Supporting teens in tough times
Review by Sue Careless
A Community Affair: Solving the problem of teen pregnancy and disease by Marilyn Bergeron. Wireless Publishing 135 pages, softcover Available for $13 Canadian, 10 U.S. plus $3.00 shipping and handling from CAC, 7 Albert St. Cornwall, ON K6H 4E7, l996
Marilyn Bergeron is an empowerer. She enables young people to master the art of sexual self-control. For the past seven years, she had spoken about sexuality, relations and dating to thousands of teens not only in North and South America but also in Russia.
She is a dynamic motivational speaker but she always focuses on the kids not herself; she talks about their lives and their future. Because she is not selling herself; her message about chastity can easily be adopted by others.
A Community Affair is not intended for teens, although teens are welcome to read it. It is aimed at adults, to convince them that they too can challenge and support young people.
Teen sexual activity impacts all of society in teen pregnancy, teen parenting, and teen abortion. In North America young adults aged 14-22 are the population with the greatest incidence of sexually transmitted diseases. The nearly 40 STDs are costly to treat. Many cause sterility; a few kill.
The emotional toll of early sexual involvement is perhaps even more devastating than the physical consequences. Non-virginal girls are six times more likely to commit suicide than virgins. Trial marriages are often predictors of divorce.
Safer-sex programs, Bergeron believes, “target the consequences instead of the cure’ of teen sexuality. With mixed messages and only mechanical solutions “Our young people are being set up for failure.”
Bergeron, however, does not lay all the blame at the door of contraceptive and comprehensive sex education. The problem is broader and so must be the solution. She would have buses carry chastity posers and communities offer dating and –relating conferences.
Anecdotes and anologes and peppered throughout her text, enlivening and illustrating her agreements. She cuts through an emotional issue with clarity and compression. She is familiar with the facts of the issue and sensitive to the feeling of young people.
Bergeron has designed her book for a North American audience, with current Canadian and American statistics. She has compiled an extensive list of chastity resources. Her book highlights the key ones.
Bergeron is realistic; “We will not reach everyone with this message [but] we must not compromise the majority of teen for those few who probably won’t listen anyway.”
With most teens hear the message? Yes, studies show the rate of teen sexual activity to be declining.