Kevin Ryan

Why are American students failing? Look at the elephant in the living room: sex

Kevin Ryan
By Kevin Ryan
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January 22, 2014 (MercatorNet) - Over the last three decades, social scientists, educational researchers, and pundits have probed for the reason why educationally the US on the fringe of being a Third World country. In particular, why does the academic achievement of American students begin to fall off during junior high and plummet during the high school years?

The “failure theories” are many: our schools are too big; our schools are too small; our school year is too short; our school day is too long; our teachers are too dumb or too lazy or under paid; our parents don’t care; we don’t give the schools enough money. Critics endlessly opine that our students don’t have enough arts, enough sports; enough science, enough math. They don’t have enough homework; they have too much homework. What is being missed from the analyses is the teenagers’ elephant in the room, their Kim Kardashian at the Sunday school picnic: sex.

In the pre-Big Media era, young people learned about the “birds and the bees” and how to make their way sexually in the world from their parents, the church, their friends, the surrounding culture and schools. However, in the US today, parents, for a range of reasons from overextended single mothers to golf-distracted fathers, are having a limited impact on their children’s sexual education.

Our churches are still there, but fewer and fewer young people are attending. Also, most pulpits speak to the young with diminished authority. Their friends are swimming in the same sexual soup of confusion and misinformation as they. Today the “surrounding culture” is a mix of TV, the Internet, and various “i” devices. The dominant message from these media to young Americans is the modern variant of “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow you die.” Or, more like, eat, drink and, by all means, express yourself sexually early and often.

The dispensers of sexual wisdom

With two key “teachers,” parents and churches, hobbled on the sidelines, the primary influencers are the media and the schools. Our media moguls, free speech warriors all, long ago learned that the best way to attract customers’ eyes in order to sell soap, cars and beer is to show a little skin. As a result, today’s screens are a variable torrent of naked flesh. To learn the exquisite secrets of the female body, boys no longer have to read National Geographic by flashlight under the bedcovers. Galaxies of porn sites are just clicks away.

So, for most American children, this leaves our schools as the institutions best set up to pass on the community’s sexual wisdom. After all, schools have trained “learning specialists.” And they have a captive audience during youth’s formative years. How, then, are our schools doing?

First, the surface symptoms and, then, the results. A casual stroll through the halls of many high schools or a conversation with an experienced teacher will provide myriad indicators of the sexual environment within which we are raising our children. The cafeteria, halls, and locker rooms ricochet with f-bombs and sex-laced taunts. Nuzzling at lockers and fondling in the school’s dark corners is a staple. Girls appear to be competing in a stripper’s fashion show. Boys look like they are trying out for 1930-ish gangster movies.

Meanwhile teachers and administrators drift through the halls like those see-no-evil-hear-no-evil monkeys. However, teachers and students alike are well aware of the sexual bullying, the swopping of electronic porn sights, cell phone cameras flashing in the locker room and quickly sexting around the school,

How sexually active are US students?

Short answer: Plenty active.

  • In 2011, 47 percent of US high school students surveyed reported having had sexual intercourse. A third of that group said they had had sex within the last 3 months. 15 percent had had four or more different partners so far.
  • 750,000 teens become pregnant each year – the vast majority (82  percent) of these pregnancies are unintended. By comparison, the United States’ teen pregnancy rate is over three times that of Germany (19 percent), almost three times which of France (26 percent).and is over four times that of the Netherlands (14 percent).
  • Thirty percent of teens watch porn at least once a week.

Providing a young person with information is the way Americans have been responding to what is clearly a devastating problem of irresponsible sexual behavior. For thirty years or more, schools have been teaching something called “comprehensive sexual education,” a fact-based program that now starts its informational campaign in many states at age five and runs through 12th grade. Promoted vigorously and effectively by Planned Parenthood, the program’s mantra is “safe-sex.” The keys to “safe-sex” are birth control pills and condoms, items which research shows are largely ignored by teens.

A veteran Boston teacher pin pointed the reason for the failure of comprehensive sex education and its “safe sex” campaign.  “Why all this wasted time and graphic demonstrations on how to use condoms. My 10th graders can’t even remember to bring a pencil to class and we expect that in the high heat of lust that they’ll remember how to correctly use a condom!”

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It is nothing short of a masterful grasp of the obvious to say that this current situation is unhealthy for our kids’ futures and harmful to our country’s future. Also, it is difficult enough to run a school, but to try to run a school that is a sexual playground is simply doomed. Nevertheless, in the US we have local control of the schools. If a school board wants Chinese to be taught in the middle school, it happens. If they want to deemphasize football and focus on soccer, it happens. School boards are, of course, political bodies and they typically response to the will of the community. If not, board members are replaced. Still, except for some myopic civil libertarians and aging free love apostles, most adults are stunned when they discover the sexual climate of so many of our junior and senior high schools.

What can be done?

Parents and taxpayers, who pay for public education, can find their voice and again insist on sexual sanity in our schools. A few suggestions:

  • No hugging, no kissing, no fondling, and no holding hands anywhere on school grounds.
  • Establish and enforce a strict language code. Cursing, swearing, calling another a bitch or a “ho” is forbidden anywhere on school grounds. Period!
  • Dress codes should prohibit overly tight, provocative clothes. Where there is enough parental will, school uniforms are an excellent solution.
  • Review the school’s sex education curriculum to ensure that it offers an intelligent and ennobling vision of sex, one that appeals to students’ best moral selves. For example: “Sex is most meaningful and fulfilling when it’s part of something bigger—a continuing, serious relationship between two human beings. You know. Like a marriage.”
  • Teach the straight facts about condoms: They allow a false sense of safety. They reduce but don’t eliminate the risk of pregnancy and STD.
  • From junior high forward, sex education classes should be single sex.
  • Pornography on one’s cell phone or tablet or computer means immediate dismissal.
  • Provocative displays of one’s gender or sexuality, whether hetero, homo, bi, or trans, won’t be tolerated and will, also, lead to dismissal.
  • Teachers’ sexual views and private lives are to be just that: private. On the other hand, all educators are expected to enforce school rules and promote abstinence.
  • Finally, the school community, through dances, proms, drama and music productions and sports, should foster and promote a healthy and protected environment for young people to grow in understanding of human sexuality, but grow slowly.

While transforming the behavior of teenaged students may appear to many as an impossible task, those who have service in our military will disagree. Military boot camps are designed to modify the behavior of teenagers and our services have a long and distinguished history of transforming self-indulgent and disorganized teenagers into productive, disciplined human beings.

However, Marine drill sergeants aren’t required in schools. Rather, schools need teachers and administrators with a clear awareness of their authority and the conviction that the community is supporting them. Key, too, is the educators’ realization that these changes will improve not only life in their classrooms, but the academic performance of their students. While the idea of a kinder, gentler boot camp may offend the sensibilities of some, take a hard look at what we have now.

Reprinted with permission form MercatorNet

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Federal court says NY allowed to ban ‘Choose Life’ plates as ‘patently offensive’

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By Ben Johnson

ALBANY, NY, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The pro-life message can be classified as “patently offensive,” a federal appeals court ruled last week. The new opinion came as a three-judge panel ruled that New York state was right to reject a “Choose Life” license plate on the grounds that it may grate on New Yorkers' political sensibilities.

The judges split on whether New York could deny a pro-adoption group the right to have its own license plate, although the state has in the past allowed plates endorsing political causes associated with the liberal viewpoint, such as environmentalism.

Judge Rosemary Pooler, who was appointed by President Clinton, wrote that the state's denial did not harm anyone's right to freedom of expression, because drivers “may display a ‘Choose Life’ bumper sticker — or even cover every available square inch of their vehicle with such stickers. That message will resonate just as loudly as if vehicle displayed a ‘Choose Life’ license plate.”

Judge Debra Ann Livingston, a President George W. Bush appointee, wrote in her dissent that “a proposed custom plate depicting a sun and two smiling children, and bearing the words, ‘Choose Life’ [thought] to be ‘patently offensive’” was “surprising.”

“Pro-adoption organizations should have the same speech rights as any other organization. While the district court affirmed this basic freedom, the circuit court denied free speech in favor of government censorship,” said Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel at ADF. “The state doesn’t have the authority to target The Children First Foundation specialty plates for censorship based on its life-affirming viewpoint.”

The ruling is the lastest round in a legal battle that has raged for more than a decade and, pro-lifers say, seen state officials repeatedly suppress their First Amendment rights.

The Children First Foundation applied for the specialty license plate in 2002, but state officials say the message and design was “too controversial.” In 2004, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on CFF's behalf.

New York's Department of Motor Vehicles repeatedly denied the “Choose Life” license plates on the grounds that the message was “patently offensive.”

The same appeals court rejected an effort to suppress the plates made by then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and agreed that Albany officials denied the plates based on viewpoint discrimination.

In 2006, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals noted that CFF “specifically alleges that defendants denied the picture-plate application ‘based on their disagreement with [the] life-affirming viewpoint expressed on the plate.’”

“On a motion to dismiss, we must accept this allegation, and all reasonable inferences drawn from it, as true,” the judges ruled.

Spitzer, a Democrat who strongly supported abortion-on-demand and gay “marriage,” served as governor beginning in 2007 but resigned his office in the midst of a prostitution scandal only 15 months later.

In November 2011, a federal court ruled that “New York has run afoul of the First Amendment by giving the Commissioner unbridled discretion to engage in viewpoint discrimination.”

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Yet the case has dragged on through the appeals process.

“The state has wrongly gotten away with speech discrimination against our client for more than 10 years,” Tedesco said after last week's ruling.

He said ADF is considering its next legal move.

As of this writing, “Choose Life” license plates are available in 25 states and the District of Columbia.

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Michael Coren stands outside St. James Anglican Cathedral as he prepares to be received into the Anglican Communion on April 19, 2015. Anglican Diocese of Toronto / Facebook
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‘Official’ Catholic newspaper defends running pro-abortion piece by Michael Coren

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By Pete Baklinski
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MUENSTER, Saskatchewan, May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- The Prairie Messenger, described as the "official Catholic newspaper for western Canada," is defending the publication of a piece last week in which ex-Catholic author Michael Coren openly advocates for abortion in the case of rape while saying the notion of “criminalizing abortion” is “repugnant.”

In his piece titled "Seamless garment," Coren — who recently left the Catholic Church to join the Anglican Communion over Catholic teaching on homosexuality — writes that the 10-year-old Paraguayan girl who seized international headlines after becoming pregnant by rape should be legally allowed to abort her baby.

“A terrified little girl victimized by those around her and forced by a government to give birth to the child of her rapist? That is not justice, that is not life, that is not right. God must be weeping,” he writes.

Criminalizing abortion, Coren writes, would “give state legitimization and authority to a minority view and what is to a very large extent a particular religious teaching.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church takes a different position, however. In paragraph 2273, it states that “as a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights." Catholic teaching holds that every human life is sacred since it comes from God. There is no exception for rape. 

For many years, Coren was one of the most prominently pro-life broadcasters in Canada. Calling himself a “journalist for life,” he wrote a column for The Interim, Canada’s life and family newspaper, and was a frequent paid speaker at pro-life events. The Prairie Messenger column appears to be the first time that he has publicly renounced his pro-life position.

Prairie Messenger: “We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white."

Rebecca Kiessling, founder of Save The 1, told LifeSiteNews that she was disgusted to see an article in a Catholic newspaper that supports abortion. Kiessling, who was conceived by rape, is a public advocate for those targeted for abortion because they were conceived in rape.

“We are also told in Deuteronomy not to punish a child for the sins of the father and we are not to shed innocent blood. Doing so goes against every concept of justice. I did not deserve the death penalty for the crimes of my biological father. There is a misplaced compassion when anyone wants to kill the innocent child. Punish rapists, not babies,” she said.

Monica Kelsey, who was also conceived in rape, told LifeSiteNews that she was “deeply saddened to hear about Christians standing for the killing of an innocent child.”

“We all agree that this is a situation that deeply saddens us all, but killing this young woman’s child is not going to unrape her. It will further victimize her and, in the process, kill an innocent child.”

“As a child conceived through a brutal attack and rape where my birth mother almost died, I am deeply saddened that Mr. Coren is making an exception for this precious child's life, simply because his father is a rapist. God can get this 10-year-old child through this tough time, but why compound the issue with an abortion? This girl needs us to walk beside her, loving her and helping her make an adoption or parenting plan,” she said.

"This is a life, this is justice for this child. Saving this pre-born child's life is the right thing to do,” she added.

Dolores Castellanos, the doctor who is monitoring the 10-year-old girl in Paraguay, has confirmed that the pregnancy is developing without affecting the health of the infant or the little girl. Nevertheless, the international abortion lobby has latched onto the case as an opportunity to force the small South American country to change its pro-life constitution which currently protects life from the moment of conception.

Prairie Messenger is a weekly Catholic newspaper published by the Benedictine monastic community at St. Peter’s Abbey in Muenster, Saskatchewan. The Diocese of Saskatoon, the Archdiocese of Saint Boniface, and the Archdiocese of Regina are among those that promote the newspaper.

When LifeSiteNews asked Prairie Messenger News Editor Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB, why it ran a piece from an ex-Catholic who advocates for positions at extreme odds with clear Catholic teaching, spokesperson Maureen Weber responded: “Because we have much to gain by listening to the voices of others.”

“To carry only Catholic columnists who repeat the catechism would mean never hearing and acknowledging the voices of those who are living the hard realities of life on the peripheries, as Pope Francis puts it. Other columnists present other viewpoints that reflect these difficult life issues. Our readers can address these issues when they are presented and, as thinking adults, they need to do more than repeat rote answers.”

Weber said that the editors of Prairie Messenger “refuse to see abortion as a single issue, but rather, as a seamless garment of protection for all of life, both the unborn and the born, support for women, for work toward alleviating the poverty that leads so many women to make desperate decisions, restorative justice rather than harsh sentences with no possibility of rehabilitation, defence policies, health care, policies on the disabled, the aged, euthanasia and assisted suicide.”

“We live in a diverse society where the challenges of daily living cause people to be confronted with difficult circumstances in a world where nothing is black and white,” she said.

Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized in 2013 those who champion the Church’s moral vision as a “seamless garment” while ignoring actual occasions of real injustice.

“The ‘seamless garment’ image was used to great effect to root the Church’s response to various moral issues — from nuclear proliferation to poverty — within the overarching teaching on the sanctity of human life, from natural conception to natural death,” he said.

“Unfortunately, however, it is also true that the image of the ‘seamless garment’ has been used by some theologians and Catholic politicians, in an intellectually dishonest manner, to allow or at least to justify turning a blind eye to instances of abortion, contraception, or public funding for embryonic stem cell research, as long as these were simultaneously accompanied by opposition to the death penalty or promotion of economic development for the poor - issues which are also part of the fabric of Catholic moral teaching,” he said.

The Prairie Messenger, which acts as the newspaper for a number of dioceses in Western Canada, has faced criticism in the past for opposing Catholic teaching.

In a July 2004 Catholic Insight article titled “A flawed stewardship,” Joe Campbell of Saskatoon, SK, called the Prairie Messenger’s editorial stance “disappointing” for taking what he called a “cafeteria approach to teachings on faith and morals, accepting some while rejecting others.”

Campbell criticized then-editor Rev. Andrew Britz, OSB, for failing to support Church teachings on issues such as the male priesthood, contraception, fornication, and homosexuality.

“Not only has Fr. Britz failed to support certain teachings, but he has repeatedly challenged them. He has managed this in three ways: through his editorials; through regular columnists he has retained; and through unbalanced coverage of certain events and issues,” he wrote at that time.

Jim Hughes, national president of Campaign Life Coalition, told LifeSiteNews that a Catholic publication should publish what the Catholic Church teaches.

“Why they would allow this to be published is certainly beyond me. I think it behooves a Catholic publication to stand-up for what the Church actually teaches. Without some counter argument in defense of Church teaching right along side this piece, I think it's wrong to run something like that,” he said.

Contact info for respectful communcations:

Diocese of Saskatoon (home of Prairie Messenger) 
Bishop Donald Bolen
Ph: 306-659-5824 ext. 824
Email: [email protected]

Prairie Messenger 
Rev. Peter Novecosky, OSB
Ph: 306-682-1772
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Saint Boniface
Most Rev. Albert LeGatt, DTh
Ph: 204-237-9858
Email: [email protected]

Archdiocese of Regina
Archbishop Daniel Bohan
Ph: (306) 352-1651
Director of Communications
Bobbi Yanko - ext 230
Email: [email protected]

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Dutch bishops’ aid group funding Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes

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By Lisa Bourne

May 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Cordaid, the Dutch arm of the Vatican’s charitable umbrella Caritas Internationalis, is openly promoting contraception and says access to birth control is vital for the good of women in developing countries. The group has also given money to leading international abortion providers Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International.

Cordaid defended itself when questioned by LifeSiteNews. Calling itself a “proud member” of Caritas Internationalis, a representative said that “access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

A new report by the Lepanto Institute details evidence of numerous violations of Church teaching from Cordaid's own website.

In 2012 Cordaid started a program called “Making sexual and reproductive health services work for the next generation” in Burundi, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cordaid: “Access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies.”

“There is a clear need for sex education and contraception in the African Great Lakes region,” Cordaid wrote of the program. “Its aim is to provide a better future for young generations, reduce childbirth mortality among women through more effective family planning and alleviate poverty among families.”

It began another contraception program the following year in Burundi, Congo, and Rwanda. A Cordaid program distributed condoms in the Congo in 2012, and another worked to provide condoms and other contraceptives in Malawi in 2013, while a third provided condoms in Sierra Leone in 2011 and 2012.

The Cordaid website also shows that it gave the Philippines Planned Parenthood affiliate €220,491 in 2013 for a teen sex-ed program, and partnered with another affiliate in Sierra Leone in 2013 and 2014. Cordaid gave a Marie Stopes affiliate over half a million Euros in 2013 to provide birth control, including sterilization.

Cordaid is not only a member but also a co-founder of Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican’s coalition of Catholic relief, development, and social service organizations. There are 165 members in some 200 countries and territories across the world, and Cordaid is Caritas Internationalis’ local affiliate for the Netherlands.

The head of Caritas Internationalis was released from her position in 2011 amidst internal changes requested by the Vatican, prompted by concerns over the development agency’s Catholic identity. The following year Pope Benedict XVI ordered a reform of Caritas Internationalis.

The Lepanto Institute’s Michael Hichborn criticized Cordaid’s open flaunting of its membership in Caritas Internationalis while obviously disobeying Church teaching.

"With Cordaid boasting its proud membership in Caritas Internationalis while simultaneously fully admitting to dispensing contraception and funding Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, Caritas has an obligation to expel Cordaid from its rosters," he told LifeSiteNews.

Responding to LifeSiteNews’ inquiry into the report’s specifics, in addition to stating that women benefit from “family planning” services and expressing importance in reducing “unwanted pregnancies,” Cordaid insisted it is not involved in providing abortion.

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“Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion,” the relief group said.

Cordaid also said it had the esteem of those with whom it collaborates. “Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south.”

“The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work,” the group added. “The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum com unum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in the world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.”  

LifeSiteNews sent inquiries to Caritas Internationalis regarding Cordaid’s activities in conflict with Church teaching, and did not receive a response before press time.

Hichborn decried the thought of Catholics in the Netherlands funding anti-Catholic initiatives. "Are the bishops of the Netherlands aware of what Cordaid is doing?” he asked. “Do Catholic parishes in the Netherlands take up collections for Cordaid? The Catholic faithful need to be made aware of what is happening in our Church."

Cordaid’s full statement to LifeSiteNews:

As a Catholic organization, Cordaid has long experience in healthcare in developing countries, especially sexual and reproductive healthcare.

In our programs one of our aims is to build bridges between citizens and governments, partners in the North and partners in the South, and bring together both religious and non-religious organizations.

Our long experience has taught us that good, complete and timely information and access to affordable and good-quality family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare are crucial to strengthening the position of women in developing countries and to lowering the rate of unwanted pregnancies. Cordaid's instruments of family planning and sexual and reproductive healthcare do not include abortion.

Our partners, governments and our funding partners respect the way we, as a proud member of Caritas Internationalis, fulfil our role to build bridges between faith based and non-faith based organizations in north and south. The catholic social teachings are the fundament of our identity and work. The fundamental elements of the catholic social teachings, subsidiarity, solidarity, bonum comunum and human dignity, inspire and guide us in our mission to build flourishing communities in world’s most fragile and conflict affected areas.   

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