Friday, October 21, 2011

Kids, Condoms, and Crafting a Response. . . .

Recently the CDC released another in what seems like a never-ending stream of reports on kids and their sexual activity. Perhaps you saw an article on the report's findings that was published last week. After reading the article in our local paper, I asked CPYU Associate Staffer Jason Soucinek for his response. Jason runs Project Six19 and is working closely with our Sexual Integrity Initiative here at CPYU. He'll be coming to Central Pennsylvania to lead a one-day training event - Life Up Close - How to Challenge Teens to Embrace Sexual Integrity - on Tuesday, November 8.

Here's what Jason had to say about the CDC's latest findings:

Last week, the CDC released a new study, Teenagers in the United States: Sexual Activity, Contraceptive Use, and Childbearing, 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth which gives conflicting data. There seems to be a continued increase in the number of teens that are choosing to not have sex. However, there continues to be an increase in number of teens that contract STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) each year.

Teens already bear the burden of 50% of all new cases of STDs. Yet they only comprise 25% of the total population. Notably, the study points out, girls ages 15-19, have the highest rates of Chlamydia, a common STD. This is troubling since this statistic overlaps the time frame when most teens receive sex education instruction.

What makes the rise in STDs even more surprising is that this report shows that condom use among teens has increased since 2002. If condom use is increasing among teens, but STD rates continue to rise, teens may be taking sexual risks because they have been taught that condoms offer adequate protection from the physical consequences related to teen sex.

We live in an age of paradox. These statistics dramatically demonstrate this. On one hand we are seeing the rise of condom use. Which we might think would cause a downturn in STD contraction. However, as this report clearly shows, that is not happening.

For years, sex education has focused on the condom as the cure all for all physical consequences. But over and over again that is proven false. Condoms can be an effective barrier in the contraction of an STD and preventing pregnancy, but it is not the most effective. There are three things worth noting about a condom and its effectiveness. First, in order for the condom to have any impact it has to be used. As you are probably aware teens are not the best at being prepared “in the moment”. The CDC states that in order for a condom to be effective it has to be used correctly and consistently, which means every single time they have sex. Any guess how often a teen uses a condom correctly and consistently? Some studies suggest that it is as low as 3% and no study goes higher than 63%. Even at the highest mark, which I doubt are that high, teens are still potentially exposing themselves to STDs and pregnancy 37% of the time.
Second, even when a condom is used correctly and consistently you can still transmit and contract an STD. Viruses like genital herpes and HPV can grow in areas not covered by a condom. And once you get one of these STDs they don’t go away. You can treat the symptoms but you will always have the virus.

Finally, a condom will never protect a teen from the emotional, social and spiritual consequences related to early sexual activity. This seems to be the one thing we forget when talking about sex. Yet these are the consequences that are sinking this generation. Higher depression rates, lower academic achievement, growing number of students suffering from anxiety, increased dropout rates and less self esteem have all been linked to early sexual activity. In fact, in the last 10-15 years, many colleges have had to double and triple their counseling staff to deal with some of these issues, like depression and anxiety. And one of the first questions they are trained to ask is, “Have you been sexually active?”

That is why speaking honestly about the choice to wait to have sex is a powerful tool in seeing fewer teens contract an STD. Empowering teens with the knowledge to abstain can be life changing. But the message must do more than just focus on the physical. It must break down the barrier of language, going beyond don’t to the why, and create a movement of teens that are better equipped to discern the many messages they hear in the media.

Abstinence is the safest and healthiest choice a teen can make for their future. Better grades, higher academic achievement, more money earned over a lifetime are some of the many benefits a teen and young adult can experience by choosing to wait for sex in a lifetime committed relationship. . . marriage. We just need to be willing to share this reality in a way that causes teens to listen.

That is why Project Six19 is proud to partner with CPYU in the sexual integrity initiative. On November 8 we will be presenting our Life Up Close curriculum. This school-based curriculum has been developed as a resource for youth workers, parents, church leaders and educators. During this one-day seminar we will discuss the social science surrounding early sexual activity, the need for media literacy, and our responsibility to talk about starting over while encouraging those that have chosen to wait to continue in their journey are some of the many topics that will be covered. Please consider joining us!

If you'd like to join us on November 8, you can get more info and register here.


Stephanie said...

“Abstinence is the safest and healthiest choice a teen can make for their future. Better grades, higher academic achievement, more money earned over a lifetime are some of
the many benefits a teen and young adult can experience…”

WHY, WHY, WHY, Jason? Out of the “ many benefits a teen and young adult can experience…” two of the benefits you mention directly relate to making “more money” and the other is “more money.” “Better grades” and “higher academic achievement” (somewhat redundant) are overwhelmingly sought for “more money earned over a lifetime.”

If there are “many benefits” couldn’t you have included at least one in your three examples, which did not relate to making “ more money?”

Do you think that Jesus would only have chosen, as you did, these three examples out of the “many?”

Do you think that Jesus would even have used one example that relates to wealth and materialism ?

I am SO SO SO disappointed.

Jason Soucinek said...


Thanks for your comment. I appreciate the plea for a better answer.

Obviously, scripture has a lot to say about this. Much more than just the three points I gave. However, my goal was not to respond with Christian doctrine as much as it was to share a healthy response in a school-based environment where we are limited in what we can share from a faith perspective. But you are right, Jesus would most definitely respond differently. He would be more concerned about what sexual sin is doing to the person on the inside, how it tears a person apart, then He ever would be about the external successes of such a choice.

The apostle Paul understood the power of sexual sin when he wrote, “flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” That really is why we see depression rates so high and why anxiety exists for the young men and women that choose to have sex early, as I stated in the blog. Sexual sin has this way of bringing great pain and hurt…because it never gets discussed. It sleeps in the darkness of the soul where often vocalizing it is seen as embarrassing or unwanted because it is easier to sit in sin rather than allow the grace that is extended through Jesus Christ to shed light on it.

And that would be a powerful reality if it were happening.

But even with all the discussion on sex in the church these days we are still faced with some harsh realities. Over 86% of young adults in the church today are having sex. Evangelical teens are having sex sooner than their peers that are NOT going to church, average age of first time sexual intercourse is 16.3 for an evangelical teen vs. 16.7 for a non-churched teen. Why?

My response, we’ve done a lot of pointing to the no’s in our faith rather than the bigger yes. God no’s are always encompassed within a larger yes. Further, our language needs to change from don’t to the why we wait. That is one reason why we are doing this seminar. To equip youth leaders with a language that is about much more than don’t. It is about the celebration, joy and excitement we can share in by looking to his yes, marriage. But it doesn’t stop there…and it often does. My heart, as I am sure it is with you based upon your comment, is that we need to point our hearer towards Jesus Christ. Sex can be a great apologetic that points people towards faith in Christ, if we allow it. Thus, making the discussion on sexuality an experience that removes the veil of secrecy and pain and is replaced with the light of transparency. That is forever my hope and desire.

Final thought, I know many people that have chosen to wait to have sex in marriage and never glorified God with that gift. They experienced great success, like I mentioned, and achieved many of their goals they had because sex never got in the way. It never short-circuited the relationship. It never caused them undue stress as they stayed up late at night worrying if they had an STD. It allowed them to do great things. However, they never got to experience the freedom that comes from choosing to wait out of gratitude (obedience) because of what Christ accomplished on the Cross. Their reward is not external it is eternal. It is not about what they achieve but what was already achieved. Personally, that is what allowed me to wait till marriage, after being sexually active at a young age and choosing to start over, much more than my desire to achieve financial success (which never happened:) but we have to start somewhere in a public school. Hopefully, if we start there and be, as the Apostle Paul says, a sweet fragrance it can begin a good work in the life of the teens that hear a positive message of choosing to wait to have sex until marriage.

Roger said...

Terrific response Jason, especially to an overly harsh critique. I really appreciated the final paragraph.

Stephanie said...

"making the discussion on sexuality an experience that removes the veil of secrecy and pain and is replaced with the light of transparency." YES! YES! YES!

Jason, thanks for taking so much time out of what I know has to be a very busy schedule, to respond at 10:06 PM. No one does that except for you and Walt.

I had no idea that this was being presented in public schools. I thought it was only being presented to youth groups. Now it makes perfect sense.

You made my day. Thanks!

Tammy Robinson said...
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Tammy Robinson said...
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Stephanie said...

ROGER, perhaps some people are just more concerned and realize the dire importance of following Jesus’ teaching about acquiring wealth, than you are. It is so extremely important that it trumps John 3:16.

”And again I say unto you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”

This is so important Roger, and so critical to our salvation, that it is the ONLY instruction in the entire Bible, that Jesus spoke of identically on three different occasions – Matthew 19:4, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25.

Due to the acquisition of “more money” preventing one from entering the Kingdom of God, I seriously doubt that anyone can be “overly harsh” in condemning its acquisition. Roger, do you also then think that Jesus was being “overly harsh.” ?

Tammy Robinson said...

“Abstinence is the safest and healthiest choice a teen can make for their future.”

Jason you are 100% totally, unquestionably, without a doubt, correct in your assessment. BUT, “the devil is in the details”, of which I will discuss two.

The “Achilles Heel” in this statement is the high percentage of Christian teens, which have received vigorous abstinence education, yet fail to be able to achieve abstinence (86% as you state in your comment). Drives and desires come in vastly different strengths, such as, exercising and maintain personal fitness (big disparity there), dancing the night away (me), delving into the supernatural (not me), participating in sports (again, big disparity), eating healthy (major disparity), etc.

The sex drive also comes in vastly different strengths. For some it is an overwhelming hormonally induced desire. It can be incredibly hard to control, especially in the teen years when the maturity and self-control levels are nowhere near what they are, as we grow older.

You seem to present that choosing between sex and abstinence presents the same degree of self-control as in choosing between leaving a party early due to having to work in the morning, or partying till dawn. Such is not the case. Not even close.

If abstinence education had a very high success rate I would be fully 100% behind it. It doesn’t! Again, not even close (14% success rate).

The following biblical analysis is the other “devil’s detail”. Let me present a partial transcript of John Blake’s coverage of the Oct.2011 issue of the evangelical publication “Relevant”:

The article in Relevant magazine, entitled “(Almost) Everyone’s Doing It,” cited several studies examining the sexual activity of single Christians. One of the biggest surprises was a December 2009 study, conducted by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, which included information on sexual activity.

80 percent of unmarried evangelical young adults (18 to 29) said that they have had sex - slightly less than 88 percent of unmarried adults, according to the teen pregnancy prevention organization.

The article highlights what challenges abstinence movements face. Movements such as “True Love Waits,” encourage teens to wear purity rings, sign virginity pledges and pledge chastity during public ceremonies. Yet many of these Christian youths eventually abandon their purity pledges.

The article also asks a question that rarely comes up in discussions about the abstinence movement. Relevant notes that in biblical times, people married earlier. The average age for marriage has been increasing in the U.S for the last 40 years. Today, it’s not unusual to meet a Christian who is single at 30 - or 40 or 50, for that matter. So what do you tell them? Keep waiting?

Scot McKnight, author of “The Jesus Creed,” and "One Faith: Jesus Calls, We Follow," acknowledges that young, single Christians face temptations that their counterparts in the biblical age didn’t face.

He tells Relevant:
“Sociologically speaking, the one big difference – and it’s monstrous – between the biblical teaching and our culture is the arranged marriages of very young people. If you get married when you’re 13, you don’t have 15 years of temptation.”

Ok, it’s me again. Please note in the above quote – “it’s monstrous”.

Continued ...

Tammy Robinson said...

Continued from above…

Every plan, whether it be military logistics, corporate strategy, political campaigning, medical procedures, and even the task of choosing which college to attend, all must have a “backup plan”, in case of the primary plan failing. Without one, the results are often disastrous and traumatic.

In our Christian love, care, respect, and understanding, we need to realize we are indebted to our children to supply them with a “backup plan” – Safe Sex Education. “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” There’s a reason for that axiom being handed down to each generation.

My tea-totaler father told me in my early teen years of the dangers of alcohol. It was preached over and over, using every different angle and reason imaginable. But he also told me that if I ever found myself under the influence of alcohol, that no matter what time it may be, to call him and he would pick me up. Sure enough, sneaking away to my first “party”, I ended up drinking, unable to drive, at 2:00 AM. As petrified as I was to call Dad, I trusted him. I trusted him to be there if I made a mistake. Well, he picked me up and never said a harsh word to me. It was as though he had just picked me up from visiting my grandmother. He could not have imprinted his lesson any more effectively. I never had to call him from a party again.

Although I had many differences with my Dad growing up, that one incident was always enough to maintain my utmost love and respect for him.

Dad gave me a “backup plan” because he loved me, dearly, and very well knew that in spite of his many numerous exhortations against drinking, that one day I may find myself needing a backup plan.

By preaching so strongly against Safe Sex Education we are actually restricting our children, if failing at abstaining, from being able to “call Dad”. They have no backup plan. We are leaving them defenseless.

This is so ghastly and unfair to our youth to leave them totally unprepared in a a short, sheer moment of weakness, to protect themselves from the devastating effects of unwanted pregnancies, heinous diseases, including the DEATH causing AIDS. Can you imagine your child contracting AIDS because you failed to give her/him a backup plan? You would never forgive yourself.

We have got to provide a “ride” in case our primary plan of abstinence fails, which statistically shows a greater chance of happening than succeeding. The fact that statistically it is shown that abstinence education has a greater chance of failing than succeeding, makes it absolutely imperative to provide a backup plan, NOT a primary plan, of Safe Sex Education.

We have all types of backup plans to cover major crises - just in case. Some of these are health, auto, home, and liability insurance. Would anyone even think of going without any of these insurances if they could afford them? Of course not. So why do we totally prohibit the free health, crisis, and liability insurance of Safe Sex Education to our teens?

Considering that Abstinence Education has an 86% failure rate, failing to offer a backup plan to abstinence training, is unconscionable.

Jim and Diane Ruehling said...

Tammy, including Safe Sex Education as a safety valve (backup) to Abstinence Education, is the most convincing and comprehensive treatise I have ever read on the subject.

Although this may appear "overly harsh" to some people, anyone who still insists on teaching ONLY Abstinence Education, without Safe Sex Education as a backup, while knowing that 86% of abstinence trained evangelical teens still have sex, is committing blatant child abuse. It grossly disregards the health, safety and welfare of their child.

Rafael Ortega, aka Ralph said...

If you knew that a certain method of teaching your child not to accept rides with strangers had an 86% FAILURE rate, would you teach it ?

Janelle said...

A note of Thanks for the Truth that Jason wrote here! As an abstinence educator, I strive to convey the Truth, the Whole Truth & Nothing But the Truth with the public & private schools in our area. I appreciate not only a statement clarifying misconceptions related to the recent CDC article, but also the attempt to reach Christian youth with the message as well (as stated above - a serious lack of communication exists there...) Finally, I would recommend the book "Hooked: How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children" by Dr. Joe McIhaney & Dr. Freda Bush to some of those who commented prior. Indeed it does show the difficulty in "self-control" once any teen ventures down the slippery slope of intimacy before marriage, but again as Jason stated - we have to get beyond just the physical implications of the problem. As one who specializes in STDs, I actually spend a great deal of time on the other consequences of so-called "safe sex"... emotional, social, spiritual... We have to get beyond just the physical...

Tammy Robinson said...

You recommend the book "Hooked: How Casual Sex is Affecting our Children" by Dr. Joe McIhaney & Dr. Freda Bush. Please be advised that Dr. McIhaney is the founder of The Medical Institute (MI). On its website, under “Training at MI”, it attempts to add validity to the institute by highlighting the fact that,

“The BFC (Building Family Connections) curriculum, funded and reviewed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), teaches parenting adults skills to begin the lifelong conversation with youth about sex and healthy relationships.”

From the March, 2006 edition of The New Yorker magazine, investigative reporter Michael Specter discovered,

“The Medical Institute secured CDC backing for its med school curriculum by way of a Congressional earmark. It won't say which members of Congress intervened on its behalf, and they're not jumping to take credit, either. It was NEVER (my caps) reviewed nor approved by the CDC.

“When word got out about the curriculum, sexual-health experts affiliated with the CDC were taken by surprise. The agency had posted no request for proposals. It had put on no competitive bidding process. Instead, the earmark was all the Medical Institute needed. Earmarks may be business as usual when it comes to building bridges or museums. But in academic public health, they are almost unheard of. "I worked for CDC between 1985 and 1989 and have worked closely with them since leaving, and have never seen this type of funding mechanism for STD-related work," says Jonathan Zenilman, chief of the Infectious Diseases Division at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center.”

The MI website, under “Our History”, goes on to arrogantly lie about its medical supremacy, without any documentation,

“MI is the LEADING (my caps) organization in the United States studying the science involved with the sexual behavior of adolescents and young adults and the impact that behavior has on the spread of sexually transmitted infections as well as the emotional and physical implications. MI is the ONLY (my caps) organization in America that is backed by a highly qualified team of nationally recognized MDs and PhDs dedicated to providing science-based sexual health information.”

Shame on you MI ! And shame on “Focus on The Family” for so frequently airing Dr. McIhaney !


Tammy Robinson said...

Continued from above…

JANELLE, you go on to state,
“…as Jason stated - we have to get beyond just the physical implications of the problem. As one who specializes in STDs, I actually spend a great deal of time on the other consequences of so-called "safe sex"... emotional, social, spiritual... We have to get beyond just the physical...”

JANELLE, they ALL "...get beyond just the physical." I don’t know what abstinence programs you and Jason are referring to, but ALL the ones I’ve studied AND attended, have spent an inordinate amount of time on the “emotional, social, spiritual” aspects of it. Not a single program that I've studied or attended taught only the physical. In fact the overwhelming, if not all, of the studies that show an 86% failure rate are church sponsored abstinence programs, which ALL "...go beyond just the physical." It’s all just presenting the same concepts with just a slightly, insignificant twist. Unfortunately neither you nor Jason will be breaking any new ground upon significantly improving the current 86% failure rate.

Apologizes for my snarkiness, but these totally inadequate programs have been taught and failed for so long that it breaks my heart to think that so many teens are still being unnecessarily subjected to the life-long harsh catastrophic realities of their failures. It is so sad to realize that these programs are invariably used as moneymakers. Why else would anyone continue to teach a method that has an 86% failure rate?

Do either you or Jason believe you have a significantly new novel approach that hasn’t been tried before? If so, what is it? If you are fearful of copyright or patent infringement I’ll understand, if not, will you please tell me?

Jason Soucinek said...


I appreciate your desire to help youth. I can tell you care just as much for the health of youth as I do.

In fact, I was touched to hear about the story you shared about your father. That takes an incredible amount of restraint on the part of a parent. It requires boldness and courage to not get upset but to just love you throughout that experience. In fact, I have seen friends walk through situations similar to yours with their own teenager. One friend shared how he even held his daughters head over the toilet bowl while she threw up from a night of partying. He and his wife dedicated themselves to nursing their daughter back to some sort of sobriety so that she could fall to sleep. Then they did the same the following day as she recovered from her choice of going out and drinking. They never judged her and they never said a harsh word during that entire time. In fact, the only words they shared with their daughter was that they loved her.

However, they eventually had to discuss that evening with their daughter, that’s what a parent does…correct bad behavior. Besides, she was only 16 and they wanted to be sure she understood why they had set the boundary of not drinking. My friend shared how honest and raw she was because of how loved she felt. It brought them closer together and allowed her to know she could share anything her parents. She learned that they were a safe place.

I share all this to say that youth are looking for a safe place. They want the facts but more than that, they want to know their ideas and thoughts matter. They are not looking so much for a backup plan as much as they are looking for transparency and authenticity around this discussion. That moment you encountered with your father and the one my friend shared with his daughter required both to be open with one another, to be transparent. The daughter was exposed because of her choice to go out and get drunk but the father was also exposed. He could have feared that his “going easy” would cause her to continue to act out. Or, that his discipline after all was said and done was mean spirited. Fortunately, those risks paid off and because of it he, his daughter and his wife shared many more open and raw discussions on life.

I believe our approach is exactly that…to be honest and transparent. Notice, I never bashed the condom in my response to the CDC. I also didn’t rip safe sex education. Personally, I don’t think it helps youth to bicker back and forth. I think that we too often get bogged down with bickering that we forget why we are sharing this message, to help youth and young adults make better sexual decisions…to live a healthier life. And the reason I share the safest and healthiest choice is because I know that makes a youth, or a young adult, or even an adult’s life much richer.

That is why I am wrestling with your focus on “failure” rates and the “devil in the details”. Both are valid arguments, and not the first time I’ve heard about either. But I think it doesn’t help anyone. You seem to know a lot about this issue so I am sure some of what I share below will not be new to you but it might for those that are reading the back and forth.

(cont. in new post below)

Jason Soucinek said...

(cont. from above post)

First, the 86% failure rate does not tell the whole story. Yes, many Christian youth and young adults are sexually active. There is no denying that. But that number has actually been decreasing over the last several years and not increasing. It has been slow but it has been on the decline. Also, that statistic misses some great accomplishments among many of those that made an abstinence pledge but later have sex. To start with they have fewer sexual partners, usually only 1 or 2 in their entire lifetime. Because of this they are less frequently exposed to an STD or many of the emotional and social consequences that happen from multiple sexual partners. Although, it needs to be said that only one encounter can bring any of these consequences. Finally, and this might be the biggest thing that is missing, since they have more respect for their body, and don’t just see sex as a commodity, those that did have sex early wish that they had waited longer.

Something worth noting before I move on. I’ve never heard someone that promoted the back up plan honestly tell me that after they got married they wish they had been able to sleep with more people. Actually I am told just the opposite. They often share that they wish someone could have been honest with them about the choice to wait to have sex. In fact, I am someone that chose to become active because no one was honest with me about the consequences of this decision. But I did make a choice to start over and wait until marriage when I was 21…I waited until I was 33. For almost 14 years I waited…after already having experienced sex and knowing how great it could be. And I did it during a time that we often label as more impossible than for a teenager to wait! If I can do it, anyone can.

Second, the back up plan that you mention, safe sex education, is already in effect throughout most of our country. Many school districts have been embracing this concept for decades and will be for several more. Today $16 is spent on teaching about condoms and contraceptives to every $1 that is spent teaching our kids the value of waiting. Many states are now requiring that if abstinence is taught then they must teach the effectiveness of condoms and contraceptives. The idea that abstinence only programs are taking over sex education is misleading and simply not true. Abstinence is rarely discussed in these safe sex programs that are in the school districts, and when it is, it is breezed over because the teacher and the curriculum don’t expect youth to wait. In fact, on average the emphasis on condoms and contraceptives far outweighs the dialogue surrounding abstinence. Imagine though what could happen if a strong emphasis and clear message to wait was given far more often than the messages surrounding condom use. Even if we never discussed the condom in the classroom students would still know a lot more than any of us on the “safe sex” option. They hear about it far more often in popular media, nonstop news programming and in their music then we could ever dream.

However, I feel obligated to take ownership where abstinence programs have failed in the past. I think we focused too much on sex and not enough time nurturing healthy decision-making and media discernment among students. Some programs did a better job of getting kids to be fearful of sex then seeing it as something that takes a great deal of responsibility and care failing to teach students that their sexual health depended upon them. Not just saying no. And yes, the church has played a role in that. Notice, I’ve not even approached the issue of the church and how we’ve discussed this topic. That is a much larger issue. For now I will stick to our message in public schools.

(cont. in new post below)

Jason Soucinek said...

(cont. from post above)

Third, we need to be careful to not mix messages. I believe in the power of knowledge. I believe that when a teenager is presented with all the information they will make the choice that is healthiest. However, often times they are not given a choice. Often, students will tell me that they have never heard a message about discernment, about starting over, and protecting themselves from far more than the physical. We might think that they have but they haven’t. Many even confess that they’ve never heard a clear message on abstinence. It was abstinence and then condoms. Never a healthy focus on both, separate from one another. What do you think a student will hear when they are presented with both discussions in the same message? They will think, it safest to wait but I am incapable of waiting and I might as well have sex.

Finally, you did a great job of pointing out the many things an abstinence program does well. It teaches students about the many emotional and social consequences related to sex. And regardless of what you might think about the Medical Institute, the research that has been done surrounding the brain and sex is powerful and ever growing. When we have sex, we bond. It’s that simple. However, most students don’t ever receive that message as much as you might have been trained on it. Teachers are limited in how much time they can spend talking about “sex” because most states don’t require it on their state tests. Plus, many teachers already feel uncomfortable talking about this subject, so it only gets breezed over and the focus is almost always condoms first. Multiply all that with another fact, that usually it is only freshman in high school that study human growth and development (sex ed). It is often not taught in the years that follow, when they are truly beginning to contemplate having sex, especially in their junior and senior year, so they are left with few resources. This means that they are never reminded of the importance of waiting and the further they get from this decision without being reminded the more powerful the thousands of messages to have sex become.

You might think we need less abstinence messages. I think we need more. We need them to be frequent and often. They need to be given in a transparent and real way, giving the teenager, young adult or adult room to ask questions. But we also need to give real answers, hard answers and not just a back up plan because we think that they are at some point going to fail. If we really believe that abstinence is the safest and healthiest choice then I think we need to start acting like it.

Sorry for the long response but I felt like I needed to respond with some detail. Thanks again for being willing to share your thoughts and input.

Tammy Robinson said...

Wow Jason, where do I begin?

FIRST – I was just previewing a comment that I wanted to submit, when I saw that yours was right above my preview screen. I thought, “Wait a minute, Jason’s comment was way up top, why is mine previewing right below his.” Boy was I surprised to find your three-page response to me. So, I will first reply to your immediate comment and then submit the comment I was previewing in a following comment.
SECOND – Please ask Walt to increase the number of characters allowed. : - )
THIRD – In a strange way I feel guilty for being responsible for taking up so much of your time. Your effort is most appreciated.
FOURTH – I feel that I left no doubt that abstinence education should absolutely be stressed prior to Safe Sex.
FIFTH – We are definitely on the same page Jason, just different paragraphs. Although your program sounds similar to some of those out there, perhaps your program will have enough of a different approach to achieve a significant improvement over the others. I sincerely hope so. This issue is so vitally important.
SIXTH – You don’t address the “monstrous” biblical aspect of this issue presented by Scot McKnight in my previous comment. The fact that in biblical times children were getting married at 13 and 14 years old puts a whole new spin on the Bible’s supposed teaching on waiting to get married prior to having sex.
SEVENTH – I will now comment on a few of your statements. You write,

“To start with they (those having abstinence training) have fewer sexual partners, usually only 1 or 2 in their entire lifetime.”

This is an extremely uplifting statistic, if true. In all of my research I’ve never come upon it. Could you please cite your source? I hope it is not the “Medical Institute”. MI has no credibility with me (with you too I hope.)

“For almost 14 years I waited…after already having experienced sex and knowing how great it could be. And I did it during a time that we often label as more impossible than for a teenager to wait! If I can do it, anyone can.”

Not necessarily, you may have much greater self-control, or a much less sex drive, than you think. I would say you’re quite the anomaly. Also, if your intent is to give teens the tools to wait anywhere near 14 years, that alone, demands a back up plan.

“Today $16 is spent on teaching about condoms and contraceptives to every $1 that is spent teaching our kids the value of waiting.”

With a failure rate of 86% for abstinence training how do we even justify that $1 ?

“But we also need to give real answers, hard answers and not just a back up plan because we think that they are at some point going to fail.”

We don’t “just” give them a backup plan because we “think that they ARE at some point going to fail.” We give them a backup plan because we realize that with an 86% failure rate, they “MAY” fail. So in this case what should loving parents do to have them, AND the potential undesired child, avoid LIFE LONG detrimental consequences?

Tammy Robinson said...

Continued from above

“Sorry for the long response…”
No need to apologize whatsoever, in fact it’s greatly appreciated.

“What do you think a student will hear when they are presented with both discussions in the same message? They will think, it safest to wait but I am incapable of waiting and I might as well have sex.”

Let’s give them more credit than that Jason. First, when you say “They will think…” How do you know that they will think that? Did you get that knowledge from asking them? Perhaps some will think that way, but if both are taught properly, they will think, “It is most definitely safest to wait, but “IF” I am incapable of waiting, I want to know how to avoid all types of diseases, including AIDS, and an unwanted pregnancy (not,” I might as well have sex.”)

“But we also need to give real answers, hard answers and not just a back up plan because we think that they are at some point going to fail.”

We don’t give them “a backup plan because we think that they are at some point going to fail.” We give them a backup plan so they don’t have to spend the rest of their lives regretting a decision they made due to the lack of a backup plan. Knowing that 86% fail at abstinence, what’s better for these 86% - knowledge of safe sex, or no knowledge of safe sex?

If honesty, transparency, and respect for their input is so valued, why don’t we ASK THEM, if they prefer abstinence education only, or do they prefer that they are also given a backup plan, so as not to be affected for life by a sheer moment of weakness and lacking the knowledge of how to safely respond. Don’t be shocked at their answer.

Will you respect it and give them both?

Tammy Robinson said...

First, let me correct the last sentence of my above comment posted on Oct 24, 4:50 PM. It should read, “If you are fearful of copyright or patent ‘theft’ (not infringement) prior to receiving proprietary rights to your unique abstinence program, I’ll understand, if not, will you please tell me?”

Jason I would like to offer a constructive suggestion to your overall excellent review of the CDC’s recently released study. You must always remain objective when reviewing the results of a scientific or sociological study. Allowing just one slip of personal bias renders your entire review suspect.

“Any guess how often a teen uses a condom correctly and consistently? Some studies suggest that it is as low as 3% and no study goes higher than 63%. Even at the highest mark, which I doubt are that high, teens are still potentially exposing themselves to STDs and pregnancy 37% of the time.”

Let me respond to the last sentence in that quote as,
“Even at the highest mark, which I doubt are that high, teens are still potentially exposing themselves to STDs.”

First, why do you "doubt" the higher percentage statistic, and second, why do you doubt the higher percentage and not the lower percentage ?

You fail to give any justification for your “doubt.” Personal bias then comes through loud and clear, which then casts a cloud over your entire findings. Are you picking and choosing the reader wonders? I now know that you’re not because I read the entire study after detecting your bias, but I should not have had to.

Tammy Robinson said...

How I could have forgotten to include the MOST important additional element supporting a backup plan, I have no idea.

Not only does a backup plan help reduce catastrophic consequences to the young girl and boy, and potential birth of what often is an undesired child, but most importantly it reduces the killing of these undesired children. That reason alone is enough !

Rafael Ortega, aka Ralph said...

I have greatly enjoyed the interesting discourse between both Jason and Tammy. Both make valid points, which is the reason this is such a difficult subject to side with one or the other. I do though feel more comfortable siding with one side more than the other.

I think we can all agree with Jason’s assessment that to some degree teens that are taught both Abstinence and Safe Sex Education will be more apt to utilize the backup plan. To what degree, we don’t know. Out of the current 14% who stay with the Abstinence program, after having been taught ONLY the Abstinence program, what percentage would continue with abstinence if they were also taught Safe Sex Education? No one knows, so let’s use the best-case scenario that would support Jason’s position, and the worst-case scenario that would support Tammy’s position. Drum roll please. That scenario would be that 100% of those receiving both Abstinence and Safe Sex would end up having sex, with 0% remaining abstinent.

Be advised that Safe Sex Education, properly taught, teaches the boundaries that sex can be engaged in safely. It does NOT teach that using safe sex techniques, that all types of sexual behavior can be engaged in - far from it. The limits are greatly stressed.

Now here it is in a nutshell.

With this best case scenario for Jason:
1 - With Abstinence training only, we would have 14% remain abstinate and 86% would have sex without any knowledge of Safe Sex Education.

2 - With both programs being taught, we would have 0% abstain, but 100% having had Safe Sex Education.

Parents take your pick.

Stephanie said...

Jason, although Tammy sometimes asks rhetorical questions, in her previous comments she asked two questions that are very important in helping me determine my feelings on the issue of combining both abstinence training and safe sex education, and the relationship you are trying to establish with teens.

When you say, “But we also need to give real answers, hard answers…” what would your answer be if teens want safe sex ed included with your abstinence training? Would you try to talk them out of wanting safe sex ed? Would you tell them to seek that information elsewhere? I believe that if safe sex ed is desired by teens that the very best place for it to be taught is the Church.

The second question of Tammy’s that went unanswered and would greatly help me by being answered is when you say, “To start with, they (those having abstinence training only) have fewer sexual partners, usually only 1 or 2 in their entire lifetime.” What is your source that supports this very powerful finding? I hope it is not the Medical Institute.

Stephanie said...

Jason, I can’t believe you failed to answer my above simple two questions, when you were able to write 5 pages while in your comfort zone. All that was needed was a short response of “I forget where I got that statistic”, and “I’d tell them that I would not teach safe sex ed.” Unfortunately Jason, your silence speaks volumes.

You seem to have the time and effort to give extensive responses when you are controlling the message, but when you are not controlling the message, not so much.

So much for your “hard answers to hard questions”
That sounds so phony to me now.

5 of my friends told me that you would totally ignore my two questions. I said that you wouldn’t.

Jason Soucinek said...


Not trying to avoid you but you must realize this is not my blog. The only reason I saw your post was that I needed to check on something and saw another comment.

I have no desire to control this message. In fact, I am not worried about winning or losing this battle. My heart and desire is to speak to youth and young adults about the safest and healthiest choice they can make for their future. If you don't think that is possible then I understand. I believe otherwise and it is why I continue sharing a message of sexual integrity.

In response to your first question, I am already in schools that teach safe sex ed. Our program comes right along this approach. This is how it is in most schools throughout the country. However, you're right, I don't hand out condoms or teach kids how to put them on. My message is one that tells them that they can wait and the freedom that is found in doing so. But when I share honestly and the school district shares honestly it empowers the youth to make the best decision. And most of the time they see the benefit in our message.

As for the church, I don't think handing out condoms is the solution. The church is the place where we should be speaking hope and truth into the lives of youth. Not a lie about using condoms if you can't wait. Does honest conversation need to take place? Of course. But our job is not teach them safe is to point them towards Christ so that He can begin doing a transforming work in their life.

Second question, this information was not found on the Medical Institute website. It comes from a number of different data sets. Two that I can think of off the top of my head include, The Heritage Foundation and The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Here is a link to one study that helps with some of this data:

However, I must respond to your critique of the Medical Institute. Most of the research they provide does not come from them but others around the world. Many of whom don't share the same values as MI but want to find out the effects of early sexual activity, the working of the brain and sex, etc.

I hope I've been able to adequately address your questions. And I apologize that I didn't see them sooner.

Stephanie said...

Yes Jason, you did adequately answer my questions, and I fully understand that you didn't see them sooner. I will pray for your program's success. And yes, my five friends will be eating crow tonight. Good luck