• 54°

AIM is still on target for

many of today’s teens

By JAINE TREADWELL

Features Editor

Jan. 11, 2000 11 PM

Times have changed significantly since today’s parents were growing up.

"Not only has premarital sex become blatant, but it is also encouraged in almost every segment of society," said Terry Watkins, project director of Abstinence in Motion (AIM). "There are tremendous pressures to be sexually active and the causes of teenage sexual activities are profound and extensive. Today’s teen desperately need our help and love."

The AIM Project is helping to provide that needed help and love to Pike County teens through a county-wide abstinence education program cosponsored by Charles Henderson Child Health Center and Edge Regional Medical Center.

The purpose of the abstinence education project is to enable the State to provide abstinence education with appropriate, mentoring, counseling and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity.

Many of the pressures for teen involvement in premarital sex seem right to them, when in reality the consequences are devastating, Watkins said.

"To make an intelligent decision about involvement in premarital sex, teens and parents need to be aware of the specific pressures as well as all the risks inherent in that involvement," she said. "Hunger for intimate relationship is built into each of us. We all want to love and be loved. Sex is merely the physical expression of that intimate love we seek, not the source of it. This is why premature sex will not lead to a mature relationship. Premature sex tries to express something that isn’t there yet.

Watkins said when teens delay physical involvement until its proper time, they allow the relationship to grow and mature. When that relationship has developed into a lifelong marriage commitment, sex can be meaningful, constructive and beneficial to the relationship.

"Until that commitment is sealed, teens need to spend time with each other, finding out what it is that makes the other unique and compatible," Watkins said. "This forms the friendship that lays the foundation for love, which leads to the personal intimacy each seeks."

Often, today’s teens are disenchanted with the institution of marriage because of the alarming rate of divorce. In their attempt to prevent the same experiences of broken homes, teens often choose to co-habitate with their boyfriend and/or girlfriends.

"Their assumption is that living together is a good sample of what marriage life is like and that if a couple gets along well while living together they will have a good and long lasting marriage," Watkins said. "The fallacy is that living together does not equate marriage."

In recent research from Auburn University, Dr. Alfred De Maris found that those who co-habitated prior to their marriage scored significantly lower in both perceived quality of the marital communication and marital satisfaction, Watkins said. These differences were significant for wives in the area of communication and for both spouses in the area of marital satisfaction.

"The AIM Project will continue to teach our young people that the truth is sexual activity should be reserved until marriage to prevent broken hearts and lives," Watkins said.