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January 7, 2016 12:00 pm
This week, NC Family president John Rustin talks with Valerie Huber, president of Ascend, formerly the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), about why more American teens are delaying sexual activity, and the important role parents can play in helping teens make wise decisions about sex.
This is family policy matter program is produced by the North Carolina family policy Council of profamily research and education organization dedicated to strengthening and preserving the family and up from the studio here is John Rustin, Pres. North Carolina family policy Council, thank you for joining us this week for family policy matters. It is our pleasure to have Valerie with us on the program. Valerie is president of the soon only known as the national abstinence education Association send is a professional association that represents organizations and individuals who support a priority own risk avoidance through abstinence education Valerie formally served as the director of a community-based abstinence initiative and as a title V coordinator for the state of Ohio. She is with us today to discuss why more American teenagers are delaying sexual activity in the critical role that parents play in helping teams make wise and cautious decisions about sex.
Valerie welcome back to family policy matters. As always it's great to have you on the program.
While there were so appreciative of the great work that you do. And of course our we hear a lot these days about teens who were becoming sexually active with the actual percentage of teens who were abstinence or who are not active sexually is actually pretty high. How many teams are choosing to delay sexual activity nationwide.
While the majority of those numbers approximately moving in the right direction over the last decade, which is probably most of your listeners until Americans in general. In fact, over the last 20 years we have been more than 15% increase in the percentage of teens who are not having tax more teams are choosing to delay sex that raises an important question as to what is driving this trend and I know that as soon recently commissioned a survey from Barna research to ask that exact question.
Questions were asked in this Barna research pole and what did they discover. Well, it was a pretty ricks: I like quite the one that your referring to is there survey Barna conducted a 19-year-old clean clean either have just graduated from high wall or will be graduating soon. Nevertheless, they have for the most part completed their sex education classes in all and so we asked them a variety of questions about that experience, but also about their own behaviors, whether healthy or unhealthy. Among those 18 to 19-year-old clean who had not had sex.
We asked them what compelled them to wait and interestingly I now it wasn't clear of sexually transmitted disease.
It wasn't a fear of becoming pregnant or getting someone pregnant the top two reasons really should be encouraging to last one was their own personal values and the second as they don't want to just have casual sex they want to make sure that when they have within the context of of a committed relationship. Now we hope that that means marriage. For some it does for some it doesn't. But it's certainly a step in the right direction and certainly more optimistic and hopeful than many of the headlines that we've heard where casual sex really in the day for this generation, it appears that in fact it is not encouraging you been to Michelina for a long time. What does this finding. Tell us about what teens really want and what they really need is as it relates to sex education programs like you know sex education that are receiving throughout the country has a really I would say a troubling turn, particularly under the policies of the Obama ministration. As you know, decisions that are made in Washington DC have either forgot or foretell a trickle-down effect to them to the various states into the community. This is one instance where that is true. We have seen sex education classes put much more of an emphasis on normalizing sexual activity among teens basically telling them it's okay for you to experiment sexually. Just make sure that you are "careful and don't get pregnant, or cause a pregnancy, and so this whole discussion has been reduced to nearly a pregnancy prevention approach. What the survey tells us that when teens are making these sorts of decision there thinking about something much more holistic than whether or not they are afraid or are concerned about causing or becoming pregnant. So our discussion needs to be more holistic as well. You look at as you mentioned those two primary reasons routines waive personal values and wanting to wait for a committed relationship is truly significant. Teams are looking more deeply at this issue and probably a lot of parents and educators would give them credit for nothing that is so key again about Doug so encouraging damage so important the work that you all are doing it assumed to study this issue and get that information out so that we really understand better how teens are thinking about these issues and what can be done to effectively encourage them to remain abstinent to delay sexual activity until they enter into hopefully a committed marriage relationship. No Valerie, a new study published in the latest issue of the journal pediatrics found that when parents set rules and monitor their children's activities, then kids tend to delay sexual activity longer. What is your response to the study's findings and in general how important our parents to helping teams make wise decisions about sexual activity with over the importance of parents starting one of that you know from a commonsense Sandpoint you think, why did they have to do a study tell us that we would assume that Kate, but it's always good to have research to back up what we intuitively know to be true and that is when parents are engaged and involved setting boundaries and providing oversight have a very real effect on the behavior of team just about every survey of teens out there when half where they want direction regarding dating facts and related issues. The number one responses from their parents. I think that a lot of times. Parents feel neither ill-equipped and hypocritical if they engaged in sex as a team themselves. It's a topic that's uncomfortable and so it's easier to just stay away from it and so because of that. A lot of times parent art, saying things when when in fact they detail I think so as well that the actual messaging also has an impact on how parents often communicate with their team and so you see campaigns that say for example talk to your kids about sex pretty generic request and and that's how Planned Parenthood another organization like that encourage parents to be involved up.
What is that really mean well, one of the one of the results Barna research that we haven't even released yet also speaks to this issue and we asked the same team where you feeling pressure to have sex and not surprisingly, the top responses were movies, music, social media things such as that word with the top factors that may teens feel like sex was expected. Right below that were the sex ed classes that focus on normalizing sex, but I believe it was about 15 to 17% of teen also said that they were feeling pressured to have sex from your parents. And so when you just have a conversation about back and eager say explicitly or implicitly.
I know you can have sex, so make sure you use contraception when you when you do. I'm wondering if that is sending a message of entities, teens that sex is expected.
So having those conversations that parents are very key but the research is pretty clear that when having the conversation we need to be very clear. Set those expectations high, while also communicating to our child that even if they make unhealthy decisions. That's not going to compromise our love for them, but that we believe that they can and should wait for Zach to teenagers. If I can very much relate to the one thing I would add is that even if those teams don't appear to be listening to what you say you probably are busy so don't ever underestimate the impact that you were words of encouragement you want direction as a parent can have all the mentally all role in our responsibility as parents to provide clear guidance and direction of what those expectations on what we know to be best for them and steer them as best we can in the right direction Valerie in light of the critically important role that parents do have in the lives of their children and affected teens are choosing to delay sex mainly due to his use personal values and a desire to wait for a committed relationship. What you believe the proper role of our government is using our tax dollars for such education should our federal government or state tax dollars be used to promote a comprehensive sex ed type of agenda order to promote abstinence education that encourages students to be responsible and to delay sexual activity, government nor the federal government to be involved in case I just want to throw that out there that the ideal they had been involved in some manner I in this issue since World War I. So I think it's highly unlikely that ideal is going to become reality and kind down, then we need to look at what sort of sex education. Our tax dollars going toward our day as they are right now about 95%.
In fact of our taxpayer dollars devoted to sex education am going to program that are telling teens to go ahead and experiment. Just be careful that is a message that as a Barna research shows makes teens feel pressured to have set but even more than that it's really setting a standard that is putting our young people at increased risk and and certainly that is not a wise use, or a healthy years of our taxpayer dollars. Certainly, the emphasis should be on what the social science and the health research and what we know to be healthier choice for team that is giving them the information. Building encouragement to wait for sex and if already been sexually experienced to make it healthier choice in the future we can only encourage lawmakers and parents and appointed officials, school administrators and other educators to understand that and that's why were so grateful Valerie for you when presented all the great work that you're doing before we close our topper this week. I do want to give you an opportunity to let our listeners know where they can go to learn more about the sound of the great work that you doing well. We are in the neck of the Rio Grande, so we have a holding page for the new website created they can go to we and.or and it will for right now.
Take taking back to DNA national at the station website, but very soon we will have a brand-new website where new data new lock and much more easy to navigate, or parent policymakers and concerned citizens website. Again, we soon got toward you didn't like you so much for your time today for being with us on policy matters and for your really important work promoting sexual risk avoidance and abstinence education nationwide abuse of such a critically important issue for our teams and so important that parents are involved or supporting this important agenda for our young people and we really appreciate your partnership well and we appreciate you so much Valerie and folded us in those thanks much for being with us today. All the best for the future.
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