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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Why “Abstinence Education” Fails: An Interlude (Part II)

A few people have brought to my attention, and rightfully so, that I may have simplified many factors that contribute to youth being so sexually active outside of marriage; factors beyond what abstinence educators can control or have influence on. Isolating this to abstinence education was somewhat intended though, and before I provide my so called “solution”, I would like to acknowledge that yes you all are right to say there are so many factors that affect a child/teen's mental, social, emotional development. It would be inaccurate for me to claim that abstinence education’s failures are solely to blame. They’re not.

Let me further set some framework though, in response to some of these external factors like family and environment pointed out. Firstly, my social paradigm has been formulated within what was a mostly high to lower middle class, Caucasian community. Sure there was a smaller minority contingent in my community and high school, but the majority of my social interaction, and in college, composed of relationships and observations of status similar peers. This is something I didn’t chose and don’t feel bad about. It’s just how it is. Do I know inner city and many at-risk youth have a ton more physical (I emphasize physical because though middle class “rich” kids may have the big house and BMW, there are a host of temptations and pressure they face that poor kids don’t) obstacles that rich white kids don’t have? Sure. But I didn’t grow up in those environments, my parents weren’t divorced, and relational morals were held in high esteem. We don't chose our parents.

Secondly, despite the disadvantages kids of single parents, at-risk youth, and other debilitating factors have, this idea of volitional virginity is universal; applicable to all humans in any environment. I don’t care if you grow up in a third-world village where rape and polygamy are promoted, or at the foot of a monastery – if you’re a human, you’re capable of recognizing and acting upon these virtuous principles. This isn’t to make light of severe disadvantages some youth have, it’s just to state that everyone is capable of making a moral decision – as I explain in my post below.

Finally, just because you grew up in a perfect Christian home where mommy and daddy loved each other and took you to church every week, and you were a regular at youth group did your “quiet times” with fervor…well that doesn’t exempt you from downfall (I know of peers and friends that had everything given to them in terms of moral instruction, physical needs, and educational benefit; and they still failed in this area – basically no one is immune to these pressures, regardless of upbringing. It could of, and still can, just as easily been me). On the flip side, I know of kids that came from the worst of the worst family upbringings, and yet managed to emerge from their childhood unscathed. Though I’m not trying to marginalize the vast differences in upbringing and social environments we grow up in – and how those differences are strong factors in determining where our lives go, it does prove that regardless, we ultimately do all make, and are accountable for, our own moral decisions.

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