Two pieces of incoming mail following last week’s issue were of

special interest. The first, a statement from the director of an

organization called Free Teens USA, part of the Center for

Relationship Intelligence in Westwood, New Jersey, continued the

debate over the sexual activity of teenagers, referred to in the

February 6 cover story on Mathematica Policy Research.

The second came from a reader of Richard K. Rein’s column on the

possible meaning – or meanings – of the Edward Albee play at McCarter,

"Me, Myself, and I."

First more on the debate over what programs are effective in dealing

with teen sex:

To the Editor: Programs Mislead Teen Couples

I find it ironic that Deborah Jacobs, executive director of the NJ

chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, ("Abstinence-only

policy puts teens at risk," the Star Ledger, January 22) advocates

censoring sex education programs like "The Choice Game" that emphasize

abstinence as the best and most effective choice a teenager can make

to avoid pregnancy, STDs and other consequences. She also applauds

Governor Corzine’s decision to reject $4.5 million in federal funding

for after-school programs in New Jersey that encourage young people

ages 10-14 to delay sexual involvement and to focus on their future

goals.

Ms. Jacobs is a fan of "comprehensive" sex ed programs that promote

the use of condoms and contraceptives, often without an honest

discussion of their limitations. Does she even know that 23 percent of

teen couples who use condoms have a pregnancy within one year (Family

Planning Perspectives, March/April 1999)?

Does she know that sexually active girls in high school are three

times more likely to become depressed and suicidal than girls who

abstain (American Journal of Preventive Medicine 29 (3), October

2005)? Or that sexually active boys also have higher risks for

depression and other risky behaviors including alcohol and drug use?

Advocates of "comprehensive" sex ed claim that they give a balanced

discussion of both abstinence and contraception, but a 2007 review of

"comprehensive" sex ed programs by the U.S. Department of Health found

that all of them had a strong bias towards the promotion of condoms

and contraception with misleading statements about condom

effectiveness, (mis)leading teens to believe condoms are more

effective than they actually are. The curriculum with the most

balanced discussion still discussed condoms and contraception seven

times more than abstinence. This is "balance?"

Teens who abstain from sex are half as likely to drop out of high

school, twice as likely to graduate from college and can expect to

earn $370,000 more in income over their lifetimes.

I think most parents would agree that we want our children to

understand that sex is a wonderful thing to be enjoyed when they are

older and mature enough to take responsibility for all the

consequences in a committed lifelong relationship. But that is a

message that Deborah Jacobs and other like-minded censors don’t want

our young people to hear.

Richard Panzer, Ph.D., Director, Free Teens USA

Taking a Shot At Albee’s Meaning

I look forward to Wednesday and the latest issue of U.S. 1. Aside from

my weekly ritual of circling possibilities in "Preview," I enjoy the

insightful writing along with the colorful layout. But I digress.

Upon reading Richard K. Rein’s attempts to decipher the most recent

work of Edward Albee, I concur. (I don’t know if you saw, "The Goat or

Who is Sylvia?"). During the course of the production I saw, I

realized I would have to view it a second time to get a better

understanding.

Since the remaining shows are sold out, I’ll take a shot based on what

I think I saw once. It appears to me that Tyne Daly represents the

dominant mother who expects things to go her way. "Mother’s"

discussion with Maureen indicates that it would be foolish to cross

Mother in that she (Mother) would not be nice if that were to happen."

I also feel there is a correlation to OTTO, ("I am not a nice

person."). otto, on the other hand appears to be nice and apparently

honorable. Taking your point of one Otto, perhaps it’s a reminder

there is good and bad in all of us and we decide between the two . . .

or we fluctuate back and forth.

It appears to me Mr. Albee suggests that psychiatry is dead with the

body lying next to Mother still fully clothed under the bedspread.

Since Brian Murray remains fully clothed throughout, could it be Albee

sees psychiatry as stuffy, staid and as such doesn’t work?

Contrast the opening scene with that of OTTO and Maureen, who are not

only alive and vibrant, but enjoying themselves. Of course, the

deception/mistaken identity is another issue. In comparison, Mother

and Doctor not really living, they’re surviving. Mother became

impregnated 28 years ago and had to raise the boys with the aid of Mr.

Murray. Hmmm . . . long term therapy doesn’t work?

"Nobody likes me. I don’t understand it. Why doesn’t anybody like me?"

Mr. Murray asks, never getting an answer. Perhaps Mr. Albee views

therapy as unsuccessful, time consuming, and not a good return on the

investment.

Then again, maybe I missed the boat altogether. I guess we’ll never

know for sure.

Greg Dowling, Princeton

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