Why is Teen STAR more successful than straight abstinence/chastity programs? Some of them wrongly teach a negative view of sexuality, stressing risks of pregnancy and disease, and many of the programs are essentially short-term, top-down lectures that remain external to the individual teens. Teen STAR, on the other hand, is experiential, personal and internalized. Girls learn to understand and value their sexuality, as well as their fertility, by experiencing and identifying the hormonal shifts and symptoms that occur throughout their cycle. They come to “own” their fertility and begin to have control over their moods and, importantly, their relationships.
Comprehensive sex ed and our culture separate sex from procreation and relationships. Many abstinence curricula also separate sexuality from the context of relationships. But Teen STAR allows students to explore, through guided discussion, the emotional, social, intellectual, spiritual and behavioral aspects of possessing fertility, allowing them to make their own mature decision to abstain from sexual activity until marriage.
A Diocesan Family Life Director,who strongly endorses Teen STAR once wrote a letter to the New Oxford Review, pointing out that, “Sexual intercourse in a Judeo-Christian value system is … a symbol of vulnerability and surrender, of total, mutual self-giving, in a covenant of self-emptying love.” You will not learn that in a comprehensive sex ed or abstinence-only program.
Teen STAR is approved by all bishops in whose dioceses it is offered, and by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The demand for the program is great, but funding remains inadequate. For more information about Teen STAR, please visit their website.
Susan E. Wills is Spirituality Director for Aleteia’s English edition.