Wednesday, January 07, 2009

True Love (Can't) Wait
by: slowfo

Ah....the South...nothin' but country charm, bluegrass, and lots and lots and lots of unprotected, teenage sex. My Yahoo front page today told me that a new report is out and Mississippi is finally #1 for something other than being the fattest state in the union: highest number of teenage babies being born (and please, stop having mental images of what all the fat Mississippi teens are doing with their free time...it's gross). Cheer up though Mississippi...one of the fifty states had to take the prize. And if it wasn't going to be Mississippi, it would be Texas, New Mexico, or Arkansas (Arkansas wasn't mentioned in the article, but come on....it's Arkansas). Although frankly, I was inwardly hoping that Alaska would have been #1 because the comedians and late-night hosts would have been both relentless and hilarious with it.

What I find most interesting about the report is that the states with the highest teenage birth percentages all come from a very familiar band of states also known as "The Bible Belt." So what is going on here besides the obvious? Is it that this strip of states is more ignorant than the rest and doesn't think ahead about either a) using some sort of protection, b) abstinence, or c) the repercussions that having unprotected sex might actually lead to dragging a newborn baby onto the school bus next fall?

I throw out a few more questions for discussion:
1. As some Christians advocate, should the Church just accept that kids are going to have sex and help them use protection to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancies?

2. If Christianity really is more prevalent in the South, then why haven't these same people (who are more theologically conservative and apt to preach abstinence to teens) been able to make more of a difference?


3. Is this more about how Christianity is played out among different races? If you go directly to the report, it shows that Non-Hispanic Whites have a teenage birth rate that is more than 50% less than Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians. Why the difference if the same or similar theology is preached in all churches?


Whatever your conclusion, it looks as though there's a whole lot more going on in the South than just Whistlin' Dixie....then again, maybe Dixie's skillful whistlin' was part of the problem to begin with.

4 comments:

g13 said...

< duck >

Marc said...

Actually, what I'm seeing here is a success of the Christian influence, albeit a small one and a late one. The statistic is "highest number of teenage babies being born." While the fat MS teens are make poor spur of the moment decisions about keeping their clothes on and using protection. They are making good decisions regarding terminating the pregnancies. I'd be interested to see which state has the highest rate of teen pregnancy vs the highest number of teen moms.

The questions you raise are dilemmas that youth workers such as myself and my co-leaders struggle with. Please send out a memo if you find an answer!

Mike Murrow said...

i will just keep this short and to the point. i used to work with Crisis Pregnancy Centers as a speaker. i would go into schools and convince kids not to have sex.

i quit because it doesn't work. let me say it again. Abstinence only does not work.

erin said...

Question 3 is more of a socio-cultural question, and religion only plays a part in culture and also only plays a part in one's decision to have sex before being married. So I think the question is putting too much emphasis on religion and less on other influencial cultural factors. Also, this question implies that whites girls have less sex than those of minority groups (which, of course, isn't true), but other issues play a factor, like birth control and abortion. White girls are more likely to have an abortion (make up 55% of abortions), but in the Bible Belt States, abortion is more looked down on than pregnancy and birth control efforts are not pushed so that may play a part on why there is more pregnancies. Native American (who tend to be more "spiritual" than Christian)
and Hispanic cultures are very anti-birth control. And having a baby in the Black community is not so taboo as it is for the Whites. Unfortunately, we tend to look at teen sex and pregnancies as a religious issue than a cultural issue, so solutions are less likely to be accepted if it's excessively pushed by a religious group.