More than the weather gets hot in Tampa, Fla.
A survey of the Hillsborough County school district has revealed nearly half of high school students and one in five middle school students claim to have had sexual intercourse.
And this is surprising news to many Hillsborough parents.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey, compiled in four thick volumes by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, polled more than 5,000 randomly-selected Hillsborough students finding that nearly one-third said they were propositioned to buy, bought or sold drugs while at school. More than 9 percent of male students and nearly 12 percent of female students said they had been forced to have sex.
Reporter Marilyn Brown, in the Dec. 11 edition of the Tampa Tribune, reported on a small PTA meeting of Hillsborough parents and grandparents, who said they didn't know about the survey, but were interested in the results.
Sex educators promised that more information about sex would mean, if not less sex, then "safer sex." The CDC survey reveals the opposite to be true with younger kids having sex and condom use declining with age, dropping from 78 percent usage in eighth grade to 61.4 percent for high school seniors.
Leaving out the emotional and spiritual damage caused by early sexual activity (which is significant), the physical and societal consequences of teen sex are considerable. According to a Heritage Foundation policy paper by Robert E. Rector, sexually transmitted diseases, including incurable viral infections, are now epidemic. While we contemplate a bird flu pandemic, 3 million teenagers contract STDs every year, afflicting about one in four sexually active teens.
Rector writes about research that has shown a correlation between sexual activity among adolescents and the likelihood they will engage in other high-risk behavior, such as tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use. Pediatrics magazine (vol. 87, No. 2 Feb 1, 1991, pp 141-147) reports that sexually active boys aged 12 through 16 are four times more likely to smoke and six times more likely to consume alcohol than those who describe themselves as virgins.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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