UFI

Posts Tagged ‘Children’

Common Core: Removing Creativity

In Child Development, Diane Robertson, Education, Families, Government, Research, Schools, The Family, Values on April 30, 2014 at 7:36 am

children at playDiane Robertson

Many parents across the nation are wary, worried, and bemused by the new Common Core standards. An important part of Common Core is the standardized testing. To prepare students for the tests, school administrators are enforcing strict instruction for much of the school day. One such school, the Harley Avenue Primary School in Elwood, N.Y. has cancelled the spring kindergarten play because the school administration feels that 5 and 6 year old kids preforming a play will adversely affect their “college preparedness”.

A letter sent to parents states:

“The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers and problem solvers.”

Really?? Reading and memorizing lines, learning to follow instructions, practicing and rehearsing, as well as preforming and speaking in front of strangers is going to delay 5 and 6 year old children’s reading, writing, and problem solving skills? Perhaps, the administrators are actually worried about how their kindergarteners will perform on the common core tests rather than how well they are preparing these kids for college.

Rob Saxton, deputy superintendent of public instruction in Oregon, and Jada Rupley, state department early learning system director, wrote an op-ed for The Oregonian lamenting the lack of skills Oregon kindergarten students had. They really want children test ready at 5 years old. However, research is teaching us that play and minimal instruction are actually the best ways for young children to learn.

MIT professor Laura Schulz, her graduate student Elizabeth Bonawitz, and their colleagues conducted a study with 4 year old children and a simple toy. One group of kids were shown how to play with the toy and another group of kids were introduced to the toy, but not shown how it worked. The group given the instruction played with the toy exactly as shown. The second group explored the toy and were able to make parts of it work that the first group didn’t even try. This study is significant. Given the opportunity to explore, children learn more and become better problem solvers. Yet Common Core is seeking to remove all forms of creativity from the classroom and have the children sit for hours of instruction.

Removing creativity from the classroom is discouraging reading, writing, and problem solving rather than encouraging it. By making test performance a main focus of education, the government leaders and school administrators, who are pushing Common Core, are dumbing down the children of our nation.

 

Babies Don’t Keep

In Child Development, Families, Grandparents, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on April 29, 2014 at 4:29 pm
dont_keepLiz Mackay
 

It was a typical Monday morning with children to awaken and help prepare for the day, lunches to pack, laundry to oversee, vacuuming to start. As I moved forward to accomplish these needed tasks, my two youngest children kept coming up and petitioning me to play a game with them, or to build a fort with them, or to go outside and play. 

My response was the same for the first several requests, “Honey, I am busy at the moment. When I am done with this work, I will come and play.”

It was then that the last two lines of the poem Song for a Fifth Child came into my head:

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.

I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

I never knew the whole poem as a child. My mother always would say the last two lines whenever there was a baby that needed to be rocked. However, it wasn’t just when a baby needed to be rocked, it was when one of us needed to be snuggled or hugged or kissed better or listened to as our whole world was crashing down around us.

I know that the problems we had as children weren’t life threatening, but my mother always made sure that we knew whatever was so important to us was just as important to her.

When I got to be an older child, I asked her why. Her reply was simple, “‘So quiet down cobwebs, Dust go to sleep. I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.’ You children grow up so fast, and I know there will be a time when you won’t want to tell me everything—that I may not be your first confidante—so I cherish this time that you have as a child and don’t want to miss it. Everything else can wait; it’s not as important as you.”

Again as I listened to my child petition me for my attention, I thought about my mother and the words she would sing. I turned to my children to see what I could help them with; everything else can wait.

So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.

I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

 

Today’s post is written by Liz Mackay and contributed by Seeing the Everyday magazine. For more information, go to seeingtheeveryday.com

The Entitled Generation

In Child Development, Education, Families, father, Grandparents, motherhood, Parenting, The Family, Values on February 19, 2013 at 8:29 am

mom-with-children-working-together

Rachel Allison

I’m visiting my daughter and son-in-law this week in Wisconsin.  During the course of our telephone conversation weeks ago, I asked my daughter what her children needed…new nightgowns or skirts?  They love Nana’s home-sewn flannel nightgowns and “twirly” skirts. I was surprised when she responded, “Mom don’t bring them anything.” She recognized the surprise in my voice, and went on to explain.  She was reading the book “The Entitlement Trap” by Richard and Linda Eyre, and she said that she is determined not to raise her children with an entitlement mentality. Apparently, the giving of non-birthday/Christmas gifts can lend itself to that entitlement thinking that she is so opposed to?

I arrived at the airport empty handed and my sweet grandchildren were still eager to see me.  We have had a great time together these past six days. Watching my daughter mold and teach her four children has been extremely rewarding.  They have family responsibilities and daily household chores.  They go to the chore chart every day and take their respective duties in stride. If they choose not to do their work, another chore is added.  They seemingly take this extra chore in stride also…after all it was their decision to procrastinate.  I have been amazed at their acceptance of both personal responsibility and the consequences of careless attention to that responsibility.

Needless to say, I was intrigued as to how our daughter has instilled this attitude into children so young.  Her three oldest are 7 ½, 6, and 4 ½.

I did a little research on the Eyre’s, and I would like to share an interview I found that explained how they came to understand the need for change in this modern world of child entitlement.  The Eyres have lectured and held conferences on parenting worldwide. They have encountered parents from every ethnicity, creed, and culture, and they have learned that all parents everywhere basically have the same parental aspirations and face the same parenting challenges.  These are questions the Eyre’s are often asked?

“Why won’t my kids put in the effort at school to reach their full potential?”

“Why won’t they pick up their clothes or put away their toys?”

“Why do they sometimes make such obviously bad and foolish choices?”

“Why do they think they need to have everything their friends have?”

“Why is it so hard for me to influence my kids . . . and so easy for their peers to influence them?”

“Why can’t I get them to set some goals and to start feeling responsible for their lives?…Or to work and to follow through on their tasks?”

“Why can’t I get them away from games and gadgets, from cell phones and headphones?”

“Why is it so hard to communicate with my kids?”

“And why is it so hard to teach them responsibility?”

Their interview continues:

“…the interesting thing is that these questions, shared by today’s parents, were not the prime questions of parents one or two generations ago. Yesterday’s kids had a much greater sense of personal responsibility than today’s kids. Think how things have changed: When your grandparents were young, children often worked for their parents; now parents work for their kids. When your parents were children, it took more work to keep a household going than it does now, and kids did a lot of that work. And even when you were a child, there was some sense that kids owed a lot to their parents; now parents seem to think they owe everything to their kids.

Two Parenting Epiphanies: The Problem Of Entitlement And The Solution Of Ownership

Frankly, we were a little slow to see the picture clearly — the picture of what is happening to this generation of kids. We had been writing and speaking to parents about responsibility and values for more than a decade, and then one evening, as we heard those same questions about laziness and messiness and bad choices and lack of motivation for the umpteenth time from another large audience of parents in another large auditorium, we had a parenting epiphany:

We realized that all the questions hinge on the same problem —

and the problem is entitlement.

“Entitlement” is the best name we know for the attitude of children who think they can have, should have, and deserve whatever they want, whatever their friends have — and that they should have it now and not have to earn it or give up anything for it.

And it goes beyond having to behaving. They think they should be able to do whatever they want, whatever their friends do, now, and without a price.

This sense of entitlement contributes mightily to sloppiness, to low incentive, to boredom, to bad choices, to instant gratification, to constant demands for more, and to all kinds of addictions (including the addiction to technology).

Perhaps the biggest problem with entitlement is that under its illusions, there seem to be no real consequences in life and no motivation to work for anything. Someone will always bail you out, get you off the hook, buy you a new one, make excuses for you, give you another chance, pay your debt, and hand you what you ask for.

Entitlement is a double-edged sword (or a double-jawed trap) for kids. On one edge it gives kids all that they don’t need — indulgence, dullness, conceit, and laziness; and on the backswing, it takes from them everything they do need — motivation, independence, inventiveness, pride, responsibility, and a chance to really work for things and to build their own sense of fulfillment and self-esteem.

As we worked with our own children on the problem of entitlement, and as we focused more attention on it in our lectures and seminars on teaching values and responsibility, we had a second parenting epiphany… It was simply that

feelings of entitlement are always connected to a

lack of work and sacrifice and ownership.

When people (adults or kids) don’t work for something, or give up anything for it, they never feel the pride of owning it or the will to care for and develop it. We began to understand that a sense of ownership is the antidote to entitlement, and from that point on, we have been developing methods to help children feel the responsibility of ownership.

There is a gap between being a child and being an adult, a space, a breach, a journey … and how and when it is crossed will make all the difference in your own happiness and in that of your child.

In many parts of the world, particularly the third world, kids are forced to jump the gap too fast or too soon. Because of poverty or the absence of parents, they have to play the role of adults while they are still children, missing out on much of the joy and learning of childhood.

But in most of contemporary society, it is the opposite — children seem never to grow up because parents do everything for them, give everything to them, over-serve and overindulge, allowing them to avoid responsibility, to “move back in,” and to essentially continue to be children.

Modern parents in America and Europe and most other developed countries unwittingly promote the worst of both worlds by giving their children license too early and responsibility too late. They allow their kids to do many things before they are emotionally and socially ready. And yet at the same time, parents (and the society around them) give kids a sense of entitlement that allows them to avoid most of the accountability and ownership that would help them become responsible adults.

It is because of this environment of entitlement that parenting is a bigger challenge now than it has ever been.

We are going to be blunt with you. We are going to answer the question of where this sense of entitlement comes from — and most of the answer is you! We are going to tell you what to stop doing. But we are also going to tell you what to start doing and how to replace your child’s sense of entitlement with a sense of ownership and responsibility. It is not an easy transition, but it can be an enormously enjoyable and worthwhile one that will affect your child’s whole life (not to mention yours!). (Deseret News, September 9, 2011)

My hope is that the Eyre interview has helped you realize that attitudes of entitlement can be corrected.  For those of you desperately searching for help with your children, may I suggest you purchase “The Entitlement Trap,” by Richard and Linda Eyre.  If its suggestions and guidelines will do for your children what it has done for my grandchildren, you and your children will be tremendously rewarded.

 

Reader Poll: “If genetic engineering were to give parents the ability to screen out ‘personality flaws’ in their children, would you take advantage of it?”

In Eugenics, Parenting, Polls on August 24, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Here’s the question we asked UFI readers:

“If genetic engineering were to give parents the ability to screen out ‘personality flaws’ in their children, would you take advantage of it?”

Here’s how readers responded:

0   Percent           Yes

97 Percent           No

3 Percent             Unsure

If given the opportunity, it’s pretty clear that  UFI readers would have no interest in tinkering with their children’s personalities via genetic engineering.  But an Oxford professor thinks that you have a “moral obligation” to do so.  After all, it is only responsible parenting to create “ethically better children,” Professor Julian Savulescu claims.

Through what he calls “rational design” he thinks we could have less violent, more intelligent, more pleasant people – in short, a better society.  Evidently the technology to accomplish this is close at hand.

Professor Savulescu argues that there is no reason why we shouldn’t be willing and indeed, motivated, to create people who are less likely to harm themselves and others.  You can read more about it here.  And then tell us what you think?

Good idea?  Bad idea?  and why.

 

 

Children of Divorce Suffer more Strokes

In Divorce, Families, Marriage, Research on January 10, 2011 at 6:33 am

Unfortunately, the bad news for children of divorce continues to pile up.  This time a new study showing that children whose parents divorce are more than twice (2.2 times) as likely to suffer a stroke at some point during their lives as children who grew up in intact homes.

The study was done by researchers at University of Toronto and was based on 13,000 people living in Canada who had taken part in the 2005 Canadian Health Survey. The association between stroke and being a child of divorce remained even when accounting for traditional stroke risk factors, such as smoking, obesity and diabetes.

The researchers point out that many of the children of divorce who suffered a stroke were born in 1940 or earlier and that the negative stigma of divorce back then might be a contributing factor to the increased risk of stroke.  Also, childhood income was not part of the current data; so more research needs to be done to identify if poverty could be a contributing factor.

Lead researcher, Esme Fuller-Thomson, was quick to point out that her study showed an association between divorce and stroke, not that divorce causes strokes, and findings would be need to be replicated in other studies before more solid conclusions could be drawn.

“More Trick than Treat:” UNICEF Loses Sight of Their Mission

In Abortion, Sanctity of Life, Sex Education, UN on October 25, 2010 at 6:05 pm

It was 60 years ago this month when the United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) began their highly successful “Trick or Treat for UNICEF” campaign.  Several generations of Halloween-costumed children have carried the orange donation boxes door to door to help children in countries around the world receive food, vaccinations, health care, and education.  Yet, few understand that some 25 years ago, UNICEF adopted another vision for their efforts, one that includes carrying the banner for radical feminists, promoting abortion and enticing children to engage in promiscuity and risky sexual behaviors.

Before your children get involved in a school group devoted to UNICEF, or they pick up a donation box for trick or treating, please be aware of the current thrust of UNICEF.

History:  Once a Leading Advocate for Children Now a Major Promoter of Anti-family Positions

- In 1946, UNICEF founded to provide medicine and food to stave off starvation in post-war Europe; very effective in their efforts.

- In 1953, original name–United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund””changed to UN Children’s Fund (original acronym, UNICEF, retained)

- In the 1950′s, UNICEF was a leader in combating epidemics and disease with the distribution of vaccines and penicillin.  They also began to assist women in childbirth and developed a philosophy that embraced maternity.

- The 1960′s brought UNICEF heavily into the education world with 43 percent of their budget devoted to it.

- In 1970′s, branched out into infrastructure and providing a clean water supply

- In 1980′s,  Under the leadership of James Grant, targeted life and death interventions with GOBI (growth monitoring, oral rehydration, breast feeding, immunizations/vaccines)

- 1990s to present: embraces radical feminism and emphasizes “girl-child” and “reproductive and sexual rights.”
For a more thorough review of UNICEF’s history and dealings, see the well-document white paper prepared by Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute:  http://www.c-fam.org/docLib/20080424_Number_3_UNICEF_2003.pdf

Focus on the “Girl-Child:” UNICEF Not Concerned About Boys?

The UNICEF mandate to aid children was best accomplished by assisting women in their role as mothers and UNICEF had a decidedly “maternal” focus.  You can see that reflected in GOBI and especially the focus on breastfeeding.  During the late 1970′s and 80′s, as the feminist movement began to gain strength and moved into the UN system, feminist leaders began to exert influence with the UNICEF Executive Board.  Feminist ideology was not aligned with the notion of mothers remaining in their traditional domestic roles with an exclusive focus on the welfare of their children. UNICEF began to realize that feminism, to the degree it would divert attention from meeting the essential needs of children, was not compatible with the mission of UNICEF.

That gulf was eventually bridged, however, by the notion of the “girl child.”  In the world of “gender” politics that was an acceptable approach””focusing on girls and thus the lifecycle of women and increasing their rights””would allow both factions to rededicate themselves to helping children; but only one half of children.  Programs were devised and monies flowed towards programs directed at girls.  A search of UNICEF’s website for the word “girls” vs. “boys” will give you just a glimpse of that continued lopsided approach.

Abortion and “Reproductive Rights”

Although UNICEF denies supporting abortion, their record shows otherwise.  Here are just a few examples.

- In 2004, they actively opposed a New Zealand proposal that would have required parental consent for underage girls seeking abortion.

- In 2007, UNICEF was a sponsor of a global initiative now called “Women Deliver” calling for worldwide legalized abortion in an effort to promote maternal and child health care.

- Just last year (2009), they lobbied against language in the Dominican Republic’s new constitution that would have protected life “from conception until death” asking legislators to instead liberalize abortion laws.

- UNICEF continues to work closely with UNFPA another UN agency that actively promotes abortion and population control programs.

UNICEF is an opportunistic advocate for the spread of abortion rights.  Their denial of that support and their promotion of abortion is based on semantics and cleverly worded distortion of the facts surrounding their actual activities and expenditures of money.  However, we do want to give credit where credit is due.   This past spring, at Canada’s G-8 maternal health summit, UNICEF called for an end to the rancorous debate over abortion asking all parties to move forward by addressing specifically ways to save the lives of mothers and children in the developing world.

Condoms, Sexual Rights, and Graphic Sexual Materials

When HIV/AIDs became a worldwide health issue, UNICEF became heavily involved with condom distribution and the delivery of sexual information to children–some of it decidedly anti-family and unsavory.
In 2002, United Families International was the first to expose a UNICEF-funded book prepared for Latin America that encourages children to engage in sexual activities with other minors, homosexual sex, and bestiality. The book’s title (Spanish translation) “Theoretic Elements for Working with Mothers and Pregnant Teens” emphasizes that “Reproductive health includes the following components:  Counseling on sexuality, pregnancy, methods of contraception, abortion, infertility, infections and diseases.” An accompanying workbook instructs:

“Situations which you can obtain sexual pleasure:  1. Masturbation 2.  Sexual relations with a partner””whether heterosexual, homosexual or bisexual 3. A sexual response that is directed towards inanimate objects, animals, minors, non-consenting persons.”

Two years earlier another controversial UNCIEF sexual education manual was distributed in El Salvador and they also were a backer of a controversial website for South African youth that uses the name LoveLife.

This past August, UNICEF was one of the sponsors of a “World Conference for Youth” in preparation for the upcoming “International Year of Youth.”  At that event, full sexual rights and freedoms were graphically promoted.  For a full description of the event and the exhibition displays go here.

Focus on “Children’s Rights” Rather Than Children’s Needs
UNICEF’s mission of direct action and service to children in need has shifted towards a stated policy of the promotion of controversial “child rights.” This new direction shifts emphasis away from providing services to children in need and focuses, instead, on programs that advance sexual and reproductive rights for children, displaces parental rights, and pushes child autonomy””we believe to their detriment.

Richard Horton, editor of the British medical journal, The Lancet””hardly a bastion of conservatism””speaking on UNICEF deviation from its original mission stated:

“This rights-based approach to the future of children fits well with the zeitgeist of international development policy. But a preoccupation with rights ignores the fact that children will have no opportunity for development at all unless they survive. The language of rights means little to a child stillborn, an infant dying in pain from pneumonia, or a child desiccated by famine. The most fundamental right of all is the right to survive. Child survival must sit at the core of UNICEF’s advocacy and country work. Currently, and shamefully, it does not…  [UNICEF] has failed to address the essential health needs of children.”

Find Another Way to Donate to Children’s Welfare

The propaganda publicized by UNICEF for this project has deceived many schools and parents into encouraging children to participate in what looks like children helping children.  The truth is, most of these same adults would be horrified to know that their encouragement actually promotes abortion and sexual rights for children through programs that are being fueled by the donations received from children on Halloween.

The original mandate to provide basic health care and education services to the poor children of the world has been diluted by UNICEF and in its place is the destruction of millions of unborn children.  It is a cynical program that uses children to promote sexual promiscuity that negatively impacts children and families.

Conclusion

Caring parents should carefully consider the other options available for their efforts to needy children.  Thankfully there are many humanitarian programs worthy of support and funding as they assist disadvantaged children while promoting family friendly values.  United  Families understands the importance of saving lives while promoting positive behaviors that strengthen families. That is why United Families founded and has championed the “Stay Alive” HIV/AIDS Prevention Education Program for many years which has reached close to a million children in Africa.    Designed to reach children ages 9-14, Stay Alive empowers them to make positive choices before they reach the age of sexual activity. Stay Alive helps children focus on the goal of “living a long, loving life”.  The program teaches that the only sure way to avoid contracting the HIV virus is to avoid sexual contact before marriage, to marry someone who is disease-free, and to stay faithful to that partner throughout their “long, loving life”.

Stay Alive is a worthy alternative to the agenda driven, UNICEF programs we have described.  Your support for it and other UFI programs can teach your children the importance of family and the benefits of constructively helping children around the world.  Click here to donate today!

Pornography Addiction: The New Drug

In Child Development, Education, Families, Media, Pornography on February 19, 2010 at 4:26 pm

As media has become more accessible to us, the $57 billion world wide pornography industry has crept into our homes through TV, magazines and especially the Internet.

Pornography addiction has become an ever increasing problem throughout the world. Over 40 million adults in the US regularly visit pornography sites.

However the largest consumers of Internet pornography are the 12-17 age groups, mostly while doing homework. 90% of teens have viewed pornography online, which illustrates the importance of education for parents and teens on how to tread cautiously online.

Launched this month, the PornHarms website is dedicated to “providing the most accurate peer-reviewed research on the harm from pornography, along with relevant news and opinion.” The idea for the site was created when unable to find accurate research about the troubles of pornography.

“Since the advent of the internet, pornography has flooded homes, businesses, public libraries and even schools. The results have been devastating to the social and family fabric of America,” site creator Patrick Trueman stated.

PornHarms is not the only website fighting against pornography. A non-profit group based in Utah Fight the New Drug has recently launched an international campaign for pornography addiction awareness. They compare pornography addiction to the use of hard drugs such as heroine and crystal meth.

Pornography addiction is an ever growing problem that we all need to be educated about.

THREE Pro-Family Super Bowl Commercials

In Abortion, Child Development, Families, Family Planning, Marriage, Media, Parenting, Uncategorized on February 11, 2010 at 1:35 pm

The Super Bowl commercials are generally known for their slapstick comedy, sexual content and talking animals.  2010 was different because amid all this, there were not one, but three commercials that promoted pro-life and pro-family messages.


Of course there was the Tim Tebow commercial, which was surprisingly tame on the pro-life message so many pro-abortion groups feared.

The ad featured Tebow playfully tackling his mother. NOW President Terri O’Neill said the ad is a “celebration of violence against women.” Mainly because they made such a big fuss before the Super Bowl, they had to find something wrong with the ad.  From an advertising standpoint, Focus on the Family gets an A+. They received millions of dollars of free advertising on what would have been a good, but not controversial commercial.

Google’s ad showed the progress of a relationship from first contact to marriage to having a baby. The love and pro-family overtones while using search results typed into Google was one of the most simple, yet most effective ads shown. The super bowl ad is also ranked number two with the most Internet buzz.

Dove’s commercial celebrates being a man. To be a man you have certain life experiences, but a huge part of that is marriage and having a family. The majority of the commercial was focused on what he does is family related.

The first few seconds of the commercial shows the beginning of the man’s life at conception. However in the UK version of the ad those two seconds are cut out completely. Cutting those seconds changes their definition of the beginning of life.

Abstinence Education in Schools

In Abstinence on May 13, 2009 at 1:56 pm

ufilogoThe world we live in has been sexualized in just about every way. Our children can’t turn on the television without being inundated with racy images and messages. How do children growing up in this environment learn about respecting themselves and others as they contemplate sexual activities? How do they learn what is or isn’t appropriate, and at what age? How can they learn the skills necessary to resist what pop-culture tries to constantly force upon them in terms of sexuality and self-image?

One effective method of arming our children with important information is through Abstinence Education programs at schools. Schools in the U.S. generally begin teaching some type of “maturation” classes in the upper grades of elementary school and then introduce sex education classes in junior high or middle school. This is sometimes followed up with more extensive sex education classes in high school. In many cases, a sex education program is part of the health curriculum. The topics discussed and the methods used to teach are often a concern to many parents and lawmakers. Through Abstinence Education, teens are taught that abstaining from sex is the only way to avoid all physical and emotional risks associated with casual sex. Some Abstinence programs give limited information about contraception and STDs, but they focus on the importance of delaying sexual activity and resisting the pressures of our sexualized society. When teens are given appropriate medical information and taught abstinence they can make decisions that will maintain their sexual health and well-being. Abstinence Education programs empower teens to say “no” and mean it, without being scared of sex.

Funding for Abstinence Education Cut by Obama

Congress first allocated $80 million in grants for Abstinence-only Education programs in 1999. Eligibility for abstinence funding is based on guidelines that limit the introduction of content related to contraception, sexual orientation, etc. The focus of the programs receiving abstinence funding must actually be abstinence – refraining from sex. In 2005 the Bush administration backed the movement with $168 million. Programs throughout the U.S. have been implemented mostly in schools, where children and teens can be given good information at an early age.

Unfortunately, President Obama’s new budget indicates that he will fulfill his campaign promise to cut funding for Abstinence Education. His budget would eliminate most money for Abstinence-only Education and shift it to a different program aimed at teen pregnancy prevention. The new budget allocates nearly $178 million for teen pregnancy prevention, with a portion of that going to “innovative” programs.

The executive director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA) responded to Pres. Obama’s budget cut by saying, “At a time when teens are subjected to an increasingly sexualized culture, it is essential that common-sense legislators from both sides of the aisle reject this extreme attempt to defund the only approach that removes all risk. Members of Congress would be well advised to listen to youth and parents in their districts who overwhelmingly support these valuable programs.”

Abstinence-only vs. Comprehensive Sex Education

There is a fierce debate between supporters of Abstinence-only Education and Comprehensive Sex Education as to which program is most appropriate and really has a significant positive effect on children and teens. Supporters of Abstinence-only say that traditional sex education sends mixed messages and that abstinence is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). An excellent article by the Heritage Foundation outlines important facts about early teen sexuality and the effectiveness of Abstinence Education. For example, studies have shown that sexual activity at an early age has multiple harmful consequences including increased rates of infection with sexually transmitted diseases, increased rates of out-of-wedlock pregnancy and birth, increased rates of single parenthood, decreased marital stability, etc. The article also explains that “there are currently ten evaluations showing that abstinence education is effective in reducing teen sexual activity. Half of these evaluations have been published in peer-reviewed journals.” On the other side of the debate, the ACLU and others claim that Abstinence-only programs are ineffective, medically inaccurate and are there to promote religion. These groups question the validity of studies that repeatedly show how effective Abstinence Education really is.

As parents, school boards, policy makers, etc., grapple with finding the right balance for sex education in schools, some are trying to mix a variety of approaches. Some have implemented “Abstinence Plus” programs that do not focus on the message of true abstinence or refraining from sex until marriage. Unfortunately, the danger with these programs is that in the end, little or no emphasis is placed on encouraging students to abstain from sexual activity. Instead, a significant number of these programs heavily endorse condom use and condone sexual activity among teens, and simply give a mention of abstinence as one choice among many. Nearly all such programs contain material and messages that would be offensive and alarming to the majority of parents.

There is a great need for our teens to receive good information about sexual behavior, and receive it in a way that allows them to make good choices. The cultural norm in societies around the world accepts the fact that teens are sexually active, but with proper information about the positive effects of abstinence, teens will be able to resist society’s pressures. In a 2007 report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 47.8 percent of all U.S. high school students 9th through 12th grade report they have had sexual intercourse. The percentage of high school students who have had sex decreased 16 percent between 1991 and 2007 (54.1 percent to 47.8 percent). Teen pregnancy rates among teens aged 15-19 also decreased 38 percent between 1990 and 2004 according to The National Campaign to Prevent Teen an Unplanned Pregnancy. Abstinence Education can help continue this downward trend to give our children a chance to grow up and mature before engaging in sexual activity.

The Role of Parents and Families

Schools will always struggle to find the right balance when dealing with sex education. There will always be strong voices on each side of the issue trying to persuade us that their side is the right one. Ironically, however, it is not the school that can have the most significant influence on our children’s attitude toward sexual activity. A recent survey by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that parents are more influential than peers, the media, teachers, and sex educators when it comes to a teen’s decisions about whether to have sex. Most parents don’t think their kids listen to what they say, but that is untrue. Parents have a tremendous opportunity if they will be vocal and upfront as they discuss expectations and acceptable actions with their children.

United Families supports Abstinence-only Education to help families as they confront a culture that has become extremely sexualized. Parents have an especially important role as they teach their children important concepts about self-worth and proper sexual health. The debate over funding for Abstinence-only programs continues and it is more important that ever to raise our voices in support of Abstinence Education as President Obama and members of Congress cut funding for this important program. We can make a difference in educating and empowering our youth to make good decisions that will benefit them now and throughout the rest of their lives.

Gender Discrimination Achieved Through Sex-selection Abortions

In Abortion on May 6, 2009 at 7:30 am

ufilogoOne of the most discussed topics over the last 50 years is gender discrimination, formerly known as sexism or chauvinism. Whatever term used, the meaning is the same; one gender or sex is viewed as more valuable than the other.

Throughout most cultures, women have historically been the object of gender discrimination. Feminist groups have pointed out many ways in which women are discriminated against. Some include domestic violence, legal status, wage gap, rape, etc. Rarely is sex-selective abortion discussed, but it should be for many reasons.

The potential has always existed for discrimination through abortions but this issue is not often headline news. Since the mid-1980′s the capacity for discrimination has been greatly increased due to the development of advanced medical technologies, including the use of ultrasound machines that identify the gender of a child before it is born.

For the past 20 years, a world wide holocaust is taking place. Millions of unborn baby girls have been aborted…simply because they are girls. This practice is called sex-selection abortion and is defined by the United Nations as the “intentional killing of unborn females due to the preference for male offspring (also known as “son preference”).”

According to the United States CIA World Fact Book, China and India have the most skewed ratio of male to female new births. For every 100 baby girls born in China and India, about 120-130 baby boys are born. This pattern is alarming because the average ratio in other countries and formerly in both of these nations is much lower, closer to 105 boys for every 100 girls.

Cultural norms in both of these countries and the Chinese government’s mandated birth limit of one child, has the potential to wreak havoc on those countries and the rest of the world.

Sons are preferred for social and financial reasons, and government and norms create incentives for families to value sons, not daughters – the worst kind of gender discrimination. This results in sex-selection abortion as a means to provide a way for couples to ensure that their offspring will be boys. Unintended consequences include huge losses in female population.

In fact, according to a UNICEF report released in December 2006, about 7,000 fewer girls than expected are born daily in India, and about 10 million fewer girls than expected were born in the past 20 years.

China is fast becoming the land of missing women. A 1996 study conducted by a Chinese researcher claimed that 85 percent of aborted fetuses in Zhejiang, a rural county in China, were female. More recent studies conclude that sex-selection abortion of baby girls and female infanticide, the killing of new-born baby girls, are prevalent in every sector of Chinese society, more so in rural China.

The situation in China and India is cause for great concern. Serious ramifications and unintended consequences echo throughout the world. The consequences from sex-selection abortion, female infanticide and the imbalance of male and female ratios include increased rape, sex trafficking and prostitution, crime, societal unrest and obstruction to the development of democracy and prosperity. Ironically, reducing the female population increases female discrimination.

The practice of sex-selection abortion carries with it many complicated issues that involve ethics, morals and fundamental human rights. Although it is most often discussed in the realm of medical ethics, sex-selection can easily be viewed as a breach of human rights. The selective elimination of females in the prenatal state is an infringement of their right to equality and existence.

Arizona Congressmen Trent Franks wrote in The Washington Times, “Regardless of one’s position on abortion, this form of discrimination should horrify every American. The idea of killing a baby simply because she is a girl is reprehensible. Unsurprisingly, a March 2006 Zogby International poll found that 86 percent of Americans supported a prohibition on sex-selection abortion. Indeed, what good are the hard-won liberties of voting and other women’s rights if babies may still be aborted simply for being girls?”

Another concern among population experts is the frequency with which sex-selective abortions are performed and the reason they are executed.

“Designer families” are becoming more and more popular with European and American couples. Using today’s technology to “design” the number, type and sex of their families has geneticists, ethicists, pro-life and pro-family experts alarmed over the potential harm this practice will have on children, families and society as a whole, and especially on women.

United Families International has been watching the progression of sex-selection abortion for several years and has watched in horror as those that fight for the rights of women at the UN and around the world neglect to stop the worst violation against women; one that all NGOs (non-government organizations) can and should passionately rally behind.

Hopefully the “choice” crowd will recognize that this practice is not about the right to have an abortion, it is about a woman’s right to live and be valued as a human being. Being a girl should not be a choice. Being a girl should be a right. Being a girl should be valued.

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