The Words of the Urban Family

Urban Life Training And Reality Assessment (ULTRA) Teen Choice

Richard Urban
April 27, 2006

ULTRA Teen Choice provides education, peer counseling and clubs for youth that will empower them to be successful in life by choosing abstinence from sex outside of marriage and abstinence from drugs and alcohol. We provide direct services to youth and youth serving organizations as well as training clients to implement the ULTRA Teen Choice program in their own setting. www.ultrateenchoice.org

Sex and the City

A host of risk factors affect youth in Washington, DC. In my capacity as co-founder of the Urban Life Training and Reality Assessment Program, I get to work with middle and high school youth who are exposed to these realities: In Washington DC, 34% of high school students have used alcohol within the last month, 13% are currently smoking and 37 percent report having used marijuana. Nationally, 20% of adolescents have sex before his or her 15th birthday. However, in Washington, DC, 55 percent of 9th grade students report having had sex. By some estimates, one in twenty adults in DC is infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. When news is reported regarding any of the five related risk behaviors of drinking alcohol, smoking, drug use, sexual activity, and violence, then reporters should take the opportunity to educate the public more about the issues underlying juvenile health issues. And since sexual activity is a linked risk behavior, helping teens remain abstinent from sex before marriage should be seen as a prominent health issue. It will improve their health not only regarding not becoming pregnant, but in a host of other ways. The media can help the public to see the link between these related risk behaviors, and also by pointing out the link between the declining two-parent family and these risk behaviors.

It is a fact that youth who are abstaining from sex are also much less likely to smoke, drink alcohol, use drugs, or commit acts of violence. According to Father Facts, edited by Wade Horn, "A study of neighborhoods in Cleveland , Ohio found that the rate of out-of-wedlock births in a neighborhood was the single strongest predictor of six measures of childhood risk including low birth weight rate, infant death rate, teen birth rate, juvenile delinquency rate, and school reading performance. "Teens from single-parent or stepparent homes are more likely to commit a school crime (possess, use or distribute alcohol or drugs; possess a weapon; assault a teacher, administrator or another student) than teens from intact homes."

Abstinence from sex outside of marriage is the best place to start for character education and violence prevention. We must break the negative cycle of outside of marriage births. Nonprofit organizations such as ULTRA Teen Choice are already giving this positive message to youth. And the most encouraging thing is that the youth themselves are becoming peer counselors and helping their younger peers to make the choice to be abstinent.

Father Facts also tells us that "studies reveal that even in high-crime inner-city neighborhoods, well over 90 percent of children from safe, stable, two-parent homes do not become delinquents." When family structure is stabilized, the related youth health issues of drinking, smoking, drug use, sexual activity outside of marriage, and violence will also be greatly reduced. The media needs to be asking a lot more of the "Why" question, and doing all it can to be offering insightful information on helping to promote stable, lasting two parent families.

ULTRA Teen Choice has been successful in educating youth in Washington DC about the importance of sexual abstinence before marriage. Many youth are committing to abstinence until marriage. The media can help by reporting more on this positive trend.

And readers can help by supporting the work of ULTRA Teen Choice. We use classroom media presentations, where youth learn the reality of teens and sex, including the facts about HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and the fact that married couples have the best sex They learn that condoms arenít 100 % "safe" for any disease or pregnancy prevention, and that they do not protect at all against many sexually transmitted diseases. Youth also get to think about what real love is, and how making positive decisions will impact their future family. Interested youth join the ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club, and they become peer counselors, speaking to other youth about the importance of abstinence, and about their personal commitment.

From 2006 to 2007, we will be expanding our work to reach more schools. We are also looking for four young adult interns. If you would like real world experience with a growing non-profit. You can find out more about our work by visiting www.ultrateenchoice.org, or email Richard Urban, the director.

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