There are many factors that have brought on the epidemic we're seeing, not the least of which is the trash that is beamed to teenagers on television, in movies, and from the rock-music industry. Young people today are bombarded by immoral entertainment that models promiscuous behavior and teaches them that "everyone is doing it." The diminishing influence of traditional Christian teaching is also responsible for the changing mores of our kids.
There is another extremely important consideration that has been identified recently by behavioral research. A team of researchers from the Oregon Social Learning Center has found that parental divorce plays a direct role in fostering sexual experimentation among adolescents.
The investigators tracked the behavior of 201 junior high and high school boys who lived in "higher-crime areas." They found that the boys who had sexual intercourse at an early age tended to be those who had experienced two or more "parental transitions" (divorce, remarriage, or repartnering). Only 18 percent of these promiscuous boys came from intact families. By contrast, 57 percent of the virgins came from homes where divorce had not occurred. On average, these abstinent boys had experienced fewer than one parental transition.1
A similar study was conducted on young women by sociologist Lawrence L.Wu of the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He studied 2,441 white women and 1,275 black women, and found that there was a strong correlation between those who bore babies out of wedlock and those who had been through a "change in family structure" when growing up. Wu concluded that the stresses of divorce and/or remarriage on children are directly implicated in out-of-wedlock childbearing.2
In study after study now, we are seeing that divorce, single parenting, and family disruption are unhealthy for children. This is not to criticize those who find themselves in those circumstances, but neither can we continue to deny that intact, two-parent families are the most healthy and contribute directly to a stable society. If that is true (and the evidence for it is overwhelming), then our public policies and governmental agencies should favor and encourage traditional families. Anything that undermines or weakens them, such as confiscatory taxes or governmental intrusion, should be viewed with suspicion. The future of the nation depends, quite literally, on millions of strong, committed, and loving families.
To those who remember the vice president's controversial speech on family values during the election of 1992, we can now say unequivocably, "Dan Quayle was dead right!"
Deborah M. Capaladi, Lynn Crosby, and Mike Stoolmiller, “Predicting the Timing of First Sexual Intercourse for At-Risk Adolescent Males,” Child Development 67 (1996): 344–259.
Lawrence L. Wu, “Effects of Family Instability, Income, and Income Instability on the Risk of a Premarital Birth, American Sociological Review 61 (1996): 386–406.