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Ivory Club, in support of sexual purity in teens and young adults, from a Novel about Life in the Parsonage

Why emphasize birth control if more teens are practicing self-control? That's a good question--one that more experts should be asking after the government's latest report on teen sex. Contrary to what groups like Planned Parenthood would have you believe, the percentage of sexually active kids has actually been on the decline for the last 20 years, dropping as much as 18% in teen boys. In the last five years, especially, the numbers have significantly leveled off. Today, 43% of girls and 42% of boys admit to never having had sex. Obviously these kids are more in control of their behavior than society gives them credit for! And parents are largely to thank for that.

Regardless of what schools may teach, sex education--or the lack of it--starts at home. As FRC's Marriage and Religion Institute is demonstrating, a lot depends on what kind of home that is. Like us, the CDC believes there are a lot of protective factors for kids when it comes to early intimacy. "For both girls and boys, the odds of their ever having had sex were significantly smaller if: they lived with both parents when they were aged 14; their mothers had their first birth at age 20 or over; the teenager's mother was a college graduate; and the teenager lived with both of her/his parents."

In promoting purity, the first step is creating the right environment. The second is engaging in the right conversations. Most moms and dads have no idea how much influence they hold over their kids' sexuality. In study after study, children name their parents--not their friends or Hollywood celebrities--as the single biggest factor in their decision-making. The proof is in the polling: teens who look to their parents for direction are half as likely to be sexually active (17% of boys and 22% of girls) than those (40% of boys and 39% of girls) whose parents weren't involved. So if you want your kids to get the message on abstinence, start sending one!

Earlier this year, the Barna Group found that when it comes to teen role models, family still tops the list. Jean-Yves Frappier, a pediatric specialist, said, "People are surprised [that] parents are role models, but I'm not... Mothers think that friends are role models, so that means that the parents kind of quit [discussing sex]. They talk to their teens, and the teens turn them away, so they think there's no use. But that's not the case." The bottom line is that an engaged parent trumps just about every other cultural influence. And although we'd all applaud if society started embracing purity, the reality is, we don't just need more schools to teach abstinence--we need more parents to!

Pursuing holiness is a tall order in this generation. The media is marketing promiscuity at every turn, and couples are waiting longer and longer to get married. Helping our kids fight those temptations requires just as much commitment on our part. That means more prayer, more openness, and more emphasis on grace. As parents, we have to recognize that it's never too late to talk to our kids about God's design for marriage and intimacy.

Pop culture may have started the conversation on sex, but it's up to moms and dads to finish it. For more information on the Marriage and Religion Research Institute, FRC's hub of social science data, look us up at MARRI.frc.org.


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Keep Obama Off 2012 Ballot
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