‘Myth of safe sex’ is harming youth, doctor says

Dr. Meg Meeker Courtesy photo

MEDFIELD -- On April 26, Montrose School hosted a presentation by Dr. Meg Meeker, author of the book “Epidemic: How Teen Sex is Killing Our Kids.” A pediatrician with a practice in Michigan, Meeker has taken up the cause of debunking the “myth of safe sex” and makes the bold claim that this false message is actually killing kids. The free event was open to the public and a robust crowd of mostly adults from the Montrose School community, the town of Medfield, surrounding towns, and neighboring parishes attended.

Meeker’s message was frank and full of stark details about the risks of early sexual activity. As a young doctor she served inner-city communities where she met young people riddled with sexually transmitted infections. When she moved to suburban Michigan, she expected to see fewer of such cases. However, what she found was a disturbing increase in the number of young girls and women with abnormal pap smears. After consulting with colleagues, it appeared that a trend of early sexual activity was on the rise all over the country. Doctors were finding alarming rates of sexually transmitted diseases in young people of all socio-economic backgrounds. The statistics Meeker offered are blunt:

Teenagers make up 10 percent of the population but acquire 25 percent of all STDs

Nationwide, gonorrhea rates are highest among girls between the ages of 15-19

This year alone, 2 to 4 million of those infected with STDs will be teenagers

Every day, 8,000 teens will become infected with a new STD

1 out of every 4 sexually active teens is living with an STD at this moment

Teenagers today are five times more likely to have herpes than they were in the 1970s

1 in 5 Americans over the age of 11 has genital herpes

15 to 20 percent of all boys will be infected with the herpes virus by the time they reach 18

40 percent of the 3 million affected with chlamydia each year are teenagers

Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is the leading cause of hospitalization for females between the ages of 15 and 55

As these findings began to emerge, Meeker joined the majority of health experts in touting the merits of “safe sex.” But, a mother herself, she became acutely aware of the correlation between the behavior of teenagers and the images these young people received through advertising and the media.

“Kids were being sold sex,” she said. “We were selling them an ideal of a lifestyle. Kids were responding and physicians like me were mopping up the mess. I wondered why physicians were not speaking out.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finally did speak and asserted that to best combat the growing risk of sexually transmitted diseases, young people should delay the onset of sexual activity and restrict their number of partners to as few as possible. Meeker contends, however, that this message is not disseminated by the media the way other health crises are. In fact, she believes the media is fanning the fire.

“Can you imagine if people gave 11 and 12-year-olds a vaccine for lung cancer and then allowed tobacco companies to sell to kids?” she asked, alluding to the HPV vaccine against some cervical cancers, the mandating of which is being encouraged by Texas Gov. Rick Perry. “I saw this growing chasm between this world and reality.”

However, it was the sight of the most innocent victim that ultimately moved Meeker to take a definitive stand on what adults -- parents, educators, and doctors -- should be telling kids about sex. She told the story of a young married couple who were anxiously awaiting the birth of their first child. The delivery went well, but several hours later the little girl began to develop seizures and appeared to have a brain infection. Tests showed that the baby had holes in her brain caused by herpes-- a virus the mother didn’t even know she carried.

For Meeker the story not only illustrated the dire effects of a sexually transmitted disease, but also its frequency and the lack of information most young people have regarding its traits. In this specific case, the mother had only had one sexual partner, her husband. He, on the other hand, had been sexually active a decade earlier in high school. He knew he carried the herpes virus, but since his wife had never had an outbreak, he assumed he had not passed it on. According to Meeker, 90 percent of people with genital herpes do not know they have it.

Meeker decided it was time to tell the truth about sexually transmitted diseases.

“Kids want answers, and they want the right answers,” she told the crowd at Montrose School. “Most teenagers do not believe they have a choice about sexual activity...We teach boys to abstain from drugs and to have discipline in sports, but we don’t do the same about sex.” She stresses that it is hard to tell which kids will be more susceptible to the pressure to become sexually active. “The good girls do not want to hurt anyone’s feelings.”

Moreover, she states that the health risks of early sexual activity extend far beyond the physical repercussions.

“Kids become kind of dull after becoming sexually active,” she said. “Kids come up to me and say ‘no one has every talked to me about how I would feel after I had sex.’”

“Parent connectedness” is the number one indicator of how a child will respond to the pressures to have sex, according to Meeker. Her message is that mothers and, especially, fathers need to connect with their kids to help them build the confidence to combat the intense pressures they face.

“Kids will do what we want them to do,” she advises, highlighting the necessity for unconditional love when dealing with these matters. “You need to be the conduit through which God comes to your kids.

Nation
Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Nation
Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

World
Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Local
Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Local
Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Local
Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Local
Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Local
Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

Nation
N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

Nation
U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Nation
Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

World
Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

World
Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

World
In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Nation
Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...

Nation
Church plans third-party abuse reporting system, code of conduct

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pledging to "heal and protect with every bit of the strength God provides us," the U.S. bishops' Administrative Committee Sept. 19 ...

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Media reporting Vatican-China agreement could be signed in late September

HONG KONG (CNS) -- The long-awaited Sino-Vatican agreement on the nomination of bishops is expected to be signed in September, reported several media ...

World
Update: Irish singer Bono calls pope 'extraordinary man for extraordinary times'

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Bono, the lead singer of the Irish band U2, said he told Pope Francis that in Ireland "it looks as though the abusers are being ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Advocates decry historically low cap for refugee entry in 2019

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Advocates for refugee admissions into the United States decried what one statement called a historically low cap of 30,000 for fiscal ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Catholic workers say U.S. aid cuts to Palestinians could be disastrous

JERUSALEM (CNS) -- The U.S. budgetary cuts to humanitarian aid institutions helping Palestinians could lead to long-term disastrous consequences, said ...