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[COMMENT: This piece comes from a friend who is on a school board in the South. She sees first hand what is happening.
What are you parents doing out there? Why are you not defending your children? Why are you not getting your children out of public education (which is neither public nor education)? What has to happen for you to wake up to your children being sexual betrayed and trashed by our political, educational, and religious leadership. Where is there a leader who will stand up to protect the children from this scourge of sexual insanity?
Yes, I understand that some people are not able to take their children out of the government control system. But that does not stop such people from making a loud noise about the devastation which is being poured upon the children. Nothing excuses the rampant ignorance and apathy, or saying nothing because you will be unpopular. Get yourself educated about education, get on your knees and pray, and you will find ways to make a difference. If not get your children out, start doing some serious moral and spiritual education at home to help counter the psychological warfare which is being waged on your children. And look for ways down the road to get them out. ASAP. Get on your pastor's case about the almost total failure of the churches to tell people the truth about such matters.
The sexual insanity, of course, is founded on the prior intellectual, moral, and spiritual insanity -- the incapacity of parents and others to be truth-seekers, and the inability of nearly everyone to force an honest discussion of the sexuality (or about any other significant issue) onto the public table. We are a host of cowards, prudes, and ignoramuses -- we will not talk about body parts with our children (never mind that the schools are doing so, brazenly and seductively), we will not tell them about the glorious gift of sexuality which God has designed, the meaning of marriage, our commitment to leave a legacy of healthy and wholeness to future generations, not a legacy of self-centeredness and self-destructiveness.
God has better for us. E. Fox]
Doctors say many kids think oral sex safe; cases up 7% in '05
[COMMENTS IN BRACKETS MADE BY DONNA GARNER]
A 7 percent rise in reported sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area is causing concern among health officials who say many young people who participate in risky behavior think they are avoiding sex.
The combined number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases in the five-county area for 15- to 19-year-olds jumped from 7,176 reported infections in 2004 to about 7,675 last year, according to preliminary figures obtained from Dallas County, four surrounding counties and the state.
Marcene Royster, director of community services at Parkland Health and Hospital System in Dallas, said the level of ignorance among young people about the consequences of sexual activity is astounding.
"Some kids have a different definition of what being sexually active means," Ms. Royster said. "For example, some girls will engage in oral sex and say, 'Well, I'm still a virgin.'
"But they don't realize what comes with that in terms of diseases," she said.
Dr. Laura H. Scalfano, director of adolescent medicine at UT Southwestern Medical Center and Children's Medical Center Dallas, knows that for a fact.
She said she recently treated more than 10 Plano children who said they probably contracted their STDs at "oral sex parties" with their middle school peers.
"Half of all teens are sexually active," Dr. Scalfano said. "That's a pretty scary statistic for any parent."
[COMMENT: What is "virginity"? When you have sexual engagement of any sort with another person, you give to that person something which you should reserve for your spouse. That is a loss of virginity. For both boys and girls, men and women.
Any person who has engaged inappropriately with another needs to ask God for forgiveness, and then spiritually give back to that person what he/she took and take back what he/she gave, so that each can receive back from God their original innocence, and look forward to giving to their spouse all of themselves, not merely what is left over after endless sexual escapades.
The deep devastation comes not from physical disease, but from the profound erosion of personality, the ability to be oneself before other persons -- the kind of selfhood which God offers in salvation. The world cannot even begin to touch the beauty of life given by God. When we fall for the world's "feel-good" nonsense, we lose the joy of life as we scramble for every greater but always elusive good-feelings.
When parents begin to teach their children about the quest for good relationships (as in love of God and of neighbor) rather than the fruitless search for good feelings, things will change. And not before.
Chastity is not an optional matter for God, it is a command. E. Fox
Ms. Royster said teens need more information, but they aren't the only ones.
"I don't think many parents realize that [the rate of STDs] is on the rise as much as it is, so we need to get that word out," she said. "And then we have the situation where some parents don't necessarily know how to talk to their kids about these things."
The latest STD figures show the following trends:
• The 7 percent, one-year increase for teens in Collin, Denton, Rockwall, Tarrant and Dallas counties outpaces the overall growth in the local teen population, which has generally risen about 2 percent annually.
• The one-year upswing in teen gonorrhea and chlamydia cases reported in the Dallas area follows a four-year period that had seen cases of those venereal diseases falling or at least somewhat stabilizing.
• In Texas, people ages 15 to 24 have the most chlamydia and gonorrhea cases and the highest rates of infection, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
• It is not clear whether more sexually active youths are becoming infected or the tests for detecting STDs have simply improved and are more widespread.
Chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are bacterial diseases spread through sexual contact. If untreated, they can lead to a variety of health complications, including infertility, pelvic pain and, in some cases, death.
Experts say teenagers are more vulnerable to STDs for physiological reasons and because they're less likely to use prevention services.
"It's a big deal," said Dr. Janet Realini, a public health physician who works with teens in San Antonio. "If you have an STD, even if you don't have symptoms, it can potentially hurt you, and you can spread it to other people."
But because there often aren't any symptoms tied to these diseases, doctors say it's imperative that young people who have sex get tested annually.
[COMMENT: If that is the best they can say, they have lost the battle already. Any alert and alive child will be looking for something deeper and fuller and richer. They want someone to challenge them to the best, not prattle on about pragmatic consequences. Of course the consequences are there and must be attended to. But if we do not attend to the underlying spiritual swamp, nothing much will change, and we will be having this same idiotic conversation ten years from now -- wringing our hands about the consequences, but doing nothing about changing the real problem. E. Fox]
Ideally, parents should take their children to be tested, but Ms. Royster said there is ignorance or reluctance on the part of some parents to speak to their children about sex.
She noted that Parkland has begun counseling and educating young people through peer advisory groups, as well as working with parents to improve communication with their children about sex.Dr. Scalfano said it's not enough to stress disease prevention alone when counseling adolescents.
"Remember that teenagers don't believe it will happen to them," she said. "It's the same reason they'll get in the car without their seat belt or drive fast. ... If you just tell them they're going to die or be infertile, that's not as effective ... because they don't believe it."
[COMMENT: What they do not believe is that their parents know anything about life. Their parents themselves do not take life seriously, why should they? Their parents themselves can hardly must up an honest Biblical self-discipline, why should they? E. Fox]
She cited a 2004 study that showed a significant drop in the STD rate among high-risk girls when health educators talked to them about self-esteem, the emotional consequences of sex, safe-sex practices and the importance of healthy relationships. [I WONDER WHAT STUDY DR. SCALFANO IS REFERENCING. PLEASE NOTICE THAT NO SPECIFICS ARE GIVEN, AND WE ARE NOT TOLD HOW MANY PARTICIPANTS TOOK PART IN THE STUDY, WHETHER THE STUDY WAS PEER REVIEWED, AND WHETHER THE RESULTS HAVE BEEN REPLICATED IN OTHER STUDIES.]
When she counsels sexually active teens, Dr. Scalfano said, she advises them to use a latex condom or a dental dam (latex that covers female and male genitalia) for any sexual contact. She also encourages them to find other ways to cuddle and be intimate without sex. [TYPICALLY PEOPLE WITH SCALFANO'S PHILOSOPHY TELL TEENS TO PRACTICE MUTUAL MASTURBATION OR TO PRACTICE OUTERCOURSE AS WAYS OF "CUDDLING." BOTH METHODS ARE SEXUALLY AROUSING AND CAN HAVE DANGEROUS OUTCOMES. I WONDER IF SCALFANO EVER TALKS TO SEXUALLY ACTIVE TEENS ABOUT THE FACT THAT IT IS POSSIBLE AND MEDICALLY NECESSARY FOR THEM TO PRACTICE RENEWED VIRGINITY.]
Despite the concerns, national surveys note that more young people are using condoms if they're sexually active.
"I think we still have a long way to go, in terms of encouraging abstinence effectively," Dr. Realini said.
The latest statistics are no surprise to people like ***, 20, a student at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch.
"I think young people still care, but they seem to have so much trust in other people, and they don't take time to get to know them before having sex," Mr. Raven said.
*****, an 18-year-old senior at Plano Senior High School, called the prevalence of sexually transmitted diseases among youths "gross" but expected. "There are a lot of skanky girls in our school."
She said the sense of shame associated with sex in ninth and 10th grades disappeared as the teens got older. Many of her peers' attitudes are too cavalier now, she said.
*******, 17, a student at A. Maceo Smith High School in Dallas, said young people are bombarded by messages that say it's OK to have sex, but consequences aren't ever presented.
"You see it all over the television, you see it over and over again, so that people begin to think that's what you're supposed to do and nothing happens to you," said *******, who said he prefers the Bible's messages about sex within the confines of marriage.
He said he knows his views on sex are probably in the minority among his peers.
"There is a concern among everyone working in this field that the message of safer sex or no sex has been lost on younger people," said Dr. Steve Wilson, clinical director of the sexually transmitted diseases division of Dallas County Health and Human Services. "There seems to be a disconnect between the action of sex and the consequences of sex."
Staff writer Marissa Alanis contributed to this report.
1. Don't engage in sexual activity.
2. Use latex condoms correctly every time you have sex. [IT IS AMAZING TO ME THAT A PEDIATRICIAN WHO WORKS WITH TEENS ON A REGULAR BASIS COULD THINK THAT TEENS WILL USE LATEX CONDOMS CONSISTENTLY AND CORRECTLY EVERY TIME THEY HAVE SEX. THESE SAME TEENS CANNOT EVEN REMEMBER TO BRING A PENCIL AND PAPER TO CLASS MUCH LESS GO THROUGH THE 10 STEPS RECOMENDED FOR CONDOM SAFETY SUCH AS USING WATER AND DISINFECTANT AFTER EACH AND EVERY ACT OF INTERCOURSE. BESIDES, DR. SCALFANO SURELY KNOWS THAT THE 2000 NIH CONDOM WORKSHOP CONCLUDED THAT CONDOMS DO NOT APPEAR TO REDUCE GREATLY THE RISK OF STDs INCLUDING HUMAN PAPILLOMAVIRUS, HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS, CHLAMYDIA, AND SYPHILIS.]
3. Limit the number of partners in your lifetime.
4. Avoid high-risk partners. Those can be people who have had sex with lots of people, been in jail or taken drugs.
5. Practice mutual monogamy.
6. Get tested.
SOURCE: Center for Disease Control and Prevention
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