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Ed Gaunch, Joey Holland: W.Va. does need to talk about teen sex

Believe in West Virginia is made up of local residents who are concerned for the youth of our state.

We agree with Truett Cathy, the CEO of Chick-fil-A, who said, "It's easier to build boys and girls than to mend men and women."

So when there is a problem affecting our kids, we need to act together as a community by helping to encourage and educate them, which will hopefully allow our young people to make wise moral choices.

There are certain issues that need special attention, and our organization believes that teenage sexual activity is one of those issues.

As you may have seen recently, Believe in West Virginia sponsored a guest speaker to speak at a couple of local high schools on the subject of teenage sexual activity.

The speaker we helped bring in, Pam Stenzel, gives presentations to over 500,000 students a year on the topic of sexual abstinence and the potential costs of being sexually active.

While sex among high school-aged students is not a new problem, in West Virginia it is continually becoming more of one.

In 2009, West Virginia was the only state in the entire country that showed an increase in teen pregnancy, as reported in the Gazette-Mail. In 2012, West Virginia ranks in the top 10 states for teenage pregnancy, according to United Health Foundation's America's Health Rankings website.

Teen pregnancy isn't the only challenging outcome from sexual activity among high school students. Many students contract sexually transmitted diseases that they could carry for the rest of their lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of US high school students have had sexual intercourse, and almost 10 million people who contract a new STD each year are between the ages of 15-24.

Undiagnosed infections cause 24,000 women to become infertile each year, according to the CDC.

While everyone may not have agreed with the tone of the speaker, we do believe that she accomplished her purpose: Students are talking about the issues.

She also has a book entitled "Nobody Told Me." Certainly,  none of the students who heard her speak will be able to say that.

We hope this presentation and the subsequent media coverage of it will help open some dialogue between students, school faculty, health care providers and parents - and perhaps even encourage students who are sexually active to get tested for STDs.

Sponsoring this program and other events that promote abstinence education are just a few of the activities that our organization facilitates. Our main goal is to be a Christ-centered, prayer-motivated economic development group.

We know that the economic future of West Virginia hinges on our young adults making wise, informed decisions that will set their lives on a path for success. This is why we sponsor activities like the recent seminars at George Washington and Riverside High Schools.

We hope students and parents will continue to talk and pray together about life-altering decisions like sexual activity.

For those who would like more information on Believe in West Virginia, please visit our website at

Gaunch is president of the board of Believe in West Virginia, and Holland is a member of the board.



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