We have a very serious problem in the public health scientific community. Its model of youth development that shapes public policy is failing visibly in critical areas.
It is high time that this policy-shaping our youth be guided by science-well-done. Lives are being wasted. Diseases are running rampant. Nations are dying. Economies are weakening, being starved of young workers who start the new families of the next generation, all because of the influence of this model.
Two world class institutions champion this model. The first is Sweden’s social welfare/cultural ministry-youth policy/foreign office. The second in Atlanta, GA, is the Center for Disease Control. Its Division of Adolescent Health (DAH) directs US national youth policy on all matters sexual.
Both Sweden and CDC/DAH are highly professional, are generously funded and have long-stablished policy and research centers with enormous prestige and influence across the globe. Their models have been adopted by the UN and the World Health Organization.
Yet both are failing seriously; very publicly so.
Competing with the Swedish/CDC model is the natural law model, embraced by hundreds of millions, from many different religions, across the globe. At their core, the Natural Law Model and the Swedish/CDC Model differ in their view of the sexual nature of man.
Each leads to very different sexual outcomes such as the fertility and STDs outcomes focused on here. The Swedish/CDC model has a bio-tech based strategy (dependent on contraception), the other is nature-compliant model (a “green model” if you will) that relies on education and relationships to form superior sexual attitudes and habits. It has for two millennia rejected biotech approaches to sexual behavior because they alter human attitudes, thinking, feeling, interacting and behaving.
As covered in recent blogs Sweden’s fertility strategy works well in driving down fertility rates but not in restoring them once they go below replacement — a spreading and most dangerous phenomenon with more nations joining these ranks yearly.
CDC’s failure is most visible in STDs, with the United States most infected state for HIV right outside its back door. We have covered this before in earlier an blog. California has many STD epidemics raging for years now, mainly among youth. There are other areas of failure, but this is the most concrete and visible.
The time has come to vigorously challenge these “culture incubators” (Sweden’s words not mine). To challenge, not with rhetoric or policy impositions but in the data. Other models of youth culture exist each with its own positive outcomes. The model at the other end of the spectrum from the Swedish/CDC model is the traditional Christian one (or the natural law model), a model followed by millions of families across the US, across Europe and the world. It is a robust and hallowed model with a different but proven track record. It is a worthy model to yield clear contrasting data outcomes that can inform the decisions of all whether they embrace the model in its totality or not.
The Suggested First Step
Form two social science teams of world ranking caliber, each to represent the case of its model and ensure proper use of the data commonly available to both teams (so there is no argument about data sources). Both teams would critique each other’s method prior to undertaking their studies. This will keep both sides honest and also increase the quality of the work.
Why do this.
The closed-shop-science of Sweden and CDC is failing in fertility replacement and in STDs control and diminishment. These are not the only issues of concern in youth policy, but both are public and pressing. The need to find much better solutions without resorting to “more money for more of the same” is urgent. Doing fundamental research is the first step in a sound strategy. The honest way is to foster robust challenges to each model. Both sides will learn a lot from each other – the purpose of the square-off.
The public needs to be informed, not manipulated. Crises can come as quickly as the COVID-19 pandemic or gradually as with the looming fertility crisis which moves at a glacial pace but also with a glacier’s flattening power.
A well-informed populace tends to make better decisions over time. The closed-shop monolith model used by Sweden and Atlanta is not leading to a well-informed citizenry, but to an institutional complacency that is visibly dangerous.
The Needed Areas of Comparison
There are key outcomes that will shape the final judgement on which model works best. Because each model will have its own favorite outcomes and both sets need to be measured by all. Here are some key measures that the natural law / traditional Christian model would want measured:
- Incidence of monogamy vs other numbers of sexual partners.
- Sexual restraint during adolescence (chastity / abstinence) as an ideal to be striven for.
- Life-long marriage as a goal.
- Frequency of religious practice.
- Financial costs each model incurs, personal and public.
- Educational attainment levels.
- Degree of intactness of the family
- Sense of community belonging.
- Sense of family belonging.
- Degree of isolation/ anomie.
Some of the outcomes by which a model is rated superior or inferior to the other include:
- Fertility rates
- STD rates
- Virginity at marriage
- Number of sexual partners
- Fidelity within marriage
- Longevity of marriage
- Rates of divorce
- Children living with both biological parents
- Out of wedlock births
- Health of the female reproductive system/ organs
- Male sexual health
- Male sexual self-control
- Male sexual violence or abuse
- Female sexual violence or abuse
- Offspring as victims of violence or abuse
- Intergenerational family intactness (marital stability across generations)
- Rates of anxiety or depression in childhood, adolescence, middle and old age
- Educational attainment
There are other outcomes that the Swedish/CDC model will want to add.
These two crises (fertility and STDs) make visible the need for a world class face-off that will enrich the social sciences and show citizens how to influence their children’s behavior. It is time for the competition to begin.
For the good of the child,
Pat Fagan Ph.D.