Finding Meaning

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Kids Doing Better

By Skip Hellewell

Sometimes you bump into a subject so uplifting you just have to tell about it. This one’s about a sensitive topic—sex. It’s a wonderful thing, sex, but there are a few issues. Adolescents, for example, may be drawn to it before they have matured enough to understand the consequences of their acts. Consider the lesson that noted historians Will and Ariel Durant condensed from their 11-volume world history, applicable to all:

“A youth boiling with hormones will wonder why he should not give full freedom to his sexual desires; and if he is unchecked by custom, morals, or laws, he may ruin his life before he matures sufficiently to understand that sex is a river of fire that must be banked and cooled by a hundred restraints if it is not to consume in chaos the individual and the group.”

Parents, in their wisdom, strongly support this. Over 90 percent of parents, per Gallup poll, hope their children will delay their sexual debut until at least the legal age of consent—18 in California. It’s a decision each child makes for themselves. How are they doing?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) keeps an eye on risky youth behavior.  They’re like the proverbial watchful mom, but for our nation. The CDC has been doing this every two years since 1991. The sexual activity of teens is one of the categories. They collect data, for example, on how many sex partners a teen has before leaving high school. It’s important to the CDC because of the exponential rise in STD risk with more sex partners. Sex is soaring among teens in our porn-laden, hook-up culture, right? No, actually, it isn’t. Back in 1991, 19 percent of teens had four or more sex partners during high school. But this promiscuity dropped to 10 percent in 2017. This nearly one-half reduction suggests kids are getting wiser. (Numbers are rounded.)

How about the percent that make their sexual debut before high school graduation? Same thing. In 1991, it was over half, 54 percent. By 2017, this had declined to 40 percent, a reduction of over one-third. Parsing the data, it appears that roughly half of teens defer their sexual debut until at least the legal age.

What about kids conceiving kids? Pregnancies among teenagers stood at 125 per thousand girls in 1990. By 2010, this had fallen to 57 per thousand—a 54 percent decline. There are several factors, but a big reason is that kids seem to have gotten their feet under them and are making better decisions.

There’s an important message here—it appears the rising generation, on average, is doing better than their parents did. This is a good thing. I see it in my own kids—they are doing better than I recall doing at their age. Those who know give credit to the Beautiful Wife. But it’s happening in other homes too, according to the CDC. Look at the kids to be honored in our rain-cancelled Patriot’s Day Parade. There seems to be a healing force at work that, despite our wanderings, invites us to be better than we are. I was surprised to read about this upward moral trend—it hadn’t been widely reported—and thought you would want to hear the good news too. There’s meaning in that.

Skip fell in love with Laguna on a ‘50s surfing trip. He’s a student of Laguna history and the author of “Loving Laguna: A Local’s Guide to Laguna Beach.” Email: [email protected].


Places to worship (all on Sunday, unless noted):

Baha’i’s of Laguna Beach—contact [email protected] for events and meetings.

Calvary Chapel Seaside, 21540 Wesley Drive (Lang Park Community Center), 10:30 a.m.

Chabad Jewish Center, 30804 S. Coast Hwy, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 10:30 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.

Church by the Sea, 468 Legion St., 9 & 10:45 a.m.

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 682 Park Ave., 10 a.m.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, 635 High Dr., 10 a.m.

ISKCON (Hare Krishna), 285 Legion St., 5 p.m., with 6:45 feast.

Jehovah’s Witnesses, 20912 Laguna Canyon Rd., 1:00 p.m.

Laguna Beach Net-Works, 286 St. Ann’s Dr., 10 a.m.

Laguna Presbyterian, 415 Forest Ave., 8:30 & 10 a.m.

Neighborhood Congregational Church (UCC), 340 St. Ann’s Drive, 10 a.m.

United Methodist Church, 21632 Wesley, 10 a.m.

St. Catherine of Siena (Catholic), 1042 Temple Terrace, 7:30, 9, 11, 1:30 p.m. (Spanish), 5:30 p.m.  There are 8 a.m. masses on other days and Saturday 5:30 p.m. vigils.

St. Francis by the Sea (American Catholic), 430 Park, 9:30 a.m.

St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 428 Park Ave., 8:00 & 10:30 a.m.

Unitarian Universalist, 429 Cypress St., 10:30 a.m.


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