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August 10th, 2017 by Equipping Youth

Here at Equipping Youth we are excitedly planning an event that we want you to enjoy with us. At the Kirkwood Hotel Center we are having a banquet of gourmet foods. The evening of September 21st, from 6 – 8:30 pm. You will dine and hear how our curriculum makes a difference in many lives as youth learn to make the best possible choices everyday. Our friend Dr. Freda Bush from the Medical Institute of Texas will challenge and inform you as she shares her passion to help youth survive and thrive in this culture.
Would you like to have an active role in this event? See our website for information on hosting a table or sponsoring the evening http://www.equippingyouth.org/2017-equipping-youth-banquet/

April 22nd, 2017 by Equipping Youth

Will the youth of Iowa be left without vital information to avoid ‘needing an abortion’?

Iowa Right to Life has great news in their recent letter. “The four Pro-Life measures before the House, sent over to the Senate will limit abortion in Iowa.”

This is great news for the many thousands of yet to be born children and teens;

However is the best sex education being taught in our schools?


Iowa’s current laws on this subject emphasize the need to teach children about the various methods of reducing the risk of pregnancy and SDIs (Sexually Transmitted Infections). In the Human Sexuality Components of the Human Growth and Development for life skills education in our schools we need laws changed to enforce the teachings of the truth of the efficacy of these risk reduction methods. We also need laws that promote the teaching of how to totally avoid these risks.


Our current sexual education laws reflect the false but popular philosophy of the normalization of teens having sex because of the belief that most teens are engaged in sexual intimacy. This falsified philosophy has led to the idea that youth must be taught to reduce their risks; Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) education, also known as comprehensive sex education. The children of Iowa desperately need Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education also known as abstinence until marriage education. SRR education emphasizes the use of latex barrier prophylactics.

SRA education is the primary prevention education model. SRA education incorporates the ‘whole person’. Intimate relations result in consequences, positive and negative, to the whole human being. SRA lessons promote abstinence as the very best way of avoiding all negative consequences of sexual intimacy until marriage. These lessons incorporate the benefits of waiting until marriage, making wise choices concerning friendships, group dynamics, personal health, character development, avoiding violence and habit forming activities, how to deal with past and present childhood negative episodes, and  making future educational goals


For the past eight years proponents of SRR education have misused the laws of Iowa to claim that it is unlawful to teach Equipping Youth’s curriculum, Powerful Choices or any curriculum that teaches youth to choose ‘abstinence only’. Although this is false according to the law, 279.50, 10 and 11, most schools in Iowa have discontinued their lessons that had made a huge difference for the health of our youth. From the late 1990 until 2010 many school districts in Iowa taught abstinence to their students.  Iowa Vital Statistics showed that in 2010 our Iowa birth rate and abortion rate of unmarried teens dramatically fell to unprecedented levels. At the same time the Iowa Youth Behavior Surveys showed that much less than half of our youth ever had engaged in sexual activities. Currently these same statistics are showing a rapid increase. Iowa Public Health data is also showing an increase of the incidence of STIs among our youth.

Will you please challenge your legislators in Des Moines to go another step toward fulfilling the desperate needs of our children? Ask them to review the Human Sexuality Components of the Human Growth and Development requirements for education. They could start in sections 256 and 279. Ask them to review similar laws in states such as Georgia and Wisconsin for improvement ideas for our Iowa laws.


For information to help for parents in this culture see our website www.equippingyouth.org


Your donations make it possible for us to remain available to the youth of our communities.

May God bless you and yours!

For the Staff and Board of Equipping Youth          Ruth Anne

April 1st, 2017 by Equipping Youth

From Abstenece Clearinghouse    http://abstinence.net/2017/03/29/have-you-had-the-prom-talk-with-your-teen
With spring comes the anticipation of prom season for thousands of teens. Formal attire is purchased, hair appointments are scheduled and arrangements to take pictures at a unique location are made in preparation for the big day. Amidst all the excitement, do not lose the opportunity to talk to your teen about the pressures they may face on prom night. Pressure to engage in sexual activity and participate in substance abuse is high. That being said, building up your teen’s self-esteem prior to prom and having a conversation with them about the choices they may face is important.
Ask your teen…
  • “What will you be doing after from?”
  • “Who will you be with after prom?”
  • “How can you mentally prepare for unexpected situations that may arise?”
Tell your teen…
  • “If you find yourself in a situation that is uncomfortable, do not hesitate to call someone (mother, father or sibling) and we will pick you up.”
  • “It does not matter how much money your date may have spent on your ticket and corsage, you do not owe them anything. They have the privilege of taking you on a date. It is ok to say no.”
At the end of the day your teen needs to know that they are loved and that they have a choice. The need to know that not everyone is ‘doing it’ and that you believe they have the ability to go against what culture says and say ‘no’.

March 31st, 2017 by Equipping Youth

Here’s some insight to the new Digital Dating World from Focus on the Family


Dating in a Digital World

Part of the Teen Romance Series
A group of 10 teens sitting around a picnic table and smiling

My daughter dates by spending hours texting with a guy,” my friend told me the other day. “I’ve never met him, and I don’t know what they do online, but it makes me uncomfortable.” This friend expressed the same confusion and concern that many parents experience about the teen dating scene.

Today, dating means something completely different from a girl waiting by the phone for a boy to call and ask her out. A mom told me, “I was stunned to learn that dating for my daughter meant Facebook chatting with a guy in her class and changing her status to ‘in a relationship.’ ”

However teens define it, more than half of U.S. teens date regularly (casual, nonexclusive) and a third have a steady (exclusive) dating relationship. Their dating landscape has changed from those of previous generations because of the inclusion of social media and texting and the influence of a young-adult hook-up culture that fast-forwards to casual sex.

So how do we help guide our teens toward healthy, God-honoring relationships? By combining the best of modern and traditional approaches.

Make use of today’s customs

Not all modern dating trends are unhealthy. Thanks to a modern tribal mentality, teens are more comfortable getting to know each other in group settings — and often dating in groups. This makes it easier for a love interest to be vetted by friends and for teens to hold each other accountable. Obviously, peer pressure can go in a negative direction, but this lessens when we get to know the individuals in their group. As our teens become attracted to someone, we can ask their friends to help be a gauge for whether our teens are remaining true to who they are or changing their personality to fit with their love interest.

Discuss social media

For those teens allowed to use age-appropriate social media, parents and teens can quickly learn about people’s character and values based on what they post on their social media. These searches can be used to start discussions about the qualities of a future mate and what teens are looking for in a boyfriend or girlfriend.

Monitor texts

Texting, though not the ideal form of social communication, has a positive side. It allows teens to spend time getting to know each other apart from the physical side of a relationship. Although unmonitored technology could lead to sexting and compromising selfies, parents shouldn’t fear this form of communication if they’re willing to set boundaries.

Don’t forget the past

As strict and “old fashioned” as previous generations may seem, their culture upheld clear moral standards. For instance, an unmarried girl could never be alone with a boy in her bedroom (or anywhere in the house), and teens had curfews. They needed to let their parents know where they were going and what they were doing — and with whom. These boundaries were set up to protect teens from temptation, undue harm and shame. The same boundaries can help keep modern teens’ actions in check and safeguard their hearts, minds and bodies from regret and hurt.

Put it all together

Parents really can harness the best of today’s and yesteryear’s customs. We can encourage group activities, but also require that we meet each “friend” face to face. As we establish reasonable curfews, we can require them to tell us where they are and help them set personal boundaries. We also need to extend those boundaries into any social media and texting we allow them to have.

Setting boundaries, though, isn’t a one-time deal. It’s important that we keep the dialogue open so we can help our teens understand the why behind every rule and patiently work through their concerns with them.

Our teens aren’t really that much different from teens of past generations. Just like we once were, they’re apt to be confused about how to deal with the opposite sex. Parents Bryan and Hayley have helped their teens by creating a “safe zone” during the dinner hour. They have open discussions with their three teens about sex, relationships and the importance of giving and receiving respect and honor. This safe zone, where anything can be talked about, helps teens navigate their changing world.

Teens need someone to listen to them, love them and walk with them through the process of establishing healthy relationships. What a wonderful lifelong gift we give our teens when we become that someone for them.

March 31st, 2017 by Equipping Youth


Text from the Abstinence Clearinghouse article:

I am often asked to speak about sex to high school students. Many adults shudder at the thought of talking to kids about sex, but I love it. First, I have a captive audience, and second, I get to talk about two things that I am very passionate about: the dangers of teen sex and the joys of sex in marriage. Many adults worry that kids will be too shy to ask questions but on the contrary, I have found them eager to have ever their questions answered in an honest, upbeat manner.

I do not take the topic of teens and sex lightly. I have seen the pain of STDs in 13- and 14-year-old children in my office along with other serious health issues caused by sex.

Most people are aware of the physical repercussions of sex:

  • We now have 35 known STDs. In 1960, we only had two.
  • Teenagers make up one-third of the U.S. population, but they carry 50 percent of STDs.
  • One in four teens has an STD. (Over 80% of those infections have no symptoms, so they can go undetected, which is dangerous for the teen, their future sexual partners and their future children.)

You may be familiar with those numbers, but few are aware of the emotional repercussions teen sex can have.

For the thousands of teens I’ve treated and counseled, many of them—yes, teen boys too—have depression related to sexual activity. You rarely hear the correlation made, but I consider depression an STD with effects as devastating as HPV, chlamydia or any physical infection.

Depression related to teen sex can have effects as devastating any physical STD infection.CLICK TO TWEET

Consider these numbers:

  • In 2015, an estimated 3 million adolescents age 12 to 17 in the U.S. had at least one major depressive episode in the past year—that’s about 12.5% of all 12 to 17 year olds.
  • From 1999-2014, the suicide rate in girls age 10 to 14 tripled.
  • About 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.

I believe it is no coincidence that as STDs have become an epidemic in teens, so has depression. The correlation is startling.

Depression in a teen occurs on a biochemical as well as psychological level and the two are linked. We know that the levels of specific hormones in the cerebral spinal fluid of depressed teens are different from those of non-depressed teens.

We know that depression occurs when a teen experiences un-grieved losses—hurts that have been buried in their psyche, festering like abscesses. When a teen doesn’t deal with a traumatic or hurtful event, he ends up stuffing it and the negative emotions come out sideways. He becomes angry, withdrawn and depressed.

It is no coincidence that as STDs have become an epidemic in teens, so has depression.CLICK TO TWEET

Think about a 17-year-old boy who has had multiple sexual partners (as most 17 year old boys these days are encouraged to do.) He has sex because he believes this is what he must do to be a “man”. However, not all of those sexual encounters go well. He is too ashamed to admit this to his friends and knows he can’t talk to his parents about it, so he pretends like everything is fine, stuffs his feelings and continues having multiple partners.

Or consider a 15-year-old girl who feels pressured to have sex with her boyfriend. She finally does and two weeks later, he breaks up with her. She can’t explain to her parents why the break-up is so upsetting (she may not even know why herself), so she tries to find consolation in the next boy she dates, starting an unhealthy cycle and not dealing with the grief and the loss.

Teenagers don’t have the psychological or cognitive maturity to handle sex, regardless of what adults in our culture say. And they certainly can’t handle sex with multiple partners. Depression occurs by un-grieved losses and the truth is, sex for teen boys and girls causes many losses on many levels.

The misconceptions many parents have about their teenagers are these: that teen boys are nothing more than vats of hormones, that girls want to be sexually active in high school and college because that’s what girls do, and that sex is really fine for kids if they use “precautions” and stay “safe.” I discuss the dangers of both of these misconceptions, as well as the link between teen sex and depression in a recent episode of my Parenting Great Kids podcast.

Parenting Great Kids with Dr. Meg Meeker        
Talking to Your Kids About Sex          

Subscribe on iTunes

First, boys have minds, hearts and spirits and treating them otherwise is wrong. Second, most girls don’t want to be sexually active but have no one to counsel them how to postpone sex. Finally, terms like “precautions” and “safe” are meaningless. How is a teen to avoid hurt if he has sex, bonds to a girl and then breaks up? And studies show that condoms don’t protect equally against different diseases, so being “safe” is nonsense.

I can’t tell you how many 16- and 17-year-old boys come up to me after I’ve spoken at their school to talk about the emotional scars they have from sex.

Parents, its your job to make sure your teens understand the emotional/mental connection of sex.CLICK TO TWEET

This is why simply talking to your child about “safe sex” (a phrase that even the CDC won’t use anymore) is not enough. It’s your job as your son or daughter’s parent to help set them up for a lifelong, monogamous relationship and to get them there as emotionally unscathed as possible; not to simply cross your fingers and hope your child doesn’t get one of the over 35 STDs.

Do more than teach your child about the physical harm that can result from sex. Talk to them about their feelings and make sure they understand the emotional and mental connection that sex has. You need to be the person to tell your child this and know that they want to hear what you have to say. Work very hard to protect their hearts and minds as much as their bodies because trust me, nobody else is going to help teach them what you will.

If you have more questions about how to talk to your child about sex, my toolkit “How to Talk to Have ‘The Talk’ with Your Child” is available now. You can get 20% off at checkout when you use code: talkblog! It is full of resources that will help guide you in this tricky area of parenting.

November 4th, 2016 by Equipping Youth

Five years and more than a half billion dollars later, it appears that what were promised as effective models for sex education curricula simply are not. In a blow to the heavily-funded federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPP), new research shows dismal results for youth served in the program. Begun in 2010, the TPP program was called “evidence-based” by the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and communities were guaranteed positive results if they implemented one of the curricula on the HHS-approved list, as shown by this quote found on the HHS website: “Evidence-based programs can be expected to produce positive results consistently.“[1] But the findings of the newly released research shows the promise was mostly inaccurate.

According to researchers who worked on the evaluation project, “most of the programs had small or insignificant impacts on adolescent behavior.”[2] A closer look at the research findings reveals that this summary may be a generous assessment of the results, since some youth actually fared worse when they were enrolled in some of the funded projects. Compared with their peers who were in the program, teens in some TPP-funded projects were more likely to begin having sex, more likely to engage in oral sex, and more likely to get pregnant. In fact, more than 80% of students in these programs fared either worse or no better than their peers who were not in the program.
Valerie Huber, president/CEO of Ascend responded to the TPP results: “For years, we have been concerned that objective research protocols were ignored when making the ‘evidence-based’ promises for TPP. As a result, school administrators and community stakeholders were led to believe that if they wanted their youth to thrive, they must implement curricula from the TPP ‘evidence-based’ list. Many well-intentioned decision makers did just that, but now they learn that this decision may have been ill-advised – and that their students may be at increased risk as a result.”

“This research gives us serious reason to pause – ask the hard questions – and be willing to amend what messages we are giving vulnerable youth. It’s time to bring honesty and transparency to the entire issue of sex education. The fact is that the sexual risk reduction approach, typified in the TPP program, holds no claim on successful models that guarantee sexual health for youth.”

The lessons from public health tell us two things that should inform sex education policies, beginning today:

The healthiest message for youth is one that gives youth the skills and information to avoid the risks of teen sex, not merely reduce them. This is a message that is relevant in 2016, since the majority of teens have not had sex, far fewer, in fact, than 20 years ago.[3] Therefore, we need to be more intentional with finding the best ways to help youth achieve this optimal health outcome.
TPP programs overwhelmingly normalize teen sex – a message that 1 in 4 teens say makes them feel pressured to have sex.[4] The recently-released TPP research appears to confirm this felt sexual-pressure. As a society, we must normalize sexual delay and make it a realistic expectation.

Huber suggests one more consideration: “Sex education posturing and policies should not be about winning or losing a debate. Policies must be about increasing the chances that all youth can obtain optimal sexual health and a brighter opportunity for a healthy and successful future. Nothing less is acceptable.”

The attached infographic summarizes the results for the years 2010-2014, the period of time studied in the TPP research.

A summary of the findings from HHS can be found here.

[1] HHS, Office of Adolescent Health (OAH) website. Retrieved October 14, 2016 at http://www.hhs.gov/ash/oah/oah-initiatives/teen_pregnancy/training/curriculum.html

[2] (2016). Special issue of American Journal of Public Health explores impacts of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. American Journal of Public Health: September 2016. 106 (S1):S9-S15.
Retrieved on October 14, 2016 at http://www.news-medical.net/news/20160930/Special-issue-of-American-Journal-of-Public-Health-explores-impacts-of-Teen-Pregnancy-Prevention-Program.aspx

[3] CDC (2016) YRBS. Atlanta: Author. Retrieved October 14, 2016 at

[4] (2015). Teens speak out. Ventura: Barna Research.


Ascend (formerly the National Abstinence Education Association) champions youth to make healthy decisions in relationships and life by promoting well being through a primary prevention strategy, and as a national membership and advocacy organization that serves, leads, represents and equips the Sexual Risk Avoidance field.

Copyright © 2015 Ascend, All rights reserved.