Adults Drop the Ball

The film industry has done tremendous damage to the morals and health of generations of young people, with productions that are infinitely worse than Grease. So have many other influences and institutions. They come at kids from every dimension of the culture. Few physicians, for example, tell teen girls that abstinence makes more sense than birth control pills. How I wish they would take the time to tell their patients that contraception will not prevent diseases, and condoms often don't either. They should explain why they have so much to lose emotionally and physically by giving themselves intimately to guys who want nothing more than a quick roll in the hay.

Sadly, adults in positions of authority are often unwilling to tell young people the unvarnished truth. Rather, they encourage them to engage in irresponsible and immoral behavior. A case in point: In 2007, a panel discussion was held at Boulder High School in Boulder, Colorado, presented by the University of Colorado. It was a mandatory assembly for the entire student body, during which the subject "STDs: Sex, Teens, and Drugs" was addressed. The various panel members offered outrageous advice to the students on that day. The event was recorded, leaving no doubt about what was said by the participants. What follows is an excerpt from the actual words of Dr. Joel Becker, one of the presenters. He is a psychologist from UCLA, who said:

I'm going to encourage you to have sex, and I'm going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately. [There was applause and cheering from the students.] And why I'm going to take that position is because you're going to do it anyway. . . . I want to encourage you to all have healthy sexual behavior. Now, what is healthy sexual behavior? Well, I don't care if it's with men and men, women and women, men and women, however, whatever combination you would like to put together.21

Becker continued to offer radical fare to impressionable teens straight from the hookup culture. His strongest advice was that they should have lots of "healthy sexual behavior," although he never defined it. He offered no word of caution about devastating diseases, pregnancy, or exploitation of those most vulnerable. Remember that AIDS and thirty other sexually transmitted illnesses plague those who regularly, or even occasionally, have casual intercourse outside of marriage. There was certainly no mention to the students at Boulder High of moral considerations or the beliefs that some of them had been taught at home or at church. That was dismissed with a sneer.

Then Dr. Becker and his colleagues had the temerity to stand there, shrouded in professional authority, endorsing the use of illegal drugs. To repeat, he said, "I'm going to encourage you to use drugs appropriately." What in the name of common sense is an appropriate use of drugs? Becker was seemingly encouraging minors to commit crimes. But did school administrators or law enforcement officers in Boulder object to the comments? Dr. George Garcia, superintendent of Boulder Valley School District, said "Overall, the panel was appropriate."22

In the spring of 2009, I met Daphne White, who had been a sophomore at Boulder High School in 2007. She was in the audience on that day, listening as her Christian beliefs were belittled and contradicted. After four speakers had prattled on about drugs and sex, the students in attendance were given an opportunity to ask questions but were warned not to express their own opinions or make a statement. Daphne alone stood to confront Dr. Becker respectfully. She said,

Hello. It's actually really hard for me to get up and say this, but I feel like I have to. So, I'm extremely offended, just by some of the things you say, and I think it's important to understand even though this is Boulder High School, there are people who . . . have different views, and I think that this discussion has been fairly one-sided. Sorry. But some of the things that offended me were just that I think it's inappropriate to discredit religious views on some of these issues. And I know that, Mr. Becker, you discredited abstinence, and this is something that a lot of people feel very strongly about, and I just want everyone to know that there are two sides to the argument. . . . And also, I noticed that you were taking some of these serious issues to be humorous, and I think that, if anything, kind of encouraging teens to kind of [do] the opposite of what I thought this panel was supposed to be about, encouraging teens to be abstinent. So I would just state that I think that the panelists need to think about what messages they came to send.23

I am very proud of this courageous young lady. Daphne defended modesty, abstinence, and her religious faith with conviction in front of eight hundred of her peers, teachers, and the school administration. She also spoke out against the use of illegal drugs. I have worked with teens for many years, including those in public schools, but I have rarely seen such courage as Daphne demonstrated on that afternoon. Unfortunately, she paid a dear price for standing up for what she believed. She was vilified and humiliated in the days that followed. Students made fun of her, and teachers made her feel foolish. Virtually no one came to her defense except Daphne's mother, Priscilla White, who called the school principal, Bud Jenkins. He reportedly defended the program and gave her no support.

Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly heard about the incident and chastised the school board and administration for the one-sided, liberal agenda of the presentation. I also discussed the situation on Focus on the Family and let my listeners hear a portion of the recordings. Then many in the community became outraged in defense of their school. Amazingly, most parents came down on the side of the school. Some were openly rude to Daphne. At a subsequent board meeting, the room was packed with townspeople, and only four or five parents were there to stand in opposition to the program. When Mrs. White tried to speak, her microphone was cut off so she could not be heard. This is what young people and their parents are often up against when they dare to defend their beliefs, especially in liberal communities such as Boulder. At a time when moral clarity is desperately needed, those who ought to be helping to hold the line are adding to the confusion and the enticements of youth. What chance do immature kids have to make right choices when even adults are urging them to do things that are foolish and dangerous? It is hard enough for them to remain chaste in this hypersexualized culture. It is almost impossible if pastors, teachers, coaches, counselors, nurses, grandparents, aunts, and uncles remain silent. Without them, there will be no stopping evil influences. Alas, "Ol' man river . . . he just keeps rollin' along."

21.Conference on World Affairs panel held at Boulder High School (April 10, 2007), transcript.

22."School Employees Reprimanded for Sex, Teens, Drugs Assembly," Denver News (May 23, 2007).

23.Conference on World Affairs panel (April 10, 2007).

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

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