Boys will be boys! Or will they?

sincerityA couple of weeks ago I conducted an assembly with 200+ high school junior and senior guys. About 15-20 minutes into the presentation, a young man raised his hand and asked the following question, “Are you telling us that we shouldn’t have sex?” He wasn’t trying to be confrontational. He was genuinely shocked by the possibility that I could be making such a statement. The look of confusion on his face was proof that this was a message he had never heard before.

I wish I could say I was surprised by this young man’s question, but I wasn’t. Young men in classes often tell me that I am the first adult to ever tell them that sex is not a good choice to make.

My parents, and family in general, seem to disagree with the opinion that children should remain abstinent in high school, but I have to thank you for reinforcing that thought in my head.

In a day of STD rates at epidemic level proportions among teens, not to mention teen pregnancy/fatherlessness issues, how could it be possible that some teen boys are not being told that sex is not a good choice? I think it is because many parents and adults have bought into the notion that “Boys will be boys!”

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My Week in Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly!

Driving at sunset - rear view mirrorLast week was quite a week! I drove almost 700 miles and spoke to more than 2,500 students in seven schools in five towns.

The GOOD!

As much as I despise driving, it was actually refreshing to travel through small towns where life seems so much simpler than life in a big city. I was constantly tempted to pull over to take pictures of perfectly lined trees in pecan orchards, people sitting on benches in quaint little town squares or the elderly gentleman sitting on his tractor at the edge of his yard waving at every passing car.

There’s also something fulfilling about speaking to students in small towns who attend schools that may not have the resources of schools in larger cities. You can almost see the hunger on the students’ faces. In most of the schools I visited last week, the students were so attentive that you would have thought I had honey dripping from my lips. It was as if they were hearing things they had never heard before, and they were eating it up.

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Where in the world is Jackie?

iStock_000022998034SmallFirst, let me apologize for not being more consistent with posting lately. In case you didn’t notice, last week was my first time publishing a post in three months. But it’s not like I was twiddling my thumbs over the summer and doing nothing. My summer was extremely busy! As a matter of fact, I’d like to bring you up to speed on what’s been happening with me lately.

I Have a Secret!

I’ve been working on a book, The Seven Secrets Guys Will Never Tell You, for longer than I care to admit and finally decided that recording a DVD of an assembly may be an easier task to accomplish in the short term. I was right! This summer, I released two DVDs, one for girls and one for guys. You can find out more about the DVDs and place an order here.

DVD Covers3

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Scared Straight? Why it Doesn’t Work for Sex

istock Scared StraightIf you’re a woman, I’m sure you can relate to having a bad hair day and all you can manage to do is throw on a baseball cap when you leave the house. Well I had one of those days today, only to have the clerk at the Post Office look closely at me underneath the cap and say, "Hey, you're the 'Sex Lady' trying to hide underneath a cap." [Actually, the only thing I was trying to hide was my “misbehaving” hair.]

After asking about my latest stories from the classroom, she asked me for advice on how to educate her rising 8th grade daughter about sex.  Her plan was to show her daughter pictures of a visibly diseased penis so she would be too afraid to have sex. She asked if I thought this was a good idea.

Don’t judge a penis by its “cover.”

I told her (as I'll tell you); the first problem with showing pictures of visibly diseased reproductive organs is that a person can be contagious from an STD without any outward symptoms. Is her daughter to assume that as long as a guy’s penis doesn’t look like the one in the picture, he doesn’t have an STD? Unfortunately, that is the message that many teens receive when pictures of visibly diseased genitals are used as a teaching tool. In reality, many times the person with the STD doesn’t even know he or she is infected because they haven’t seen any outward symptoms.

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Three Reasons Teen Girls Stay Instead of Walking Away!

conflict and emotional stress in young coupleHave you ever wondered why teenage girls stay in unhealthy relationships?

A recent conversation with a young lady after class provides some insight.

She waited until everyone else left and came back to speak with me. It took her a while to speak because she was trying unsuccessfully to fight back tears. I held her as she cried and I repeated, “Whatever it is, you’re going to be okay!”

She finally pulled herself together enough to speak and said,

Thank you for speaking to my class! Hearing you speak made me realize that I need to end a 2 ½ year relationship with my boyfriend. He pressured me into having sex about 9 months after we started dating. Even though he wasn’t a good guy, I felt like I had to have sex with him to keep him around. I gave him so many chances even when he lied to me and cheated on me. He even gave me an incurable STD and I stayed with him.

Last summer I was diagnosed with HPV, the strain that causes cervical cancer. I’ve already had my cervix scraped twice because the pre-cancer cells had returned. My doctor says I will have to be monitored for cervical cancer the rest of my life.

Listening to you talk about how a guy treats a girl that he really loves made me realize that he never really loved me. I just wish I had heard you before I made the decision to have sex with him. It’s not going to be easy, but I know what I have to do now.

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Are You Speaking Your Child’s Love Language?

HiResI know why girls search for love & try to get it any way they can. My parents never really loved me in the right ways and I have found that this guy does, but I am so desperate for someone’s love. ~High School Student

Does this young lady’s parents love her? I’m sure they do! The problem: They are not speaking her primary love language. In fact, this young lady did not say her parents did not love her. She said they never really loved her in the “right ways,” which has caused her to search for love from a guy.

The search for love in a teenager’s life can lead him or her to make some very dangerous and detrimental decisions. As a matter of fact, my experiences in the past twelve years of working with teens have led me to believe that at the heart of much of their misbehavior is the fact that many teenagers don’t feel loved, and subsequently don’t love themselves. 

Learn to Speak their Language

Watch the video below as Jackie shares information from the book, The Five Love Languages of Teens, in a parent workshop.

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Our Children are being Robbed!

ThiefNo matter how many times I meet a teen mom, I am still saddened when I think about the fact that she has been robbed of her childhood, especially when she is a young teen mom.

In the past year, I have met two such young ladies who both became pregnant in the 7th grade and delivered their babies in the 8th grade. Instantly their “childhoods” became obsolete the moment they gave birth to children of their own. Thirteen and fourteen year olds should be enjoying carefree lives and not dealing with the responsibilities of parenthood.

Recently a friend wrote a “Letter to the Editor” which does a great job of detailing the casualties of teenage pregnancy. It was published in her local paper in support of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month. I found the article to be so powerful that I am sharing an abbreviated/edited version in today’s post.  

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3 Things Teens Say Can Prevent Them from Having Sex!

iStock_000014225228SmallAdults have a tendency to come up with solutions on their own for the issue of teenagers’ bad decision-making. So I decided to survey teens to see what they believe the solutions are. Below are some of the most common responses I received when I specifically asked students what they thought it would take to decrease the number of teenagers having sex:

1. Higher expectations from parents and adults!

I believe that if teens knew that their parents believed in them, parents would not be disappointed. ~High School Student

I have reconnected with many former students who told me the reason they had not had sex was because they didn’t want to disappoint me (not their parents, but me). For many of them, their parents expect them to be sexually active as a teen. I am saddened when I hear them say I have higher expectations of them than their own parents have.

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3 Top Mistakes Parents Make with their Child and Porn!

iStock_000014687036SmallIn my last post, I shared a very enlightening interview I conducted with a Youth Pastor at a large, prominent church in the metro Atlanta area. He shared what he has observed with the youth at his church as it relates to pornography. Today is Part 2 of that interview. If you have not already read the first part of the interview, I would encourage you to do so.

Jackie: Based on your experiences, what is the biggest mistake that parents make when it comes to teens and pornography?

Youth Pastor: I can think of three mistakes that parents make!

Mistake #1: Assuming that pornography is not a struggle for their child.

I will tell you even as a Youth Pastor, the temptation is there. I would venture to say that there is not a teenage boy or man who doesn’t have to deal with the lust of the flesh. Actually, it’s not just teenage boys, but girls as well. I will admit that the temptation is stronger for some than others.

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A Youth Pastor’s Experiences with Pornography

Java Printing

In my last post, I discussed how parents could lessen their child’s risk for exposure to pornography. As I said, it’s not a matter of if their child will be exposed to pornography, but rather when. This week, I will share a very enlightening interview I conducted with a Youth Pastor at a large, prominent church in the metro Atlanta area about what he sees in his interactions with the youth in his church.

It’s bigger than you think!

Jackie: How big of a problem do you think pornography is for teenagers based on what you see in your work as a Youth Pastor?

Youth Pastor: I have no doubt that pornography has become one of the biggest threats and attacks on teenagers today. I think it’s a bigger problem than drugs or alcohol, even more so with technological advances such as, smart phones, iPods and even gaming systems that can access the Internet. When I started in youth ministry 10 years ago, I would sometimes hear about struggles with pornography. As the years have advanced, it’s now one of the top issues I hear from teenagers as far as their struggles and for a lot of them it has become an addiction.

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