion/Looking.At.Both.Sides.Of.Sex.Education-3583309.shtml; abstinence.net, 12Jan09)