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It is also noted in Public Health Reports. "We know that the single best indicator of virginal status in girls is peer experience. 33
What these studies confirm is what Bill Bennett has been saying for some time:
Courses should stress that sex is not simply a physical or
It appears then, based on the literature, that teens are seeking love and we are giving them biology classes. Teens are seeking guidance guidance about whether to
engage in sexual experimentation and we are merely listing options for them. Teens are seeking to belong, to be given a sense of community with shared values, and we are giving them a hall pass to see the school nurse.
RISK TAKING BEHAVIORS ARE INTERRELATED
Adolescence is a developmental stage characterized by rapid physical and psychosocial growth. It is a time when many teens are prone to reckless behavior:
Healthy People 2000, p. 193.
Macdonald, Donald I., M.D. "An Approach to the Problem of Teenage Pregnancy," Public Health Reports, July-August 1987, pp. 377-385.
Bennett, William, J., former Secretary of U.S. Department of Education, "Sex and the Education of our Children" Remarks at the National School Boards Association, Washington, D.C., January 1987, p.
Adolescence is characterized by rapid physical and
There are considerable data to support the concept that early sexual activity is associated with other health-endangering behavior like smoking and drug use:
Sex is only one of many risks that adolescents take. As with
Girls who are particularly vulnerable to alcohol or marijuana use are also likely to engage in early sexual activity:
Our data support the concept that sexual activity is a
37 O'Reilly, p. 262.
38 ibid. pp. 267-268.
As a society, we do not accept the inevitability of substance abuse. We are resolute in our stance against it and our message is beginning to take hold. Yet, when it comes to teen sexual activity, the message crumbles, our resolve disintegrates:
Regarding drugs, we are now sending an absolute message
The argument that "everybody is doing it" is not the position we as a culture hold when the issue is drugs, alcohol, or violence. The campaigns to reduce substance abuse or violence send clear and direct messages. So when experts urge that we should not muddle the message about sexual activity we should heed the call:
We need to impress upon our children that they should
EARLY SEXUAL ACTIVITY: MULTIPLE PARTNERS
Early sexual activity with its risk of multiple lifetime partners has been described as the most important health risk factor for
Orr, Donald P., Beiter, Mary, and Ingersoll, Gary, "Premature Sexual Activity as an Indicator of Psychosocial Risk," Pediatrics, February 1991, p. 145.
40 Bauer, p. 26.
* Weatherley, Richard A., "What to do About Teen Pregnancy?", Review Essays, Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law, Spring 1990, p. 217.
young women in America.42
As the following figures clearly demonstrate, the number of teens who are sexually experienced has increased significantly between 1970 and 1988. (See figures 3a and 3b)
42 Elkins, Thomas E., M.D., McNeeley, S.G., Tabb, Thomas, "A New Era in Contraceptive Counseling for Early Adolescents," Journal of Adolescent Health Care, November 1986.