Show our children that it’s alright to say ‘no’

When I was at school, most of the teenage boys were engaged in a race to see who could be the first to lose their virginity.

Looking back, I think most of the teenage boys were engaged in a race to see who could be the first to boast to their mates about the event – which was in many cases a figment of their over-active imagination.

Now, sadly, it seems that many boys – and girls – don't need to make it up.

A recent survey has found that 22pc of 16- to 24-year-old men and 27pc of 16- to 24-year-old women admitted to having had sex before they hit 16. One in 10 people of the same age have had 10 or more sexual partners.

These figures are reported as if they are shocking. But you only have to look around you to understand why we are going from bad to worse.

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Sex is portrayed as nothing more than an act, rather than an expression of love and commitment.

No perfume advert is complete unless it has two people pawing each other, while the X Factor could sometimes be renamed the Sex Factor, if the contestants' disappearing dresses are anything to go by.

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Meanwhile, celebrities who our children look up to are splashed across newspapers, boasting about the number of their conquests. And their behaviour becomes something to aspire to, not to frown upon.

Everywhere we turn, our children are faced with the message that sex is something to get, like a Wii games console or the latest Call of Duty game.

Schools, some parents and – most influentially – the pervading culture have a 'when, not if' attitude to teenage sex.

It is assumed that young people are going to do it, so the education around the subject is built upon that assumption, and therefore is largely about making sure you are safe when you do.

The liberal-minded people whose determination to give everybody 'freedom' and to ride roughshod over the concept of sex as an emotional expression of connection and genuine commitment do not have the answer to the problems that they have created.

The freedom that they wanted to impose on others has heralded a harvest of teenage pregnancies and social and emotional damage among young people.

Their philosophy of breaking down moral boundaries leaves young people confused and vulnerable. It brings diseases and depression.

And the knock-on effect of breaking the moral compass is broken marriages, as unfaithfulness abounds. You see, children need to have boundaries, and they need to know that it's okay to say 'no'. Which is why I have a radical proposal to put to all you parents and carers out there.

Why not raise your children to cherish their virginity, and to swim against the tide of popular culture and peer pressure? Why not encourage them to wait until they have met their partner for life and are – wait for it – married?

For me, this philosophy is drawn from Christian values, which have been ridiculed, sneered at and sidelined. And we can now see the results of laying them aside so readily.

You may not share my faith, but why not buy into the values?

Let's make ourselves positive role models for our children, showing them that monogamy and marriage are to be admired, not ridiculed.

Our schools are not going to do it for us. And popular culture is going to continue to draw back the veil of decency. So, ultimately, it is down to us.

•This article was first published on December 20, 2011.

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