Teen Sex Rates

By Eric Tooley

A moment at my sixth-grade lunch table had a profound effect on my teen sexual activity.

The guys were talking about kissing girls when I said, “I’ve never kissed a girl.” A classmate looked at me in the eyes and said, “When we get to junior high next year, you’ll never survive.”

I realized I was way behind and not normal.

Soon thereafter I started a quest for my first kiss, then my first sexual activity, and then my first sexual intercourse. My parents were silent. My church only taught me what was wrong.

I just wanted to be normal.

It was too late when I realized that I didn’t have an accurate view of what was normal. It is worse for our online teens today.

As much as we can, we must give teens accurate information about what is normal activity among teenagers. This isn’t necessarily what we believe is right or best. If normal activity isn’t right or best, we must prepare teens to be different.

However, you’ll be surprised at how often that what is right is also normal. A recent CDC study of US high school teens found that

only 41% of high school teens have ever had sex.

Twenty years ago the rate for all high school teens was 53%. This explains why many adults have a bias toward the “everyone is doing it” belief. The majority were “doing it” back in their teen years. Not anymore.

A break down of today’s teen sex rates by each grade shows that only in the 12th grade does the percentage get above 50% and then just barely:

  • 9th grade – 24.1%
  • 10th grade – 35.7%
  • 11th grade – 49.6%
  • 12th grade – 58.1%.

Teach teens what is right. Teach teens what is best. Don’t forget to also teach what is normal.

Ethier, K. A., Kann, L., & McManus, T. (2018, January 5). Sexual Intercourse Among High School Students — 29 States and United States Overall, 2005–2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), 1393-1397.

Are You An Accessory to Abuse?

By Angela Tooley

156.

156 women testified. 156 deeply moving statements each made by a victim of Larry Nassar’s abuse during a week-long sentencing hearing.

The victims have become survivors, and each seeks to heal. Each one was not only abused, but each was betrayed by institutions thought to be places of trust and safety. Each will have to find courage to trust again.

USA Gymnastics will never be the same and for that matter all sports should go through an intense self-examination. Likewise, Michigan State will face painful consequences for protecting their self-interest ahead of their students.

Accusations were ignored because addressing them meant a loss of status to a program. Accusations were dismissed or denied because the predator gave convincing justifications to reassure questioning authorities. Despite what was seen and heard from accusers, no one in authority took action.

Predators exist among us in unassuming ways.  As a predator grooms victims, they also groom their enablers. Predators are manipulators and even a passed background check allows a false sense of security.

Survivor Annie Labrie said in her impact statement, “a pedophile cannot flourish in the way Larry did in an environment that is not conducive to his behavior. He was prolific because surrounding authorities allowed him to be.”

No matter what our role is in a youth’s life – as a teacher, coach, minister, parent or just as a responsible adult we are expected to be vigilant in protecting them.  Our responsibility is to act when danger is present or even suspected.

We protect when we:

  1. Watch
  2. Listen
  3. Act

Remember the adage – Where there’s smoke there’s fire?

If we saw smoke in our house we would never ignore it, thinking that fire wasn’t present. We would look for the source of the smoke.

As smoke fills the house, we would never ignore it thinking that it wasn’t there.

Nor would we sit still and not seek safety or call for help from the fire department.

We would not rationalize, deny or justify our inaction.

No, we would act.

That is trust worthy – and noble.

Levenson, E. (2018, February 5). Larry Nassar apologizes, gets 40 to 125 years for decades of sexual abuse. Retrieved from CNN: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/05/us/larry-nassar-sentence-eaton/index.html

People Are Not For Sale

By Angela Tooley

It was a few years ago when I first heard the term – sex trafficking.

What? People taken and used as sex slaves?  Modern day slavery in a country that outlawed slavery over 150 years ago?

Sadly, this is the horribly true reality.

How did this happen?  What are the conditions that allow such a monster to exist?  Well let’s just start with the Super Bowl. A “market” drives demand for prostitutes every year in each Super Bowl city. For this reason,

January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month.

As I’m learning more it is heart breaking to me that children and adults are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor. It happens through the means of force, abduction, fraud or coercion. It is indeed modern-day slavery as criminals profit from controlling and dehumanizing human beings. This trafficking exists in every corner of our country and throughout the world.

So how does pornography play a part in sex trafficking? The links between pornography and sex trafficking are undeniable.

  • Pornography is used as a “tool” to train young children and women so that they will “know” what to do in performing sex acts.
  • Pornography users often seek to act out what they have viewed in porn.
  • Pimps are operating more and more online as it becomes easier to connect with potential buyers and to remain anonymous. Most social media sites including Facebook and Snapchat as well as classified ad sites like Craigslist and the infamous Backpage have become “virtual brothels” where one can quickly find prostituted women and children to engage in sex acts.
  • As addictions to pornography increase, users seek more and more disturbing and violent material.
  • Porn users do not and cannot distinguish between trafficked women, prostitutes, and porn stars. [1]

All of these things fuel pornography and in turn fuel the global sex trade by driving demand into mainstream society. One should never ever think that viewing pornography is harmless.

Pornography is prostitution on screen.

The onscreen image is a human being, someone who is a daughter or son, a sister or brother. There is no excuse to allow trafficking to exist because

PEOPLE ARE NOT FOR SALE.

[1] The National Center on Sexual Exploitation. (2011, April 19). Talking Points: Porn & Trafficking. Retrieved from Porn Harms Research: http://pornharmsresearch.com/2011/04/trafficking/

Six Things To NEVER Do If Your Child Looks At Porn

If you discover your child is looking at pornography:

  1. DO NOT PANIC

This moment is not about you. Put your feelings (i.e. fear, anger, disappointment, etc.) aside and focus on your child. Show your child that you love, support, understand, and want to help. Unfortunately, porn is common among teens. One study found that 93% of boys and 62% of girls were exposed to pornography before age 18. (1)

  1. DO NOT IGNORE

As an adult, I learned that my parent’s knew I was looking at their pornography. They never mentioned it to me because “boys will be boys.” Oh how I wish they had helped me. I suffered under this addiction for thirty-five years!

  1. DO NOT ASK FOR (OR EXPECT) A CONFESSION

Only 22% of adults confessed when confronted by their spouse even with evidence. (2) Do you think your child or teenager is more likely to confess than these adults?

Instead of asking “Did you …?”, say “I discovered …” in a matter of fact tone. Remember we set aside feelings of fear, anger, and disappointment?

  1. DO NOT INTERROGATE

Avoid asking “why”. Use concrete questions: When did this start? How often have you looked at porn in the last month? How do you access the pornography? What can I do to help you stop?

Then Listen. Validate their feelings even if positive. “I could see how that would be exciting for you.” Validation just means you understand not necessarily agree.

  1. DO NOT MAINTAIN THE STATUS QUO

Your child’s promise to never do it again is not enough. Believe their sincerity but don’t believe in their self-control. Do whatever you can to block your child’s access to porn. You don’t let the alcoholic keep going to the bar.

  1. DO NOT GO IT ALONE

Remember that fear, anger and disappointment you set aside? You need someone to express your feelings. Your child likely needs the same support. Call us (972-342-0753 or 214-415-4555) or email us here at Noble Choices. This is our specialty. We want to help.

(1) Chlara, S., Wolak, J., & Finkelhor, D. (2008). The nature and dynamics of Internet pornography exposure for youth. CyberPsychology and Behavior, 691-693.

(2) Steffens, B., & Means, M. (2010). Your Sexually Addicted Spouse. Far Hills, NJ: New Horizon Press.

Eight Reasons Sexual Harassment is not Reported

By Angela Tooley

I’ve always loved Rosie the Riveter. Rosie represents the empowerment of women in the World War II work force. She is tough and ready to meet the challenge of that time.

Today females are being challenged to find empowerment in another arena – defending themselves from sexual harassment. Harassing behavior exists from bullying to physical violation. Decades ago numerous costly lawsuits changed the workplace and gave young women like myself a voice to speak against such harassment.

I wonder what has changed?

Why does it seem like that females are defenseless against this dehumanizing attack?

  1. Pornography normalizes this behavior by the perpetrator.
  2. Pornography normalizes the acceptance and the conformity of the victims.
  3. Women feel they have to put up with this to advance their careers due to the glass ceiling of unequal pay and/or opportunities as men.
  4. Women want to avoid embarrassment.
  5. Women do not want to jeopardize their reputation.
  6. Women don’t think anyone will believe them.
  7. Women don’t believe it will do any good.
  8. Women, especially young ladies who have grown up with pornography may not have ever realized that they can so no to unwanted advances.

Those who have already come forward have been truly brave. Those who still need to come forward will need support.

For anyone reading this who has been a victim, and for anyone who feels like it is too late to be helped; we pray for you every day. There is help and hope, and we would love to share that with you.

For anyone who has been the perpetrator, there is help and hope for you, too.

The daily revelations of inappropriate sexual behavior have been stunning: entertainers, executives, politicians, journalists, teachers, and clergy. Sadly, I expect the revelations to continue and to eventually hit too close to our homes.

How will you respond?

Men and women, we are all empowered to say NO and to end any acceptance of these kinds of inappropriate behaviors.

Noble Choices stands with you as we:

  • educate about today’s pornography culture
  • empower youth to do the right thing
  • foster safe environments
  • provide recovery resources

This is for all of us.

We can do it!

Pain

By Angela Tooley

Pain – it’s an inescapable part of life, yet we do everything we can to escape it or numb it. There is physical pain in our bodies – temporary or chronic. Then there is pain from our own choices and pain that comes from the choices of others.

The current opioid crisis demonstrates how far we have come in our culture in our inability to deal with pain. This crisis born of misguided notions of pain management with highly addictive forms of synthetic heroin

kills 91 people per day.

Please don’t misunderstand, I’m not unsympathetic to being in pain. I’m not unsympathetic to those who are addicted. I would like us to understand that there is something to be gained from pain. We must be willing to pay attention whether that pain is physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual.

CS Lewis called pain “God’s megaphone.” Pain gets our attention so that we may know God is present. We see this in Job’s suffering, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42:5

Priscilla Shirer describes pain as a mysterious blessing, “it compels us to more accurately assess the wisdom or foolishness of our choices. Pain is ironically the key to being spared even worse discomfort.”

The reality of pain is that it should be confronted. The good news is that we do not have to do this alone. Our pain was never meant to be ours alone. Whether our pain is physical, mental, emotional or spiritual we have help through Christ and through each other.

This is part of our mission at Noble Choices – to come alongside others who need recovery (and we all need it). We lead Celebrate Recovery in Richardson, TX and recommend it if you live in other areas. We offer life coaching and counseling to those struggling with sexual sin in their life or the life of a loved one.

We have had to face our own pain and by God’s grace we are here to help and offer hope. There is always hope!

“we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope”  —  Romans 5:3,4

 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017, August 30). Understanding the Epidemic. Retrieved from Opioid Overdose: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html

Lewis, C. (1940). The Problem of Pain. United Kingdom: The Centenary Press.

Shirer, P. (2017). Awaken. Nashville: B & H Publishing Group.

Be FOMM not FOMO

By Angela Tooley

I hate to admit it, but I have FOMO. Do you have FOMO?  Maybe you’re not familiar with this but it is

Fear

Of

Missing

Out

(and yes it is a word)!

FOMO begins innocently enough, usually with our smart phone but it can be any digital device. The device lets us instantly:

  • check sports scores
  • check Facebook status and likes
  • look at all other social media
  • listen for incoming texts and emails

Our smart phones and mobile devices have become the indispensable organizers of our lives – through communication and calendars; and through every kind of conceivable news, entertainment, calorie counting, exercise, and fantasy football app that is out there. We get addicted – never wanting to be without our mobile device.

Ultimately interacting with our device takes precedence over a conversation with the person right beside us in the car or right in front of us at the dinner table.

What we are really missing out on is each other!

FOMO is now so widespread that it necessitates a public service campaign to get us all to put away our phones at the dinner table.  While I think it is a sad reality, I am encouraged by the opportunities for family growth that can happen by coming to the dinner table – device free.

At any age conversation matters. Sharing the day whether it was how the presentation went, or what was the most fun at preschool.  Laughing at silly pasta shapes and hearing the laments of pop quizzes is meaningful. One day there will be a hard conversation and you’ll be there to listen.

This isn’t just for family dinner, this is for friends, coworkers and everyone we face. Please don’t miss any of the experience, put the phone away.

I am making a conscious effort to be aware of how and when I am using my smart devices. I’m working on a new word for the dictionary, FOMM

Facing

Others

Matters

Most

(not quite as catchy as FOMO but I’ll keep working on it).

I hope you will all do the same and set a great example for your kids too.

Narcissist or Noble

By Angela Tooley

With the recent passing of Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner, I have been reflecting on his multiple legacies.

Media coverage has celebrated him as

  • a champion of the first amendment,
  • a liberator “from the shackles of repressive thinking”
  • a hero with “a sense of social responsibility”
  • being “one of the world’s most influential icons.”

As you might expect I think that is repulsively absurd.

I agree with coverage that accurately describes Hefner as a

“grinning pimp… taking pleasure at the expense of the vulnerable, poor and not-yet-born.” Hefner left a legacy that made “our culture coarser and crueller.”

Unfortunately, there is a more personal legacy. If you know Eric’s story of his pornography struggle then you know that as a young teenager he discovered a stash of porn magazines that belonged to his dad. Eric has shared how this discovery was a huge enticement to seek out more pornography in his youth.

Decades later as Eric and I cleaned out his parents closet I found this same stack of magazines just as Eric had described where he found them.

What I felt that day was pure rage!

  • for what happened to Eric,
  • for how that would go on to hurt our marriage,
  • For how that would hurt me, and
  • for the countless others who likewise suffer from the legacy of what Hefner and others like him created.

Noble Choices exists to create another legacy.

  • We speak the truth about pornography and sexual addiction.
  • We seek to educate all ages about this insidious trap.
  • We minister to those who struggle and those who have been hurt.

We hope and pray that our legacy will be of recovery and prevention from sexual addiction in all its awful forms. If your family, church or school has a need to address then we are ready to help. Please contact us and let us be a resource for you.

“Nothing makes me happier than to hear that my children live in the truth.” 3 John 1:4 (GNT)

Douthat, R. (2017, September 30). Speaking Ill of Hugh Hefner. Retrieved from The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/30/opinion/hugh-hefner.html

Ellis, J. (2017, October 5). Hugh Hefner Was More Than a Playboy, Promoting Equality and Free Speech. Retrieved from Newsweek: http://www.newsweek.com/more-playboy-hugh-hefners-driving-inspiration-676825

 

Eight Factors Common in Childhoods of Sex Addicts

I am a huge baseball fan and the postseason is great. Last year in the 10th inning of the decisive game of the World Series, Chicago Cub Ben Zobrist drove in the winning run.

Was this just about an opportunity? Or was this path set much earlier: the Houston Astros who first drafted him? His high school coach who convinced him to try out? His whiffle ball games with his friends at age 8?

It was the opportunity AND the path.

What about a person struggling with pornography? Is it just about an opportunity? Or is it about a path that had been set many years before? Again, the answer is both.

Patrick Carnes lists eight factors common in families of sex addicts.

  1. Addiction.

This can be alcohol, gambling, nicotine, eating, drugs, sex, or pornography. Often it is a combination.

  1. Secrets.

This “elephant in the living room” is having a huge impact on life but everyone pretends it is not there.

  1. Rigid and authoritarian.

There is only one way to do things. There is no give and take.

  1. Sex-negativity.

Sex is always negative, dirty, bad, sinful, or nasty.

  1. Sexual duplicity.

Parents do not live up to their standards about sex. There are affairs, pornography, sexting, etc.

  1. Little intimacy.

Family members are disengaged. There is little sharing of feelings or vulnerability.

  1. Neglect.

This could be capital N neglect: sexual, physical, emotional abuse or a lack of food, shelter, clothes, or safety. It could be little n neglect: lack of attention, empathy, or love.

  1. Compartmentalization.

People act one way in one situation and something totally different in another. There is an overreaction or under-response to life’s problems.

Are any of these factors present in your home? King Solomon wrote in Proverbs 22:6, “Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Apparently, that is true negatively and positively.

Carnes, P. (2015). Facing the Shadow: Starting Sexual and Relationship Recovery (Third ed.). Carefree, AZ: Gentle Path Press.

Topkin, M. (2009, July 13). Tampa Bay Rays’ Ben Zobrist has taken a surprising path to today’s All-Star Game. Retrieved from Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com/sports/baseball/rays/tampa-bay-rays-ben-zobrist-has-taken-a-surprising-path-to-todays-all-star/1018198

The Noble Wolf

By Angela Tooley

Most of us consider the lion as the noble animal.  We think of these beautiful, stately creatures as the king of the animal kingdom.  So, it seems strange to think of a wolf as noble. “The big bad wolf” comes to mind as in the Three Little Pigs, or Little Red Riding Hood! Well it is true that wolves kill, but we are far less aware of their life-giving function in nature.

Just over twenty years ago, Yellowstone National Park’s efforts to control the overpopulation of deer were failing.  Overpopulation had allowed the deer to graze away almost all vegetation.

After a seventy-year absence, wolves were reintroduced to the park. While they did kill some deer, they radically changed deer behavior. The deer began avoiding the valleys and gorges where they were most easily trapped.  This allowed the regeneration of trees and shrubs. Songbirds returned.  Beavers, otters, muskrats, hawks, weasels, foxes, ravens and bald eagles could return because new forests allowed new habitats to be made. Even bears came to eat the berries off the trees.

Perhaps the most fascinating result – the course of a river changed! Regenerated forest stabilized the banks. There was less erosion and less meandering of the river’s course.  An entire ecosystem and its physical geography were transformed. Because of some wolves.

Are you a wolf? Yes, if you’re a parent, a grandparent, aunt, uncle or godparent. Yes, if you are a teacher, coach, minister or mentor to young people. Obviously, I don’t want you to kill, but I do want you to realize the major impact you have on young people

Like a wolf you will promote the growth of habitat by:

  • Educating youth about healthy sexual values and making wise choices
  • Providing a stable environment at home, in churches, schools, and extracurricular activities

Like the presence of the wolf, your presence can intervene in the lives of your kids and their friends by:

  • Removing threats using filters as well as monitoring all computers and mobile devices
  • Observing their social media habits
  • Protecting from abuse

Like the changed river course, your presence will have an impact for generations to come.

You can do this! Blessings!

Monbiot, G. (2014, February 13). How Wolves Change Rivers. Retrieved from Monbiot.com: http://www.monbiot.com/2014/02/13/how-wolves-change-rivers/