1995 Miss Black California
Following is the speech Lakita gave to The U.S. House
Committee's Small Business Subcommittee on Empowerment, chaired by Rep.
Mark Souder. The 1998 hearings focused on the social and economic consequences
of teenage pregnancy. Lakita said:
"I am a '20-something' year old black female, a former
2nd-runner up to Miss Black America, an entertainer, president of a corporation,
and a virgin. I've had the unique opportunity to be invited by School Districts,
Abstinence groups, and even state organizations such as the Department
of Health and Human Services and Office of Family Planning in California,
to share the message of abstinence.
I've spoken to nearly a million teenagers of different
racial and socio-economic backgrounds in assemblies across America over
the past 9 years. My greatest motivation in doing so is to empower them
with some of the same tools I was fortunate enough to grow up with, which
I feel are lacking in our culture today. The first thing I communicate
to teens and adults alike is the fact that abstinence is not just shaking
ones finger at a generation and telling them to 'just say no' to sex. Abstinence
is a lifestyle. It is mastering the art of:
These three components are not just the foundation of
an abstinent lifestyle that will enable young people to postpone sexual
evolvement, but the necessary traits every individual must have in order
to achieve anything in life. I believe, I'm sure as any rational individual,
that a permissive undisciplined lifestyle has never, and never will, produce
sustained success or excellence. Many may ask what qualifies me to make
such a bold statement. My great-aunt often said, "the proof is in the pudding."
Delay of self-gratification
I grew up near a project community in Southern California
in which Money Magazine said in the late 80's was one of the worst places
in America to raise children. After serving in Korea and Viet Nam my father
died of cancer a few years after his retirement. Therefore my mother, a
primary school teacher, was left to raise my four older brothers and myself.
An abstinence message wasn't very popular in our
community and she was thought to be quite old-fashioned for insisting that
her children practice self-control, selfdiscipline, and the delay of self-gratification-
in all areas. We indeed were the laughing stock of the community, but the
proof is in the pudding and here's a taste of its results. Of all those
who grew up with my brothers in that community, we were the only complete
family to make it out.
Moreover, my mother raised a doctor, lawyer, engineer,
a career naval serviceman, and I finished college in less than four years.
Abstinence is not a 'just say no' program that exclusively applies to sex
but a lifestyle that spills over into every aspect of a young person's
The future of this nation rests in the hands of the
generation that will follow you. It cannot be gambled away by choosing
to ignore the casualties left over nearly 30 years by the Sexual Revolution.
I am neither a registered democrat nor a registered republican and all
of us must cease to reduce an issue as important as this one down to left,
right, liberal, conservative, but instead focus on what's right and wrong.
To more vividly share what I have witnessed over
these past few years, I'd like to put it in the context of the 10 most
commonly shared opinions about teens and sexuality:
1. It can't happen to me.
2. We just need to teach them safe sex.
3. They're gonna do it anyway.
4. Sex is a natural bodily function that can't be
5. It's too late to teach them ABSTINENCE.
6. Well, I think as long as you love the person,
it's perfectly okay.
7. Kids will never buy into an abstinence message.
8. Hey, if it feels good, do it.
9. You should be able to do whatever you want as
long as you don't hurt anybody.
10. What people do behind closed doors is nobody
[Lakita expanded on each of these 10 opinions]
1. IT CAN'T HAPPEN TO ME - is perhaps the prevailing
attitude of most every teenager in America regardless of what era they
grew up in. It is from this attitude that I have found that all the other
presuppositions stem. However, it is important to take a brief look at
how prevalent the negative consequences of promiscuity among teens has
increased over the past few decades.
The teen birthrate in the United States is the highest
of any 'industrialized nation, nearly twice as great as that of the United
Kingdom and 15 times that of Japan. (Rebecca A. Maynard, Kids Having Kids.
Robin Hood Foundation)
1 million teenage girls get pregnant each year. Of that, approximately
40% will receive government assistance. (Rebecca A. Maynard, Kids Having
Kids. Robin Hood Foundation)
33,000 people contract a new STD everyday. Approximately 2/3 are under
the age of 25. (CDC)
50% of the sexually active single adult population has, or will have,
at least 1 STD in their lifetime. (CDC)
AIDS is the leading killer of Americans between the ages of 25 and
Nearly 40 million surgical abortions have been performed in America
since the Roe vs. Wade decision in 1973. (Alan Guttmacher Research Institute)
Illegitimate births have increased 400% since 1963,
the historical date that marks the beginning of the sexual revolution.
(Medical Institute for Sexual Health) Without exception every group of
teens who hear these facts respond with surprise. Teachers respond similarly
and often remark how things have changed since they were students and ask
an all too familiar question, "when and how did it all fall apart?" Many
adults I come in contact with confessed to have had the same mentality
of "it can't happen to me" as an adolescent, and therefore conclude somehow
that if we just give them more information about sex and safe sex methods
then perhaps the problem will go away.
2. WE JUST NEED TO TEACH THEM HOW TO BE SAFE - I rarely
hear this from teens anymore and I'm hearing it less and less from adults.
Is the lack of information and the unavailability of contraception the
reason for the present state of illegitimacy and rising STD rates among
teens'? Not in my experience. Among my visits to homes for unwed mothers
and 'pregnant schools' such as Simpson Alternative School in Chicago, Ill,
I found some very consistent traits. None of the girls said their pregnancies
were due to ignorance of contraception methods. As a matter of fact, only
14% of teens don't use birth control because they lack knowledge of or
access to birth control." ( "American Teens Speak: Sex, Myths, TV and Birth
Control," The Planned Parenthood Poll, Louis Harris and Associates, Inc.
Moreover, many admitted that they had intentionally
gotten pregnant and when I asked how many of them were using "protection"
(condoms, the pill, etc.) when they conceived -- on average, 3 to 4 out
of 10 raised their hands. By the way, what were those contraception failure
Upon witnessing this, I thought it would be interesting
to ask them a similar question to that which Eunice Kennedy Shriver asked
when she visited a group of teen mothers: "What do you want to know more
Surprisingly every group of teen mothers I spoke
with responded the same way they responded to her. The majority asked questions
such as, "how do I live an abstinent lifestyle?" Furthermore, I have no
recollection of any pregnant girls ever asking me about better contraception
devices. Are these isolated cases? Afraid not. Here are but a few more
instances that reveal what teens are interested in being taught about sex:
A study in Family Planning perspectives, published
by an affiliate of Planned Parenthood, and cited in the minority dissent
bears this out. More than 100 sexually active girls 16 or younger were
asked what topic they wanted more information on. A whopping 84% said,
"How to say NO without hurting the other person's feelings." Washington
Post, April 24, 1992.
83% of sexually active juniors and seniors in four inner-city high
schools said the best age to initiate intercourse was older than they had
been when they started, and about 25% of both sexes who had intercourse
said they believed that sex before marriage is wrong. American Journal
of Preventive Medicine. Washington Post 4/24/92
A survey of 1200 young people in a Teen Services
Program found 80%, "said they wanted to know more about how to say no,"
AP, Jan 23, 1984
A picture says a thousand words, and especially moving
pictures. ABC's Primetime, with Diane Sawyer, had a revealing segment on
school based clinics in the city of Baltimore entitled 'The End of Innocence.'
In general, the adults in the segment were strongly in favor of giving
Norplant implants to teenage girls at in their school and readily dismissed
abstinence as a waist of time. However, when they interviewed the girls
who had received a Norplant implant it was a different story. Their words
affirm that contraception and "condoms are essentially sex accommodation
rather than sex education." "Summary position statement on the condom for
disease prevention," Taxpayer Action Committee.
Voice Over -- "We learned in the course of this report
something that made us sad, every one of these sexually active girls confided
to us, they wish they had said no."
Sawyer-- "If you had to do it all over again, let's
say starting right now you'd never been with a boy at all, how long would
you wait?" 1st Girl-- "'Til I got married."
2nd Girl -"Yeah."
3rd Girl - "Uh Hmm."
My generation knows more about sex than any other
in American history. Yet, .if the mere acquisition of knowledge insured
the reduction of illegitimate births and STD's, then we wouldn't be having
this discussion. On the contrary, every negative consequence of adolescent
sexual involvement has increased in spite of the efforts to give them more
education. One of my closest friends' little sister got an A in her sex
education class but got pregnant in her Junior year of high school.
Although a lengthy discussion would ensue if we expounded
on the evidence that points to the fact that increased comprehensive sex
education increases sexual activity among adolescence (Louis Harris and
Assoc., The Planned Parenthood Poll, 1986, p.53, Table 5-4). I hear many
adults say that we just need to equip them with protection. But learning
more about safer sex techniques and contraception is not on the top of
their list. After giving an hour presentation in Lafayette, La., a 15 year-old
gift asked me the million-dollar question that I'm so often asked. "I want
to stop having sex with my boyfriend and instead practice abstinence. Do
you know where I can get more information."
3 . THEY'RE GONNA DO IT ANYWAY - Is what an assistant
vice principle told me before I spoke in her school. In fact this is perhaps
the most quoted response I hear adults say when commenting on teen sexuality.
I often wonder why that is. We don't seem to have that same attitude towards
teens when it comes to other risky behaviors. We communicate that drugs,
alcohol, and violence are not acceptable and even make the effort to inform
them that these behaviors are not only socially unacceptable but illegal
as well. Why haven't we done this in regard to sex? We haven't clearly
communicated that teen sexual involvement is an unacceptable behavior because
we've sent a mixed message. Granted everyone isn't going to abstain, and
provision must be made for those who have deviated from the standard. However,
we have made the exception the rule and now the standard, sexual abstinence,
has become the exception. We must be just as consist in the messages we
communicate to teens in regards to sex as we've been with drugs and violence.
I often point out the schizophrenia in our logic
when I'm with the teens and amazingly enough they see it more clearly than
most adults I encounter: Drugs are illegal, but since we know you're going
to do it anyway, we're going to instruct you on how many ccs's you can
safely inject yourself with without overdosing.
Alcohol consumption is illegal for minors, but since
we know you're going to do it anyway, were going to teach you how to accurately
calculate the amount of alcohol you can ingest (per body weight) and yet
still be below the legal blood alcohol limit. Smoking is bad for you and
it is illegal for someone to sell cigarettes to minors, but since we know
you're going to do it anyway, we're going to provide filters for you at
the school based clinic. In addition, we'll even help schedule appointments
for you to purchase your cigarettes without your parents consent to protect
your privacy. Carrying handguns is illegal for minors, but since we know
you're going to do it anyway, we're going to provide a bulletproof vest
distribution program. Moreover, we'll show you how to become expert marksmen
so when you do your drive-byes you will be responsible enough not to shoot
innocent babies and elderly people.
Sex with a minor is illegal and can have negative
consequences, but since we know you're going to do it anyway, we're going
to have condom distribution programs, demonstrations on how to put them
on correctly. In some cases we'll provide you with Depo-Provera shots or
Norplant implants without informing your parents to protect your privacy.
Can we honestly say that we have provided a clear
and consistent message about the unacceptability of teen sexual involvement?
Likewise, can we say we've informed the public that sex with a minor is
against the law? Although the age of consent is not consistently 18 years
of age across the country, I find very few teens that even know that sex
with a minor is a crime. All of the above mentioned activities are illegal
-- or illegal for minors to engage in -- because we all know and have seen
how such activity has devastated teens and society as a whole. Why is it
that we continue to turn our heads and ignore the obvious? I assert that
sex education over the past few decades has been a form of entrapment by
which we have accommodated, instructed, aided, and abetted teens in committing
the crime of statutory rape. How true is this? In the State of California,
over half of the births to teen girls are fathered by men over the age
of 22! (CA., Office of Family Planning) The vast majority of these crimes
go unprosecuted and it's a safe bet that most of them didn't even know
that they had committed a crime.
I often share with them, "Impressionable minds live
up to the expectations that are placed upon them. The sad thing is that
society has so lowered the standard and level of expectation that this
generation has had to crawl through a sewer just to get to the other side."
Is it any wonder why our nation is producing the kind of youth that we
are? The overwhelming majority of students I share this opinion with tend
to agree. This attitude of 'they're gonna do it anyway,' tends to foster
a sense of betrayal. After speaking to a group of college athletes, a football
player from Utah State reiterated a common response I hear among teens
across America, "Maybe if people expected more out of us they would get
4. SEX IS A NATURAL BODILY FUNCTION THAT CAN'T BE
CONTROLLED - Is what a fellow guest on a talk show told me and amazingly
enough has been the prevailing attitude when it comes to teaching anything
about sex. It can best be summarized by a quote from Dr. Ruth. 'Asking
young people to control their libido is asking them too much. Their libido
is too strong.' If sex is an uncontrollable bodily function such as breathing,
sleeping, eating, or even going to the restroom then it would be safe to
assume somehow that if one were prevented from exercising these functions,
detrimental side effects would occur, or even death. However, after engaging
in some research, I've not yet found a documented case or an obituary that
read, "Johnny... 17 years old.., cause of death.., virginity."
I always get a response of laughter when I share
this widely held opinion of teens. DuSable High School in Chicago, Ill
was no exception.
Principle Mingo told me that his high school was
the first Chicago City School to have a school based clinic implemented,
it was known as the worst school in America in the early 90's, and is currently
one of the 3 poorest high schools in the country. After receiving a standing
ovation from the student body after a 75 minute abstinence presentation
a young boy from DuSable High School responded to this attitude best with
the affirmation of his peers standing by. He said, ' if they can potty
train us growing up and expect to use self- control when we're older why
can't they have the same expectation when it comes to sex. What do they
think we are, animals?" "It is extremely irresponsible and discriminatory
to imply to our young people that they can control their passions in the
area of violence, drugs, and other abuses but cannot control their sexual
urges." (Pat v. Ware, Shepard Smith, "AIDS and HIV Infection in the African
American Community," House of Representatives, Sept. 16, 1994, p.4.Subcommittee
of Human Resources and Intergovernmental Relations, US). We've resigned
ourselves into believing that since teens don't have the capacity to use
self-control, then birth control will change everything. However, if this
were true, wouldn't we have seen a dramatic decrease in the consequences
of adolescent sexual activity? It seems as though "condoms encourage and
reinforce the same behavior under different risk conditions rather than
encourage change of behavior toward abstinence and faithful monogamy."
("Summary position statement on the condom for disease prevention," Taxpayer
Recently I had a conversation with Hertry, an employee
of the Office of Family Planning, who said, "you know we've taught all
the plumbing and we've shown them (youth) all the contraceptives. Yet,
the statistics are still climbing. It just doesn't work. If you don't get
to the emotional and psychological reasons as to why they are getting involved
then nothing is going to work." Henry has voiced the same thing hat I've
encountered across America, and that's the "emotional and psychological
need to love and be loved... Often, the physical enjoyment of sex is not
an important motivation, particularly among young adolescence." (Journal
of Adolescent Health Care, July 1985, p.267-268.)
5. IT'S TOO LATE TO TEACH THEM ABSTINENCE - is what
I heard a Baltimore, Mar. high school principle say on ABC's Primetime
with Diane Sawyer. She like many others has come to equate sexual experience
with being sexually active. I've often debated officials, who've said,
"look, over 50% of high school students are sexually active by the time
they graduate (Youth Worker Update, CDC and Prevention, March 1994, p.4.),
why are you wasting your time?" This commonly used percentage is misleading.
Although over half of teens may have had sex but that does not mean that
they currently are sexually active. Many of these young people express
how they have had sex a few or several times and then stopped because the
experience was not as they say, "all that."
Let's take a deeper look at this line of reasoning.
In the sixties many young people engaged in drug experimentation -- you
may even know of a few. But did anyone say that it was too late to discourage
this addictive and dangerous behavior? No, as a matter of fact most of
them not only stopped but became productive members of society--and even
politicians. Is it either fair or accurate to say that these individuals
are still active drag users because they have used drags in the past? No.
Then it is never too late to encourage teens to stop engaging in risky
behaviors. Regardless of what many adults say, teens like Zettion believe
otherwise. I spoke to her student body when she was a high school junior
in Rocky Mount, NC. She was a young black female who had previous sexual
experience and had never considered stopping until we met.
"My whole family has been on government assistance
and nobody has ever gone to college. But when I heard you it made me rethink
some things. Nobody ever told me that I could stop, they always said it
was too late for me because I had already had sex.' A year later I returned
and found Zettion had joined the Worth Waiting For Program and completely
changed. She saw the importance of a lifestyle of selfcontrol, self-discipline,
and the delay of self-gratification and joined the ROTC; she stopped having
sex and said she was going to wait until she was married. Now after being
accepted to college, she has become the first member of her family to do
so. Although statistics show that daughters of adolescent morns are 83
% more likely themselves to become mothers before age 18 (Rebecca A. Maynard,
Kids Having Kids. Robin Hood Foundation), Zettion broke this cycle, not
because she was accommodated with birth control but was empowered with
self-control. If you were to ask Zettion she would tell you that deciding
to abstain from sex 'was one of the best decisions' she has ever made.
6. WELL, I THINK AS LONG AS YOU LOVE THE PERSON,
IT'S PERFECTLY OKAY - That's what Damien Harris told me the father of her
son, Gregory, said to her before she got pregnant. Damien was also the
statistic that children of adolescent mothers also become adolescent mothers.
Three days after Damien was born her mother walked out of the hospital
and was never seen again. Although her parents were never married, she
was raised with her paternal grandmother in Los Angeles,CA. She was a gifted
artist on her way to college until she got pregnant and ended up on government
assistance. Soon after her son was born she moved in with me and an abstinent
lifestyle was one of the many things I began to encourage her to practice.
We lived together for several years during which she got off government
assistance, got a full ride scholarship to Long Beach State, moved into
her own apartment and got married. While living together she shared many
things with me in hopes that no other girl would follow the path she took
as a teenager. She has said many times that she knew about and used contraception
but still she contracted STD's and got pregnant. She believes that many
are quick to push safe sex on inner-city girls but never truly addressed
the heart issues of why they are having sex.
Now she is an advocate of abstinence until marriage
and regrets not having waited until she got married. Even though the greatest
determinant of women leaving the welfare system is marriage, not training
programs (Daniel T. Lichter, Felicia B. LeClere, and Diane K, McLaughlin,
"Local Marriage Markets and the Marital Behavior of Black and White Women,"
American Journal of Sociology 96 (1991): 843-8670, still marriage is rarely
encouraged in sex ed classes (especially in the inner cities). Fortunately,
Damien, like Zettion, has surpassed the low expectations placed upon black
females and broken the statistics. I got to participate in her wedding
last year and as I saw her son Gregory walk down the isle as the ring bearer
I had never remembered seeing him happier. He told me, "Aunt Kita, mommy
and I are getting married today!" Now Gregory has something most little
boys in the African-American community will never have, a father who lives
7. KIDS WILL NEVER BUY INTO AN ABSTINENCE MESSAGE -
was what I was initially told buy a public relations firm in Los Angeles
that was contracted by the state of California to promote The Partnership
for Responsible Parenting. But they soon began to change their minds when
I toured the state with the Office of Family Planning speaking to hundreds
of high school students. Eric Curren, Senior Account Executive, for the
public relations firm, said he 'had a blast and being back in the office
hasn't been the same.' He's received responses from all over the state
and the responses were over whelming. 'The claim that students are unwilling
to listen to an abstinence message is untrue.., they eagerly participated..
They thought it was cool." He said teen 'surveys showed that students were
not only receptive to the abstinence message, but that they were thankful
for it: 'I'm glad somebody said what I already thought." "You don't have
to do it to be cool." Eric and others on the tour said the message of self-control,
self-discipline, and the delay of self-gratification was 'empowering.'
Dadasi Elliott, project coordinator for the community
challenge Grant, in Long Beach health department, heard this same message
on an abstinent lifestyle at Reid Alternative High School. He said, "I'd
like to have these assemblies in all Junior and Senior High Schools in
the city of Long Beach every semester."
I have witnessed a major shift in the attitudes of
young people in regards to sex over these past few years: - A recent USA
Today survey stated "72% of young people agree with the chastity message."
(Jeanne Write, "A Push for Chastity," USA Today, March 22, 1994, p.4-9)
"Virginity is making a comeback, along with sexual abstinence. The idea
that virginity is in some sense hip is spreading through popular culture."
(Judith Newman, "Proud to be a Virgin," New York Times, June 19,1994, Section
Even in some unlikely places, were most would write
teens of as a lost cause, an abstinence message has had positive responses
like at Cook Co. Juvenile Detention Center in Chicago, Ill. This facility
is the largest juvenile detention center in the world where, they house
everything from truancy to triple-murder. Because of the response they
have gotten from their population, they request my presence every time
I come to Chicago. "You should know that we have continued to hear from
the kids that they were impacted by your presentation (Associate Judges
for Circuit Court 19th Judicial Circuit, M. Mullen and D. Hall.). '
8. HEY, IF IT FEELS GOOD, DO IT - was the mantra of
the 60's. Just as it is known that marijuana in the 60's is not like marijuana
in the 90's, so sex in the 60's is not like sex in the 90's. What was sown
to the wind is now reaping the whirlwind. In the 60's sex was questioned
by a generation of boomers as an issue of morality. The culture formerly
had standards and this generation, knowing what the standards were, challenged
them by engaging in what the dictionary calls immorality -- defying a known
moral law. These same individuals grew up and became parents to children
who are now amoral -- without knowledge of any moral code -- in regards
to their sexual behavior. Thus, I am a product of an amoral generation
known as X and my counterpart known as the Milliniels. In 1966, the then
Executive Director of SIECUS asked, "What is sex for? It's for fun ...
We need new values to establish when and how we should have sexual experiences."
(Dr. Mary Calderone former medical director of Planned Parenthood and Executive
director of SEICUS. Look Magazine. Mar 8, 1966, "Sex Education Comes of
Well, we got what we asked for, and that's why you're
reading this paper. Some, however, are still fighting for a free sex crusade
that has proven not to be free at all because everybody is paying - financially,
socially, emotionally, physically, and some even with their own lives.
Every Revolution has its casualties, and although their have been person
victories, can we honestly say that we have won the war? Before answering
yes, please remember that it is mine and the subsequent generation that
has suffered the greatest amount of casualties. For my peers and I, sex
isn't merely a moral question but a question of 'is it worth the hassle?'
and today, unlike that carefree frolic in the grass at Woodstock days,
it's a matter of life and death. As one high school boy put it, "sex doesn't
feel good when you're dead."
Will we continue to subscribe to an "if it feels
good, do it" mantra? This mantra inherent in its own words implies that
one not need to have any self-control, no disciplining of oneself, and
live to gratify your passions. This is totally in opposition to the necessary
attributes that young people need to possess to successfully navigate through
life. Dr. Daniel Goleman, author of the book Emotional Intelligence, documents
a Stanford experiment in the late 60's called the marshmallow test. In
summary, 4 and 5-year-old children were measured on their ability to abstain
from eating candy in order that they could receiver greater rewards in
the future. Over a decade later these same children were followed up to
document their progress.
They found that those who had a high EQ, emotional
quotient, (ability to abstain) scored an average of 200 points higher on
their SAT exams and had lower involvement in risky behaviors (drugs, violence,
etc). The amazing thing that was pointed out about this EQ is that your
not born with a set one but can change it at any time (Goleman, Emotional
Intelligence, Bantam NY, NY, 1995. p80-82, 193).
Rod Flynn, president of Flynn Productions and a close
friend, was one of the most creative individuals I have ever met. He not
only subscribed to this 60's mantra but lived it as well, until he contracted
AIDS. During our last conversation he said he was sorry for mocking me
for my work with young people. He confided in me that he could only recall
having unprotected sex one time, yet, if he had had the chance to do it
all over again, he would have waited until he got married. He also asked
me to share his story, graphic details and all, to every young person I
possibly could. Lynn Chamberlain, also a friend from Los Angeles, echoes
the same sentiments. She says that even if she hadn't contracted AIDS having
sex before marriage wasn't worth the emotional and psychological trauma
she has suffered.
Times have changed and I think we've seen the effects
of a culture that has aggressively hailed the anthem of 'if it feels good
do it." Change, however, is in the wind and if we listen closely to the
chorus of voices growing louder among the youth, and not dimmer with age,
it is obvious that a generation "after Woodstock, a new youth rebellion
is afoot. The anthem of this new generation: True Love Waits." (Cheryl
Wetstein, "With Groups' Help, Teens Take Pride in Virginity," The Washington
Times. July 26, 1994, p. A-I)
9. YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT AS
LONG AS YOU DON'T HURT ANYBODY - a Chief District Court Judge for the 5th
Judicial District of North Carolina who served on the National Council
for juvenile and family court judges doesn't think so. Judge Gilbert H.
Burnett told me during a lunch meeting that during his 23 years judging
criminals and juveniles he believes that the biggest cause of crime, public
health costs, and welfare is adolescent pregnancy. He believes that if
teen pregnancies could be cut in half that we would see a decline in crime,
public health costs, and welfare within 12 years. Every year: One million
teenage girls get pregnant. Out of that million: 1/3 have induced abortions,
14% miscarry, 52% give birth. Out of that 52% (that give birth), 80% are
in poverty and end up on public assistance.
The daughters of adolescent mothers are more likely
to become adolescent moms themselves, and the sons are more likely to wind
up in prison. If a teenage girl gives birth to a male child, the chances
are three times as great that he will end up in prison when he is older.
Whereas, if the circumstances were identical, but she waited until she
was 22 of 23, there is 1/3 less chance he would end up in prison. (Rebecca
A. Maynard, Kids Having Kids. Robin Hood Foundation)
An estimated $1 billion is spent annually in the
construction and maintenance of criminal facilities. In which close to
70% that are incarcerated come from single parent homes. (Rebecca A. Maynard,
Kids Having Kids. Robin Hood Foundation)
Judge Burnette believes that when it comes to crime,
people may be looking at the wrong factors such as race and economics.
The statistics are beginning to show this, "the poverty rate and racial
composition of a community are not good indicators of poverty and poverty
but the number of single-parent homes in a neighborhood. (Douglas Smith
and G. Roger Jarjours, 'Social Structure and Criminal Victimization," Journal
of Research in Crime and Delinquency 25, Feb. 1986, p. 27-52.)."
10. WHAT PEOPLE DO BEHIND CLOSED DOORS IS NOBODY
ELSES BUSINESS - If this is true then why do these same people come from
behind closed doors and expect the rest of society to pay for their 'behind
closed door activity." Certainly, we all concede that you can't legislate
morality, however, you can legislate moral laws. For every law inherently
sets a standard and an expectation of behavior. Recently, Judge Burnette
had a conversation with a local pediatrician who told him that 80% of the
babies born in his hospital, who are on life support, were born to teenage
Some of the costs can run as much as $600,000 per
infant, which of course is passed on to others who are to stay out of their
"business." "We must discourage sexual activity among youth ... The younger
teens start having sex, the more partners they will have which automatically
means they become more at risk for contracting STD's ("Unmarried teenagers
have more partners," CDC, 1991)."
We cannot quickly forget Cushon Williams, who last
October 1997, was arrested for attempted murder. This young man, in his
20's, admitted to sleeping with over 28 women in the New York area while
knowing that he was infected with the AIDS virus. After tracking down these
women, they found that at least 10 were HIV positive, and one was pregnant.
But it didn't stop there. Public Health officials had to track down the
estimated over 70 men who had had sexual contact with Mr. Williams! In
addition, he later confessed to have slept with countless other women in
the NYC area while knowing he was infected.
Instances such as this are not as rare and relegated
to the urban centers of America as it may seem. Recently, Martha, who works
for the Office of Family Planning in the state of California, told me that
an affluent high school in one of the wealthiest communities in our nation
had a similar incident. After a 19 year-old died from complications of
AIDS, it was found out than he had come into contact with, directly and
indirectly, with over 60 fellow students while in high school. Many are
infected and still others are unaware that they may be HIV positive.
When students are informed that when engaging in
sexual activity they are potentially coming into contact with numerous
other individuals, they quickly put things in perspective. "Is what people
do behind closed doorsy else's business.'?" Never have I seen a raised
hand. One girl responds, "you're joking... aren't you?"
After engaging hundreds of thousands of teens across
America, I've yet to receive a negative response from a student (the person
whom this message directly affects). Abstinence can and should be taught
not only as the cornerstone of sex education but as a lifestyle to be mastered.
What plausible argument could anyone give for rejecting the priority of
teaching self-control, self-discipline, and the delay of self-gratification?
Is it possible that we have neglected these necessary life skills?
When I ask teens if perhaps this is true, the overwhelming
majority seems to think so. "Oh, abstinence is always mentioned in class
but the rest of the period is used to show us how to put condoms on and
stuff."..."They say abstinence is the best thing but they don't act like
it when they teach it."... "It's not that we don't want to abstain its
just that no one is showing us how to do it."... "If they say abstinence
is the best thing then why is the majority of class time used to teach
us how to have sex without getting caught?" These are but a few comments
I hear on a regular basis from the many teens I encounter.
Discouraging sexual activity among teens -- not accommodating
it as we have -- should be the priority. Permissiveness and an undisciplined
lifestyle has never, and never will, produce sustained excellence or success.
Much to my surprise I even found an unlikely advocate of teen abstinence,
none other than talk show host, Jerry Springer, who earlier this summer
was thunderously applauded by his audience. He has stated several times,
'teenagers have no business having sex at all!' Even Jerry Springer stumbled
upon this revelation. When will we? [When will America's leaders catch
In conclusion I leave you with this: AFTER BEING
ASKED, "ARE YOU REALLY A VIRGIN?" -- THE THREE MOST ASKED QUESTIONS I'M
ASKED BY TEENS AS AN ABSTIENCE SPEAKER ARE: 1. WHY HAVEN'T I HEARD THIS
BEFORE? 2. WHEN ARE YOU COMING BACK? 3. SO HOW CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION
ON AN ABSTINENT LIFESTYLE?
Members of Congress, I only have the answer to the
third question. I need you to help me answer this generation on the first
Lakita concluded by quoting Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. who said, "We must remember that intelligence is not enough, intelligence
plus character is the true goal of education."
In 1995, Lakita Garth was named Miss Black California
and 2nd-runner up in the Miss Black America pageant.
In addition to speaking to youth across America,
Lakita has also been a guest on several TV shows, including; MTV's Sex
in the 90's, Politically Incorrect, The Image Awards, The American Television
Awards, Nightline, Sally Jesse Raphael, and Montel Williams.
If you ever have an opportunity to meet Lakita or
hear her speak, don't pass it up. Lakita's enthusiasm, intellegence and
wisdom are a treat you'll never forget.
Combine those qualities with "Covergirl" looks and
you've got the recipe for a super spokeswoman. And that's what Lakita is,
she's the voice for a new kind of "sexual revolution," a counter revolution
that says sex is sacred and true love waits.
When Lakita's not working on a new album (she sings
too!) or doing TV Talk shows, she travels the world speaking to high school
and college students about why it's so important to save sex for marriage.
Still single and a virgin, this brainy beauty queen
has re-defined the meaning of the "sexual revolution." Lakita has tons
of tips on dating, great relationships and what you should (or shouldn't!)
do to find Mr. or Miss Right.
On July 16, 1998, Lakita shared many of her ideas
with a United States Congressional Subcommittee where she was invited to
speak about the high cost of pre-marital sex and teen pregnancy.
LAKITA SPEAKING CONTACT -
To book Lakita for speaking engagements, call Ambassador Speakers Bureau at 615-377-9100.