Saturday, March 15, 2008
1 in 4 Teen Girls Has Sexually Transmitted Infection
'We’re missing a tremendous opportunity to talk to them about the benefits of being abstinent until marriage.'
One in four teen girls in the U.S. has a sexually transmitted infection (STI), according to a study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That adds up to more than 3 million girls.
Among girls who admitted having had sex, the rate was 40 percent, The Associated Press reported. Human papilloma virus (HPV), which causes cervical cancer, is the most common STI in teen girls ages 14 to 19, the CDC found.
But the CDC conference in Chicago, where the study was released, ignored a key component, said Linda Klepacki, sexual health analyst for Focus on the Family Action.
“With such high disease rates in teenagers, we’re just missing a tremendous opportunity to talk to them about the benefits of being abstinent until marriage," she told Family News in Focus. "This is the time to teach kids about personal accountability and abstinence education. As it looks from this conference, the CDC is not grabbing that opportunity and taking it."
Klepacki said not only is the abstinence-until-marriage message left out of the discussion at these conferences, the topic is often mocked by experts at the CDC.
Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America, said bad public policy is to blame for the STI epidemic.
"Current public health policies are clearly failing to reduce the spread of STDs among young women," she said. "Public health officials need to admit their failures that have led to kids paying the price. Funding irresponsible sex-ed programs, ones that encourage kids to be sexually active, 12 times higher than funding abstinence programs unsurprisingly results in more kids being sexually active."
Klepacki added: “In addition, after the government funds education to assist kids in becoming sexually active, the taxpayers have to pay $15.5 billion more per year for health care to take care of STIs. Taxpayers, it’s time to say enough is enough!”
Teens at risk as permissive sex yields STD epidemic
Posted on Mar 14, 2008 | by Erin Roach
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Teenage girls particularly are at risk amid the permissive sex attitudes American culture has propagated for decades, leading to an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, a Southern Baptist physician told Baptist Press.
Don Buckley, a family physician in Pensacola, Fla., said a study released March 11 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "confirms the tragic stories that we in primary care hear virtually every day."
The study found that at least one in four girls between the ages of 14 and 19 nationwide is infected with a sexually transmitted disease, amounting to 3.2 million youth.
Richard Ross, co-founder of the True Love Waits movement, said churches are "getting lazy" in promoting abstinence as the only safe method in preventing the spread of STDs, teen pregnancy and a myriad of challenges that can stem from premature sex.
"Teen sexual activity rose for 20 straight years, from 1973 to 1993," Ross told Baptist Press. "True Love Waits started in 1993. Since then, teen sexual activity has dropped for 14 unbroken years. But in 2008, there has been a slight uptick. If the church is not vigilant, we will go right back where we were."
As evidence that some churches have become lax in their efforts at curbing teen sex, Ross said he has spoken with numerous pastors who have said their churches present the True Love Waits abstinence challenge only once every three or four years.
"We need a red alert to jar pastors and youth ministers out of their complacency," Ross, a professor of student ministry at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, said. "They think the stats will just continue to drop on their own, and 2008 proves that is not the case."
Daniel Heimbach, a professor of Christian ethics at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., said his main concern with the CDC statistics on STD rates is "the indication of the lack of any sense of personal responsibility and the cheapening of sex and relationships, and the implication that has not only for individuals but for the culture as a whole."
Heimbach, like Buckley and Ross, said the solution to the alarming statistics is an increased emphasis on sexual abstinence among the nation's youth.
"It shows the erosion of the moral foundations of our society and culture, which is by God's grace protected by sexual standards that God gives in terms of saving sex for marriage," Heimbach, author of "True Sexual Morality: Recovering Biblical Standards for a Culture in Crisis," said of the study.
"This is obviously an indicator of the huge number of people -- in this case girls, but it obviously takes boys as well -- that are engaging in sexual activity in very immoral and unprotected ways, unprotected morally and unprotected health-wise," Heimbach said. "This is a disaster in the making, and the only answer is to respect and uphold God's standards and be kind to others in the process but say, 'You're heading on a road toward destruction.'"
Ross said one of the most effective ways for churches to lead in efforts to save youth from the harmful consequences of premarital sex is to introduce them to the abstinence message through an emphasis like a True Love Waits dedication ceremony. Such services, he said, need to be held on a yearly basis in order to reach as many youth as possible.
"Perhaps church leaders shy away from an annual promise ceremony because they don't want to ask a student to sign six cards while young," Ross said, referring to the pledge cards that students sign promising to abstain from sexual activity until marriage. "They have missed the point. We never ask teenagers to make multiple promises.
"In fact, it offends Christian students when they are asked to promise again," Ross said. "In their minds, their original promise was a promise to God and that promise stands to their wedding day and beyond."
The annual invitation to participate in a True Love Waits promise ceremony, Ross said, should be made to middle school students recently promoted into the student ministry department, to all students who have committed their lives to Christ during the past year, and to students who have joined the church and have no background with the abstinence movement.
"Students who have made promises in previous years participate in Bible teaching on purity and they attend the ceremony to support the first-timers, but no one places yet another card in their hands," Ross said.
The idea that promoting abstinence through a commitment service every few years is enough must be corrected, he said.
"Few churches highlight international missions only once every few years. Few would decide to offer Vacation Bible School only once every few years. Churches give annual attention to those initiatives because they have Kingdom importance," Ross told BP. "Those initiatives matter in people's lives in the same way that a lifestyle of absolute purity matters.
"If we are vigilant, the statistics will continue to improve," he added. "If we are not, all the tragedies that attend teen sex will increasingly be part of our families, churches and nation."
Buckley, from a physician's perspective, said abstinence needs to be the major message for youth, especially given that teenage girls' bodies are particularly susceptible to STDs because of factors accompanying their physical development.
"There is no fool-proof safe sex practice outside of a monogamous marital relationship," Buckley said. "There is in this fallen world a place for things such as HPV vaccinations, but that is not our primary message. Our goal is sexual purity and abstinence before marriage."
Regarding the physical implications of girls being infected with an STD, Buckley said one chlamydia infection gives a woman a 25 percent chance of infertility.
"About 30 percent of infertility is due to scarring of the fallopian tubes, and about half of those cases are due to chlamydia," Buckley said. "Chlamydia is often a silent sexually transmitted disease. You may not even recognize an infection sometimes."
Buckley also said it's a myth to say that condoms are an effective prevention method against certain STDs.
"It's kind of ridiculous to think that condoms are the answer when condoms have a 25 percent failure rate for preventing pregnancy. They're not the answer." The standard, Buckley reiterated, is abstinence -– "sexual purity before marriage and maintaining a monogamous marriage relationship."
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press. For more information on True Love Waits, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, visit the website at www.lifeway.com/tlw.
Friday, March 14, 2008
Porn-Maker Praises Planned Parenthood's Teenwire Web Site
By Penny Starr
CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
March 13, 2008
(CNSNews.com) - David Mech, or David Pounder as he's known in pornography circles, said that Planned Parenthood's Web site for teens, Teenwire.com, is an excellent source for young people to learn about what he considers the benefits of viewing pornography. Mech contacted Cybercast News Service after reading its report about Teenwire.
"Planned Parenthood is an excellent organization that helps people by focusing on how people actually are behaving (i.e., having sex, watching porn, doing drugs, etc.), as opposed to helping people based on how they should be behaving (abstaining from sex, watching the news, eating healthy, etc.)," Mech, a pornography producer and actor, told Cybercast News Service.
"Men in their teens are accessing porn, and I think it's a normal thing," he said.
Mech, who said he was first exposed to pornography at 13 or 14 through a friend, agrees with Planned Parenthood's approach of promoting pornography "as an alternative to having sex," especially if Teenwire.com's advice on "outercourse" helps reduce sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
He added that in today's society, where young people are encouraged to earn a college degree before marriage, Teenwire.com is providing content, including tips on viewing pornography that modern teens need.
"It used to be that people got married at 13 or 14 years old," Mech said. "It's unrealistic (today) to expect people not to have sex before marriage."
That's why, Mech said, sex education shouldn't rely on an abstinence-only approach.
"I think teens are going to have sex regardless," Mech said. "Comprehensive sex education is the way to go, and if pornography is included as part of the program, that's okay.
"Planned Parenthood is doing an exceptional job," Mech said.
John Haney, psychotherapist with Crossroads Counseling and Associates in Austin, Texas, has worked with many teens and adults who have compulsive sexual disorders. He disagrees with Mech that viewing pornography is a good way to learn about human sexuality.
"It's normal for (teenage) boys to have an interest in sex, but it's not healthy for them to explore it that way," Haney told Cybercast News Service. "I think if a teen is turning to pornography to get information about sexuality, they are going to get a distorted and incomplete view."
Distorted, he said, because most pornography depicts male domination and women as sexual objects rather than human beings, and incomplete, because sexual acts aren't put into perspective.
"(Pornography) completely neglects the emotional aspects of intimacy," Haney said. "There is more to sex than the physical aspect."
He added that viewing pornography also give teens - especially young girls - an unrealistic and even destructive way of viewing themselves and their sexuality.
Mech claims that even if pornography is still a taboo in today's society, it is accepted as mainstream - and harmless - by most people.
"For every one person addicted to pornography there are a thousand people who view pornography responsibly," Mech told Cybercast News Service.
Haney said teens should be taught that sex is a normal and a "God-given" fact of life, but that responding to their interest in the topic requires more than relying on the kind of advice found on Teenwire.com. For instance, the Teenwire Web site includes the following:
"There are a few things you should know about the images you might see. First of all, many people enjoy pornography alone or with a partner as part of sex play. People have different ideas of what is arousing, and there are many different kinds of porn that appeal to people's different interests."
"Curiosity about sex is normal," Haney said. "And we shouldn't shame kids about an interest in sex, but I don't think pornography is the way to educate them."