Today’s teen culture is experiencing a dramatic shift, which seems to be moving toward restraint and responsibility and embracing abstinence and self-respect. Results from a recent survey, conducted by the Alan Guttmacher Institute, indicate that teens are sick of the culture and media, which focus on irresponsible sex and devalue human sexuality.
Practically, these views have translated into a decrease in teen pregnancies in the last 20 years and more teens, male and female of all racial and ethnic groups, abstaining from sex.
The rate of teen pregnancy rose throughout the 1980s, peaking in 1990 at 116.9 per 1,000 girls. In 2000, the rate dropped to 83.6 per 1,000 girls. Survey results also indicate that more than 50 percent of male high school students said they had not engaged in sexual intercourse in 2001, up from 39 percent in less than 10 years.
The survey found that teens were abstaining from sex due to fears of sexually transmitted diseases, welfare reform that no longer provides financial incentives for pregnant teens and aggressive pursuit of child support from young fathers, reported the Washington Times. The abstinence education campaign has also been credited for the decrease of sexual activity.
Teenage girls are also sick of rude references to them in rap music, and want self-respect, reported the newspaper. The survey indicates that teenage boys want the same thing.
In fact, a small pilot program called "Best Men" has been developed to foster this in adolescent boys. It starts in the sixth grade and challenges boys to become "worthy of respect." Best Men is modelled after a successful program for girls, called "Best Friends", which was founded in 1987 by Elayne Bennett.
Both programs promote abstinence from sex, drugs, alcohol and violence, encouraged by peer and parental support, mentoring and classes in physical fitness. When the Best Men were compared with eighth-grade peers in 2002-2003, sexual activity had declined by 20 percent, drug use by 33 percent, alcohol use by 22 percent, reported the Washington Times.