Parents & Teens: Working Together for Abstinence
“Young people are surrounded by messages promoting a ‘hook-up culture’” and “instant gratification.” According to The National Abstinence Clearinghouse’s (NAC) Marketing Director, Alyssa Blankespoor, her group is working to counter that culture.
In 1984, Dr. Allen Unruh and Leslee Unruh founded a pregnancy resource center. As supporters of life and conservative values, they launched the Clearinghouse 13 years later. The group is in the USA and in 100 other nations. It uses a “laugh app,” social media, a newsletter and other tactics to assist parents in helping youth to avoid sex until marriage.
In an e-mail interview with The Stream, Blankespoor said the Unruhs founded NAC “to see more done for pregnancy prevention.” The group puts parents first in teaching kids about sex. Its programs are meant “to empower parents” to combat “a ‘hook-up culture.’”
Along with parents, the Clearinghouse also works with teachers, doctors and pregnancy centers.
Setting the Tone
NAC discusses many issues on social media, like eating disorders, sexting and videogames. Blankespoor said “a holistic prospective is necessary” to help parents teach their kids to live virtuously.
The group uses technology to support wise sexual choices. “Our weekly e-mail update is received by thousands. Countless teens and young adults are encouraged daily by our social media posts and app.”
Blankespoor said abstinence goes against the culture. NAC wants to “create a space” to encourage it. NAC also provides data and research supporting the practice.
Many Americans don’t think abstinence education is a big deal for today’s youth. But Blankespoor says being wise about sex helps kids.
“Abstinence until marriage is the only way to prevent 100 percent of the consequences of sexual activity before marriage.” Examples are pregnancy and diseases like HIV/AIDs. Blankespoor noted that research shows that teens who avoid sex also avoid many bad life outcomes. Among them are “out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, marital instability … and attempted suicide.”
Blankespoor cited data from the Centers for Disease Control. The CDC says over 50 percent of teens have not engaged in sexual activity. NAC wants to encourage this large group.
Proper Abstinence Education
Blankespoor said teaching abstinence is more than saying “avoid sex.” It is important to “provide medically sound information on the risks of premarital sex.” She said that over 20 million Americans are infected with STDs each year. People aged 15-24 account for nearly 50 percent of new cases.
“Sharing this information with adolescents … educates youth about the realities of sexual activity outside of marriage,” Blankespoor said. It also points youth to “the only safe lifestyle.”
Blankespoor criticized the Alfred Kinsey model for sexual practice. Most universities accept Kinsey’s work – too widely, according to NAC. “The Kinsey Philosophy holds that all humans are on one continuum of sexuality and that all sexual practices are acceptable.” Abstinence programs, on the other hand, use “a character education model.” The goal is to foster “positive youth development, strong family life education and personal efficacy.”
Kids & Parents Working Together
Blankespoor says educators worry that teaching about contraception puts young adults at risk.
She noted how social media and TV “distort … the meaning of love;” “The idea of commitment is seemingly nonexistent.”
NAC knows our culture does not mind talking about sexuality. Therefore, Blankespoor said, parents have to broach the subject with their teens. They should be open to the topic. There should not be just one “talk” about sex.
In closing, Blankespoor thinks parents must be “at the forefront” when it comes to learning about sex. If parents want their kids to abstain from sex, they must start talking to them early. They have to make sure they are the “‘go-to’ person” for questions on sex.
To foster partnership and relationships between children and parents, the Clearinghouse will host a Purity Ball in Harrisburg, South Dakota on January 27, 2018. It will also host a Knight to Remember speaker and dance event on January 12. The Purity Ball focuses on fathers and their 12 to 18 year-old daughters. The Knight to Remember is for sons aged 12 to 18 and their mothers.