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Rebecca Hagelin / Oct. 27, 2009

Parents, Teens and Sex

We live in a culture that promotes teen sex at every turn.

T-shirts with slogans like “Everyone loves a slutty girl” sort of summarize what teens are up against. Marketers, liberals, and the mass media have reduced sexual activity to little more than an amusing hobby, and made the concept of sexual purity seem backwards and outdated.

Feminist author Naomi Wolf, who seeks to influence this generation of young women writes, “There are no good girls; we are all bad girls, in the best sense of the word.” She invites readers to join her in an effort to “explore the shadow slut who walks alongside us.” Wolf is just one example of why the new breed of feminism is so dangerous: It argues that women should be able to employ any means to get ahead - even the exploitation and abuse of their bodies.

But statistics that demonstrate the harm caused by such objectifying behavior are endless and alarming. They include a report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy revealing that the United States has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the Western industrialized world. 3 in 10 young women under the age of 20 will become pregnant at least once. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 48 percent of high school students say they have had intercourse, and fifty percent of new sexually transmitted diseases each year are in youth ages 15-25.

And here’s the clincher: studies show that a sea of teenagers are living with regret. 55 percent of the boys and 70 percent of the girls who had sex now say they wish they had not.

Recently I asked a beautiful teenage girl who is very bold about her stance for purity what motivates her to hold her ground. She said simply, “My sense of morality, which is based on my faith and the values my mother and father have taught me.” This teen is very active in Young Life and church youth groups, and her parents have always been frank with her about sex, abstinence, and wanting the very best for her life.

It was encouraging to hear that her faith and her parents have more influence than even the massive amounts of media that glorify sexual promiscuity.

If you think this young woman is an anomaly, think again. In study after study, when asked what influences them the most, teenagers overwhelmingly say, “My parents.” Children of all ages are desperate for their parents’ attention and love - and guidance.

It’s not a matter of whether or not you have influence - the question is: “How are you going to use it?” If you are silent on the issue of sexual activity, your silence will be taken as an endorsement of the behavior. But if you clearly communicate the value of abstinence, show your love every day, and vow to never give up in the effort to connect with your children, you can influence their worldview, their choices, and the course of their young lives for the better.

When I asked if there were any other factors in her decision she said, “Respect. I know that I will have more respect from my peers if I uphold high standards.”

She had learned to recognize a positive type of peer pressure - the side that is often missed. In their hearts, kids know what type of behavior is respectful and what is not. Despite media efforts to warp views to the contrary, teens respect their peers who rise above the status quo.

So, to summarize: A strong faith in God, a clearly defined sense of morality, the right kind of parental influence, and understanding what leads to being respected are critical elements in helping your teens win the “sex” wars. For tips on how you can better equip them, visit www.abstinence.net.

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