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
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
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
Then again, maybe I missed the boat altogether. I guess we’ll never
know for sure.
Greg Dowling, Princeton