Part of the change of attitude and behavior comes from college students seeing the consequences and repercussions of recreational sex.
College counselors report that they are seeing a dramatic increase in sex-related problems on campuses. A just-published article in Professional Psychology reveals over three-quarters of clinic directors (77.1 percent) noted increases in “severe psychological problems.”
Over the past decade, counselors report that depression cases doubled, suicidal students tripled and sexual assault cases quadrupled.
Sexually transmitted diseases are rampant in a culture where it is not uncommon for students to have sex with several partners; they call it “concurrency.” About one in four women and about one in five men have HPV. Other STDs, like Herpes, Gonorrhea, and Chlamydia, are also common among students — an estimated two-thirds of STDs occur among those under age 25.
The prevailing message about abortion is that it is a “choice,” but far too many of today’s college women have seen a friend be abandoned by a guy or coerced to have an abortion when he finds out she is pregnant.
Plus, there are some very savvy outreach programs gaining popularity on college campuses. Foremost among them is the Love and Fidelity Network, which currently has chapters on about two dozen high-profile campuses, including Princeton, Harvard, and Notre Dame. This very popular program, with distinguished Princeton professor Robert George in leadership, provides well-attended forums and discussion groups promoting abstinence, sexual integrity, and marriage. The Ruth Institute, headed by Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, provides speakers for campus events and quality research on the benefits of marriage.
In addition, there are some pop cultural changes afoot with pop stars sending countercultural messages. Lady Gaga created a media frenzy recently when she told the press that she was going celibate and suggested that others do the same. Former American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson released a song, “I Don’t Hook Up,” where she declared that she didn’t hook up and she didn’t “come cheap.” On Facebook, there’s a girls’ group called “Bring Dating Back” for girls who want guys to take them out on a real date rather than head straight for a bed.
But arguably, the most influential cultural statement lately among the youngest teens was a few subtle lines in a #1 hit song, “Fifteen.” Taylor Swift, one of the most popular of today’s country music stars, sang poignantly about “realizing bigger dreams” than the high school boyfriend, and about crying with Abigail “who gave everything” to a boy who “changed his mind.” She said in a recent interview, “I wouldn’t be a party girl even if I wasn’t doing this [songwriter and performer]; that’s just not the way I live my life.”
At last, our young people are hearing the truth from some pop stars, and they are getting solid information, including the quality abstinence programs that have been given wider distribution over the past decade. Today’s youth are hearing from multiple sources about the benefits of self-respect, self-restraint, and learning to say “no.” Perhaps a trend is underway after all; we can only hope and continue to challenge the nation’s young people to live up to their highest potential.