Answering Teens' Questions about Sex
- Tuesday, March 11, 2003
A college student, whom we will call Ann, was writing a paper on abstinence. She called Dr. Crouse to ask questions about sexuality that she thought many teens wanted answered. Here are some questions and answers from the interview.
Ann: What do you, and the Beverly LaHaye Institute, define as a healthy way for teenagers to express their sexuality?
Crouse: Sexuality must be awakened and the longer it remains dormant the better because those drives are powerful and can become all-consuming. Once awakened, sexuality must be governed - at any age and any marital status. We are not at the mercy of our hormones at any age!
Self-control is necessary in many circumstances (illness, necessary separations such as war, work, family responsibilities, etc) - even for married couples. Parents need to zealously protect their children from losing their innocence too soon. They also need to zealously guide their children toward productive activities and involvements so that they are growing intellectually and socially during their formative years - rather than getting sidelined into premature sexual involvements that short-circuit their potential and produce emotional turmoil.
Teens need to stay very busy in activities - sports, church youth groups, competitions, studying, community service. During their teen years, young people need to be developing social skills, educating their minds, discovering and developing their talents and abilities, and maturing as persons; they do NOT need to be exploring or expressing their sexuality - there is PLENTY of time for that later in appropriate circumstances and environments.
Ann: What do you find the long-term effects, if any, are on students who have been enrolled in abstinence education programs?
Crouse: There are some valid studies by respected groups that indicate strong effectiveness of abstinence education programs. There is absolutely no question that teens do better to wait until marriage for sexual intercourse. Any program that encourages otherwise is harmful to children and teens and damages their well being FOR LIFE. It is reprehensible and unconscionable for adults to recommend sexual activity outside marriage. The data is clear and unequivocal - married couples that remain virgins until marriage are the happiest and best adjusted of all adults - across every category and demographic.
Ann: How can one teach the benefits of waiting until marriage to have sex to non-religious teenagers?
Crouse: Stay with the facts; present the evidence.
Ann: Does ''abstinence only'' alienate gay students (in that it advocates no sex until marriage and they'll never be able to marry)? How do abstinence-only educators address the topic of homosexuality in their teaching?
Crouse: The question assumes that homosexuality is an inherent characteristic. Instead, homosexuality is a choice; one made by someone, I believe, who has been deeply hurt by a relationship (or relationships) gone wrong. Talk to anyone who identifies himself or herself as ''gay'' and you'll find someone ''messed up'' by abuse (either sexual, physical or emotional) and/or rejection. That person turns to someone who offers ''love'' - albeit, counterfeit.
Ann: How did you arrive at your stance on sexual education?
Crouse: Observation of young people through teaching on a college campus and observing numerous young people of my acquaintance navigate the shoals of pre-teen, teen, and twenty-or-thirty-something years.
Ann: I've recently read statistics stating that the number of teenagers saying that they are virgins has increased over the past ten years. Do you attribute this to abstinence-only education, and why/why not?
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