Sex, Politics, Religion And Poverty.

According to a new Census Bureau report, Social and Economic Characteristics of Currently Unmarried Women With a Recent Birth: 2011, more than 6 out of 10 women who have children in their early twenties are unmarried. That number has accelerated in recent years – up 80 percent since 1980. Overall, 36 percent of all births in the United States were to unmarried mothers in 2011.

The Census Bureau attributed the increase, in part, to changing norms for sexual behavior and a decrease in marriage rates. But before you religious zealots decry the alleged decline in our nation’s moral values, you should know that teen mothers are far more common in the US than in Europe, despite the fact that, according to studies, US teens have less sex than European teens.

Obviously, there are reasons beyond the imagined moral decline. The most important is economic. Women with college degrees and higher incomes are far less likely to be single mothers. And according to many studies, the greater the gap between the poor and the middle class in any particular region, the more likely an unmarried woman is to have a baby while she’s young!

Pushing the mother to marry the child’s father often makes matters worse. It results in a variety of associated problems including domestic abuse, early divorce and children who are traumatized by parental conflict, broken households and overall instability.

Given the fact that most of those in the US who are living on public assistance are single mothers and their children, it’s in all of our best interests to find a solution to this phenomenon. In searching for answers, we should first look at sex education and contraception. Several studies have found that education on correct contraceptive use works best in preventing teen pregnancy. These studies also conclude that abstinence-only education may, in fact, contribute to an increase in teen pregnancies.

A 10-year government study found that that “students in abstinence-only programs were no more likely to have abstained from sex, had similar numbers of sexual partners, and had sex for the first time at around the same age as students not in abstinence-only programs.”

All of this shows that, instead of allowing Teapublicans to cut sex education in public schools, we should be increasing it. Instead of allowing the Catholic Church and evangelists to deny easy access to contraceptives, we should be making them more available. And instead of cutting public assistance and food stamp programs, we should be improving them. Studies prove that doing otherwise only perpetuates the problem.

As usual, the right is wrong!

Trial By Media.

For some Americans, this promises to be a big week…a very big week.  You see, this may be the week the media circus, also known as the Jodi Arias trial, reaches a climax…er, verdict.

For weeks on end, Americans have been glued to their TVs to make certain they wouldn’t miss a single salacious detail of the trial. They were riveted by testimony regarding the sexual relationship between Arias and her murder victim. They hung on every word of testimony from expert witnesses. They posted their theories on Facebook and Twitter. Many stood in line for hours in hopes they could grab a seat in the courtroom. A few even traveled to Phoenix so they could be near the event and, perhaps, catch a glimpse of some of the participants.

In short, the Arias trial was a media outlet’s dream, certain to increase ratings. The trial had it all…sex, bondage, betrayal, murder, intrigue…it was almost as if Fifty Shades of Grey had come to life.

Of course, murder trials take place daily in courts across the country. But only the most sensational garner such attention. The Arias trial is but the latest in a long line of sensational, made-for-TV trials, such as the OJ Simpson trial, Amanda Knox trial, and the Casey Anthony trial. Only the trials with the most famous celebrities, the most beautiful defendants, the cutest victims, or the most aberrant behavior draw such attention.

Whatever the verdict, such trials say far more about our society and our media than they do about the defendants.

Imagine if that kind of media attention was focused on real issues and problems. Imagine if the homeless and the hungry were covered relentlessly by news outlets. Imagine if the media spent as much time on public policy, politicians and corrupt officials. Imagine if network TV reporters covered the murders of innocent civilians caused by our lax gun laws as voraciously as they covered the murder of OJ’s wife.

Imagine if the public cared.