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Copyright: ©2010 Debbie Thurman
SO, ABSTINENCE REALLY WORKS?
By: Debbie Thurman
In the world of adolescent psychology aimed at moderating teen sexual behavior, up is sometimes down and yes is sometimes no. But then, all secular science is that way.
Consider a recent study commissioned by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), which placed 662 African-American sixth and seventh graders from Philadelphia into one of four randomized groups and followed their progress for two years. It was the first study of its kind, as one of those groups focused on abstinence-only (of the practical, non-preachy or morality-based variety, say the researchers) as a means of discouraging the 12-year-olds from having sex. As many as 25 percent of them said they had already had sexual encounters.
After two years, 39 percent of the kids who had been in the abstinence-encouraged group reported having sex after the study ended, while 49 percent of those in the other three groups — “safe sex” classes, classes incorporating both safe sex and abstinence messages and classes in general healthy behavior — reported sexual activity. That’s a major statistical shift.
The results have been raising eyebrows in the scientific world since most researchers and policy wonks have long been convinced that abstinence-only approaches to sexual behavior modification are never as successful as other approaches.
One wonders if a psychologist is qualified to understand that only abstinence education is aimed at, well, abstinence. We already know such thinking is above the pay grade of think-tankers. All other approaches to moderating teen sexual behavior are focused on preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Does anyone really not get that sex-education-as-usual actually encourages animal-like copulation? Oh, and only abstinence addresses the other elephant in the living room: the emotional harm that comes from premature sex outside of marriage. Check out the latest “STD” — depression and suicide ideation, especially in girls.
John Jemmott III, lead author of the NIMH study, opines that the single focus of the abstinence-only approach may have been more effective because it removed the mixed messages of the other approaches. There’s a revelation. It also involved younger, less sexually experienced adolescents. Would this approach have had a similar impact on older teens? Probably not, as the horse is too long gone from the barn for them.
Jemmott and other psychologists tend to believe that parents have little choice but to resign themselves to the inevitability of their teen children engaging in premarital sex. Since the average age of marriage (note, sadly: it is referred to as “first marriage”) has risen to the mid-20s and beyond, “that's asking young people to delay sexual involvement for a considerable length of time,” according to Jemmott.
Our sex-crazed society, with its constant media bombardment, has convinced young people that they simply cannot survive without sex. They have equated it to breathing.
Whither the moms and dads, who can rectify this mess, by talking with their kids and setting the record straight, preferably before age 12? Yes, I know many of us are Boomers and Boomers’ kids, weaned on the “free love” mantra. So what? We, of all people, ought to have seen through its emptiness and deception long ago.
“Children want the conversation and they’re not getting it,” Jemmott said in a 2004 interview with “Psychology Today.” “In surveys, parents ranked very low when adolescents were asked, ‘From whom do you get most of your information about sex?’ When asked from whom they would prefer to get information, parents were at the top.”
That’s right. Our kids desperately desire to hear from us on the subject of sex. And that doesn’t mean they want to know how to put on a condom. They want to know how to put on morality, as seen in 2 Peter 1:4-7. Those who have “escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust” have done so through “knowledge … self-control … perseverance … godliness … brotherly kindness … love.”
I am betting if that morality play, acted out by parents, were a central part of the next study, we would see the numbers of kids abstaining from sex increase even more.
"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; email@example.com
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