Category Archives: Parenting

Target Without a Bull’s-Eye

November 5, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

My father’s dart board hangs in the garage unused.  A great rainy day game, years ago we could happily pass hours waiting for the sky to clear.  A steak on the grill under the eaves, a football game on a television to the side, and a dart game for the commercials…good memories of good times.

Like all things from the past, it is amazing to see what modern technology has done with a simple game we once played on a 14-inch paper target with plastic red and yellow darts.  The Hot Seller at boasts 5 bright LED lights and comes with both soft tip and steel tip darts.  With 210 variations of 37 games, you will never lack for a partner.  The Halex CricketView Dart Board Package features Cybermatch, letting you play against the computer.

Modern technology has done a lot to update the game of darts.  But one thing hasn’t changed.  At $219.99, complete with computer partners and LED lights, the Halex Dart Board still has the familiar scoring system around the edge funneling in to a small precious bull’s eye at the center.

Bull’s Eye!  This exclamation first evidenced itself in print in 1825, being used to describe much more than the center of a target.  Broadly speaking, “a shot that hits the bull’s eye” is, according to Webster’s, “something that precisely attains a desired end.”  You succeeded because you were focused on “something central or crucial.”

Life is like a good game of darts.  You can set out, throwing darts all day, all week, all year long, and here and there, you will certainly rack up a fair number of points.  But if you want to play the game to win, life works much better when you are aiming for the bull’s eye.

No wonder today’s kids are having such a rough go at the game of life.  Raised in the modern age of relativism, the bull’s eye has been painted off the board, leaving a game with no focus, with nothing “central or crucial.”

A report appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health sheds light on a tragic example of life without a bull’s eye.  The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation studied in detail how California teens ages 12 to 16 interpret abstinence and sexual activity.  Their results will make your eyes pop.

According to the study, 12 percent of the children believed they were abstinent if engaging in sexual (vaginal) intercourse.  For 14 percent of the youth, anal sex was considered abstaining.  More than 44 percent considered genital touching an abstinent behavior, and 33 percent believed oral sex qualified as abstinence.

These teens have done a great job of learning what they have been taught.  On the popular advice column posted by Columbia University, a student asks Alice, “I have a question from my college sexuality class: In what behaviors can one participate and still be sexually abstinent?”

Alice responds, “To some, abstinence is not having any type of sexual experience. To others, it means not having oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Some define abstinence specifically as not allowing penetration or not having vaginal or anal intercourse, but believe that oral sex is acceptable for them to give or get.”

To clarify, Alice offers up concrete examples.  She advises this student that “with a partner” she can try “window shopping”…or “taking a shower.”  Tomorrow the student and her “partner” might enjoy “picnicking in the park”…or they might “cuddle, caress, or stroke each other with fingers, lips, and tongues, with or without clothes on.”  Either this…or that…it’s all abstinence.

And just to make sure there is no confusion, Alice wraps up her 500-word description of sexual abstinence with this guiding light, “It’s important to think about what abstinence means to you, and then to live by that belief (until you choose to change your mind, rather than changing it in the heat of the moment).  [underlining added]

Ask Alice at Columbia University is not an aberration.  She is representative of comprehensive sex education programs.

“In California,” explains Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), “96 percent of schools teach comprehensive sex education, and according to a recent report in the California Journal of Health Promotion, there has been 1.1 million new STD cases reported in Californians ages 15 to 24.  A careful review of the most popular comprehensive sex education curricula reveals that it leaves definitions for abstinence up to the discretion of the individual student.  It is not surprising that teens loosely define the term and end up acquiring an STD as a result.”

Without a bull’s eye to define sexual abstinence, the results of the study by the Pacific Institute are completely understandable.  No bull’s eye.  No need to aim.

The stake in a game of horseshoes, home runs, uprights or darts is points, and it is senseless to play the game without a target to aim for.

The stake in the game of life is…life.  Why be surprised at the tragic results of the game of life if we hand our children a target without a bull’s eye?

Failure Is Assigned to Maine Students

October 22, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

If you’ve read the news, and if you’re not banging your head against the wall, you must be pulling out hairs…or at least scratching the scalp raw.  What were they thinking of?

Wednesday night, October 17, grown adults on the Portland School Committee in Maine voted to extend approval of condoms for junior high students to a wider approval of the full range of birth control options.  School-based health clinics will now be in the business of dispensing birth control to students ages 11 to 13…confidentially…without informing their parents.

This decision shows the muddled thinking of adults who, while loving children, have lost track of the best interests of children.  Richard Verrier, who supported the vote for birth control, told the Associated Press, “it’s not enough to depend on parents to protect their children because there may be students who can’t discuss things with their parents.”

Well, Mr. Verrier, it’s too bad the Portland School Committee failed to act as “caring parents” to “protect their children.”  Any loving parent will know that a child 11 to 13 is not old enough to engage in sexual activity of any kind.  A loving parent protecting their child would take every possible step to teach, counsel, mentor and direct their child away from sexual activity.

Instead, Portland School Committee members acted as rebuffed taxpayers who do not want to spend dollars on rearing babies born to children.  Even when the district provided condoms at their clinics they reported that 17 middle school students had become pregnant in the last four years, seven of them in the 2006-7 school year.

Responding to teen sex as a teen pregnancy issue, their emphasis on birth control tells students that having sex is not the problem.  Having babies is what the adults who “care about them” object to.

One must wonder at the factual information the Committee relied on to make their decision.  Firstly, teen sex is not just a problem when it creates babies.

Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association points out the obvious.  “Whenever an 11-year old is having sex, there is a problem much bigger than whether or not she will become pregnant because a child that young who has the opportunity to have sex – let alone feels she is mature enough to deal with the physical and emotional effects of intercourse – is, in most cases, seeking intimacy and approval because it is void on all other levels in her life.”

This search for love is what leads to teen pregnancy.  Engaging in the lives of teens, demonstrating true affection and love for their welfare, is a costly investment.  But it is what prevents teen pregnancy.  Instead of providing what teens really need, the Committee opted to throw pills and condoms at them.

They will be disappointed.  They will continue to witness teen births.  Given typical use, the overall failure rate for condoms in preventing pregnancy is approximately 15%.  For teens, this failure rate increases to 22%.  When you promote condoms to teens, you are promoting a 22% failure rate.

Likewise, chemical birth control has its own failure rates.  Dr. Patricia Sulak, a leading researcher of birth control, makes it a practice to ask her adult audiences to raise their hands if they or someone they know became pregnant while using the birth control pill.  With regularity, the room is filled with hands waving in the air.

Evaluating contraception failure rates for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), the Committee has now become a key causative factor in this epidemic.  Condoms, despite regular media hype, fail to prevent serious STD infections, including incurable genital herpes.  One in five people over the age of 12 now have genital herpes and carry the virus on body areas not covered by the condom.  Talk about failure!

And if you want to ensure failure, just give a pack of birth control pills or a patch to an eleven-year-old.  Reassured by adults she trusts that she is “protected” against pregnancy, what chance is there that she will also use condoms?  Chemical contraception offers absolutely NO protection against STDs.  Automatic failure!

Committee members will find themselves regretting their actions, even if it takes several years for them to see their error.  Not so for the teens who accept the Committee “solutions” for teen pregnancy.

These teens will begin reaping the “rewards” of failure right away.  They will experience the failures of the solutions promoted by adults who wanted a quick fix at the expense of teens who will be left to deal with the here and now failures of the quick fix.

Contraception will fail to safeguard our children.  And by leading our children to contraception, the Committee has failed our children.  A double dose of failure…and we will all pay the final price.

Happy Teens

August 20, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

Mass Marketing 101 teaches that successful marketing campaigns sell with promises of happiness.  Thus, we end up with hamburgers in the hands of Paris Hilton, scantily clad and writhing seductively in suds washing over the ultimate in cars, a Bentley.

This 2005 television ad had it all…a famous pretty girl, a luxurious car and sex…the ultimate symbols of human happiness.  By all accounts, Carl’s Junior executives were pleased.

This formula is repeated day in and out.  And in modern America, the formula has made its way from adult ad campaigns to those targeting teens…and their younger brothers and sisters.  Playboy bunnies are appliquéd to tops for toddlers, and rhinestones spell out Hey Baby! on the seat of velveteen pants riding low on the hips of ten-year-olds.

Sex sells.  This has become a truism in Mass Marketing 101.  Have a buxom beauty hold a widget while staring seductively through the camera lens, and you’ll sell a million widgets.  If we buy their widget, we will be best friends with the buxom beauty and we will be happy.

Everywhere, sex is connected with happiness.  Entire prime time television series serve up episode after episode where pretty people spend all of their time thinking, talking and doing sex.  And sex educators take their cue.

Paid by Planned Parenthood, educators stand in front of teens and remind them that “sex is natural…when you are ready, we can show you how to do it ‘responsibly’…your parents don’t have to know…after all, sex is your right…you have a right to be happy…and sex is the basic human drive that leads to happiness.”

Consequences?  Well, if you manage to encounter a consequence when your saferrrrrrrrr sex practices fail to “protect you,” Planned Parenthood has a tool kit of remedies.  You can detect your consequences through testing.  You can treat your consequences with drugs.  And you can destroy your consequences with a “surgical procedure.”  After all, you have a right to be happy.

This is the world we have created for our teens…to make them happy.

Wrong!  We are wrong.  We have been wrong for years.  And now a poll by The Associated Press and MTV of 1,280 young people ages 13-24 lays out for adults what our teens really want in order to be happy.

“What makes you happy?”  Teens resoundingly reply, “spending time with family.”  Kristiana St. John, 17, from Queens, New York, says, “They’re my foundation…My mom tells me that even if I do something stupid, she’s still going to love me no matter what.  Just knowing that makes me feel very happy and blessed.”

Money?  Almost no teens responded “money” when asked what makes them happy.

Sex?  In spite of the hard sell by television and the saferrrrrrrrr promises of Planned Parenthood, “being sexually active actually leads to less happiness among 13-17 year olds according to the survey.  If you’re 18 to 24, sex might lead to more happiness in the moment, but not in general.”

Future Goals?  Marriage.  Ninety-two percent of these young people either definitely or probably want to get married.

Religion?  More than half of the young people said they believed in a higher power that has an influence over their happiness…nearly half said religion and spirituality are very important to them.

Reading through extended reports on the survey, the good news is that teens seem to know more about happiness than we give them credit for.  If we wanted to help them move toward happiness,

  • we would affirm the value of religion and its role in their life and decisions,
  • we would help them maintain a “general stress-free feeling” where they were “not worried about anything”,
  • we would teach them skills needed to create successful relationships leading to happy marriages,
  • we would strengthen the bonds between students and their parents, and
  • we would link the deepest desires of young people for education, family, marriage and children into a meaningful life plan.

The best news for parents and adults is that we have educators who have made it their goal to truly help teens reach happiness.  This latest survey and its results confirm what these educators find from their work in the classrooms.

Who are these educators?  Working with many different agencies and programs around the country, they teach and encourage teens to abstain from sex until marriage as a way to eliminate stress and negative consequences from their life.  They build bonds between parents and teens.  They support parental goals by giving teens medically-accurate information.  And they teach life-skills to help in developing healthy relationships today and in building a foundation for healthy marriages and parenting in the future.

These educators are leading the way to happiness for teens.  Yet, they struggle against the “wisdom” of a culture saturated with “sex-will-make-you-happy” messages and promises that, if not “safe,” sex can at least be “saferrrrrrrrrr.”

You can play a part in the effort to support teens in their quest for happiness.  Check out the National Abstinence Education Association at  Review the research and reports that tell the truth about abstinence education.  And watch for action alerts as Congress debates whether students should be able to have abstinence education.

It is time for us to take hold of the messages sold to our teens by the media and by “sex-will-make-you-happy” teachers.  Our teens have told us what they need in order to be happy.  It is time for us to listen.

The Real Problem with Abstinence Education

August 13, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

Opponents of abstinence education have spent the past ten years denouncing these important health education programs.  Their attacks are relentless.

Opponents are not content with allowing abstinence programs to serve students, schools and families that want this education.  They are not content to let abstinence education exist as an alternative to other programs promoting use of birth control as a “saferrrrr sex” message for minors.

Opponents want to kill abstinence education.  Completely. They work tirelessly to strip every penny of funding support for abstinence programs that encourage and support students who make a personal commitment to remain sexually abstinent.

One has to wonder what the real problem with abstinence education is.  Why is it so terrible to teach our youth the importance of remaining sexually abstinent?

Opponents would have us believe that medically accurate information supports encouraging teens to engage in “saferrrrr sex.”  It doesn’t.  Opponents would have us believe that abstinence education doesn’t work.  It does.

These two battles are actually smoke screens.  Diversions.  They hide what we are not supposed to see.  What opponents of abstinence education would like to bury in the sand is their real reason for opposing sexual abstinence education for teens.

Abstinence education is about revealing truths its opponents would rather ignore.  Abstinence education does not suggest that outercourse, petting, or naked showers together are several of many healthy and satisfying options to abstinence that teens can choose from when they “are ready.”

Abstinence education shines a light on the problems inherent in promoting sex as entertainment without rules, seeking gratification for one’s own pleasure without concern for those we impact as a result.  Abstinence educators are not afraid of acknowledging the life in the womb created by the union of egg and sperm.

It restores a line in the sand.  It dares to stand up for true medical accuracy.  It is supported by a growing body of research about the foundational needs of humans.  It embraces the impact of sex on the welfare of a human being in holistic terms, not only just physically, but emotionally, socially, financially and spiritually.

Studies confirm what abstinence teachers around the country see in their classes.  These truths resonate with young people who have not been corrupted by years of liberal dogma.  They know when their hearts are broken and when they have been exploited by someone who professed “love” only to get the sex they were after.

Teens want love, honor, fidelity.  They look to adults, the role models who are in charge of demonstrating higher goals, only to find these “role models” either wallowing in the mud…or more often…confused about the role of sex in their own lives.

American media, entertainment and marketing industries have capitalized on this confusion, exploiting the natural human tendency to want to satisfy our appetites while ignoring the consequences.  We buy their products, and cultural “rules of engagement” allow them to market this message to children just entering kindergarten:

  • Supreme Court justices in 2004, preserved the right of pornographers to use the Internet unrestrained in their promotion of material harmful to children.
  • Girls of the Playboy Mansion, a television “reality” show, builds destructive fantasies of three twenty-something girls sharing the bed with an 81-year-old leering millionaire.
  • Abercrombie and Fitch glamorize teen group sex in wall-size murals greeting our youth and their younger siblings as they enter the store at the mall.
  • College health centers serve as a pass-through to local abortion agencies with little or no mention of adoption.
  • Leaders in the most visible health crisis of the century, when challenged by a physician at an HIV conference, refuse to set sexual abstinence as the expected standard for children at any age.
  • Hollywood adultery is considered a harmless transitional stage between marriages, and this has been adopted by mainstream politicians hoping to lead our country as President.
  • Magazines like Redbook and Seventeen that used to offer wholesome articles now sell promiscuity and risky sex behaviors on every page.

For nearly forty years, we have been “educated” that the problems encountered with sex can be cured by buying a pack of pills and a “medical procedure.”   This education is only possible if we are willing to ignore medically-accurate truths.  This is the very education that opponents of abstinence hope to force on every child in America.

People who oppose abstinence education oppose it for one simple reason. They don’t want their culture to be challenged and reined in by limits to sexual behavior…of any kind …at any age.  And that’s no good reason at all.

Doomed to Fail

July 16, 2007

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

Daddy was a product of his generation, growing up on a large Kansas ranch in the 1930s.  Behind the barn, he smoked his first cigarette at eleven years of age, the initiation of a life-long habit that eventually killed him.

Marlboro Man…Lucky Strike…the sign of “cool”, a cigarette perched on the lips of cowboys and movie stars…kids were naturally born on a path to become smokers, and in 1955, the cigarette could claim 57% per cent of the male population as “users.”

Undaunted by the social acceptance and prevalence of smoking, in the 50s, health workers launched a campaign to begin an education of the public to the dangers of tobacco.  In 7th grade science, I watched movies of smoking machines depositing tar into glass tubes.  And in spite of denials from the tobacco industry, news reports began to link smoking with heart disease and cancer.

Progress was slow.  By 1965, 52% of males were still smokers.  Ten years of advertising for change, and still over half of American men 18 years of age and older continued to smoke.  One might have considered the campaign doomed to failure.

Daddy was evidence of this failure.  In spite of his analytical nature and the mounting evidence against cigarettes, he remained entrenched as a smoker.  His sister died of emphysema…my Dad continued to light up.  My uncle underwent surgery for lip cancer…my Dad continued to smoke…two packs a day.

My sister and I went off to college, non-smokers both of us.  Eventually, my mother gained a concession from Dad.  He would at least move his smoking out-of-doors, onto the back patio.  But elevators, restaurants and offices…those were a different matter.

One night at the dinner table, he recounted the insult of being asked by someone not to smoke in the elevator.  “Can you believe that?” he asked.  “This is a free country.  They don’t have any right to tell me what to do!  If I want to smoke, I’ll smoke.”

The Marlboro Man eventually died of smoking.  So did my dad.  Joe Camel Cool was sent to prison.  The tobacco industry finally caved in to the evidence.  Warnings from the Surgeon General are legislated on every pack of cigarettes.  And Turner Classics have been edited to remove cigarettes from the lips of Bogey and Bacall.

But wouldn’t you know it.  The campaign to rid our country from smoking is doomed to fail.  In 2004, one fifth of the total population, male and female, continued to smoke.  In the prior year, 48% of young adults 18-25 had smoked, and during their lifetime, 69% of them tried this deadly habit.  Failed. We are doomed.

We might as well admit that smoking is a temptation that will entice young people.  We may as well face failure straight in the face and give up.  Let’s not hurt their self-esteem.  We certainly don’t want to make them hide a secret habit.  Since kids are going to smoke anyway, let’s teach them to choose their cigarettes wisely.  Smart smoking…if they are going to ignore our warnings and light up, let’s at least teach them “safe smoking.”

Ridiculous?  Then consider the consistent doom and gloom of “sexperts” who chastise health educators who want the best for our youth and have set their expectations on creating change.

Abstinence education?  Doomed!  Kids are going to have sex anyway.  Give up.  Let’s teach them to enjoy sex.  We don’t want them to hide their sexual encounters.  We don’t want the facts to scare them…let’s let them believe the myth of “safe sex.”

Doom and gloom?  This is the foundation of the push to legitimize sex for teens as an acceptable and “safe” behavior.  They’re going to do “it” anyway.

But are they?  Data from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest that the fear of increasing rates of teenage sexual behavior may be unfounded. For example, teenagers seem to be waiting longer to have intercourse. The percentage of 12th-grade U.S. students who reported having had intercourse declined from 66.7% in 1991 to 60.5% in 2001.

This six percent decrease is all the more incredible when you consider that these teens live in a sex-saturated culture that refuses to deglamorize casual random sex.  It is miraculous when you consider the prevalence of “sexperts” who continue to promise “saferrrrrrrrrr sex” as the follow up to “safe sex” which has been thoroughly discredited by science.

Doomed to fail?  If history is any teacher, the surest way to lead our youth to failure is to teach them they have no other alternative.

Doomed to fail?  If teachers believe teens are doomed to fail and build an educational program founded on failure as an expectation, what choice will our teens have?

Failure as an expectation?  Then we are indeed doomed.