This page contains news for
the period Monday, December 13, 1999 through Sunday, December 19, 1999.
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Sunday, December 19, 1999
behavior as a teen, rather than her later divorce, may predict problem behavior of her
A story published today by Eureka Express,
based on a press release from the American Medical Association, reports that new research
suggests that divorce, in and of itself, does not necessarily lead to children's problem
behavior. Rather, the research paper concludes that a mothers' delinquency prior to
marriage predicts divorce 14 years in the future and accounts for many of the behavior
problems found among children after divorce.
As the story notes, many politicians and others keep asking about
the effect of divorce on children? Do children of divorce experience problems because of
the divorce, or was the children's problem behavior present before the marital separation?
The new study, "Delinquent Behavior, Future Divorce or
Nonmarital Childbearing, and Externalizing Behavior Among Offspring: A 14-Year Prospective
Study," published in the December 1999 issue of the American Psychological
Association's Journal of Family Psychology was written by Robert E. Emery, Ph.D., Mary C.
Waldron, Ph.D., and Jeffrey Aaron, Ph.D., of the University of Virginia; and Katherine M.
Kitzmann, Ph.D., of the University of Memphis.
The study is based on the authors' review of data on 1,204 mothers
and their children drawn from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY) -- Child
Sample. The NLSY research began in 1979 and assessed young men and women (ages 14-21) on
demographics, education and employment. Various psychological measures were also taken of
the participants, including self-reports of delinquent behavior. By 1986, 3,322 of the
women in the study had given birth to 5,876 children. Assessments of these children have
According to the story, the authors found that the female
adolescents' delinquent activities in 1980 significantly predicted their divorced status
in 1994. In addition, the mother's current age, as well as her age when she had her first
child, were both related to children's externalizing behavior, such that younger mothers
had children who exhibited more behavioral difficulties. Also, a mother's delinquent
behavior as a teenager --abusing drugs, being delinquent at school and having contact with
the criminal justice system -- was positively correlated with her age when she had her
first child and her poverty status in both 1980 and 1994.
The link between a mother's prior delinquent behavior and her
child's present problem behavior (defined as antisocial behavior, anxious or depressed
behavior, social withdrawal or engaging in high amounts of parental conflict) remained
strong even when the mother's current marital status and other demographic factors were
taken into account statistically.
As a result, the authors conclude, parents' personal behavior and
personality characteristics have a larger impact on their children's behavior than does
their married, never married, or divorced status.
"Parental antisocial behavior is a good
candidate among a host of behavioral and personality variables that might lead to
nonrandom selection into single parent status and, thereby, explain the association
between divorce or nonmarital childbirth and children's behavior problems," write the
authors. The authors suggest that there are factors that "predispose families to both
divorce and to having troubled children."
The study did not track the behavior patterns of fathers
when they were teenagers, or the effects of such behavior patterns on their children in
Friday, December 17, 1999
court denies lesbian visitation rights to child of former partner
A story published today in the Chicago Sun
Times reports that a the Illinois Appellate Court has ruled that a Georgia lesbian has no
legal right to visit her former lover's daughter.
"Amanda," who never had adopted the child, claimed she was
a "common-law . . . parent" based upon her relationship with "Helen,"
the 5-year-old girl's biological mother.
But Justice John N. Hourihane upheld a Cook County court decision
ruling that "Amanda" had no legal right under Illinois law to visit the child,
who lives with "Helen" and her husband in a Chicago suburb. It was the first
case of its kind in Illinois.
The story notes that "Amanda" and "Helen" never
were identified by their full names in court records.
"Amanda" is "completely heartbroken since she faces
the prospect that she may never see her daughter again," said her attorney, Heather
Sawyer of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund.
"Helen" was "relieved that the court's decision
allows her to make decisions about what is in her child's best interest and with whom she
should associate," said her attorney, Leon Finkel.
Whether an unmarried partner should get visitation rights to a child
who is not biologically related is an issue that must be decided by state legislators,
"This court is not unmindful of the fact that our evolving
social structures have created nontraditional relationships," he wrote. "This
court, however, has no authority to ignore the manifest intent of our General
The story says that during their nine-year relationship,
"Amanda" and "Helen" decided to have a child, so "Helen"
became pregnant through artificial insemination. "Amanda" attended the birth and
helped raise the child while they were living in Georgia.
When "Helen" and her daughter moved to Chicago,
"Amanda" continued to support the child. When the girl was 3 years old,
"Helen" married and terminated all contact with "Amanda."
Association rejects abstinence-only sex-ed programs
A story released today by U.S. Newswire
reports that a group known as Advocates for Youth has applauded the American Medical
Association (AMA) for taking a stand on the effectiveness of school-based condom
The AMA has adopted a position against sex education programs which
rely solely on the promotion of abstinence until marriage. It favors abstinence-plus
programs which teach birth control methods along with the promotion of abstinence.
The story says that the AMA's policy acknowledges the reality that
70 percent of all teenagers in the United States have had sex by age 18.
Citing congressional programs that prohibit information on
contraception, Advocates president James Wagoner condemned the politics of censoring
sexuality education. "Ignorance is nobody's ally in the era of AIDS. What politicians
need to realize is that denying young people critical information about contraception is
not only naive and short-sighted, but irresponsible and dangerous," said Wagoner.
The story says that the AMA position has reinforced what various
studies and extensive research have already shown, that comprehensive sexuality education
-- which teaches about both abstinence and contraception -- is the most effective sex
education for young people. Those who receive this kind of education are more likely to
begin having sex later and to use protection correctly and consistently when they do
become sexually active.
Wagoner called on politicians to stop allowing their political
agendas to censor sexuality information from teens. "Despite high numbers of teen
births, HIV infection and teen abortion rates; despite the scientific research that shows
what works; Congress is still denying our young people critical information about
contraception that could protect their health and save their lives," said Wagoner.
"This is a classic case of U.S. politicians putting their agendas before the health
and needs of our young people. And it has to stop," he continued.
"The research is clear. Young people need information about
abstinence and contraception. It's not either/or -- they need both," said Wagoner.
The story says that Advocates for Youth is an international,
nonprofit organization that creates programs and supports policies that help young people
make safe, responsible decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
Thursday, December 16, 1999
that large cities have higher unmarried birth rates
A story released today by U.S. Newswire
reports that babies born in the nation's top 50 cities are more likely to be born to
unmarried women than the national average.
In the average large city, 43 percent of total births occurred to
unmarried women, compared to a national average of 32.4 percent. In the cities, that
percentage ranged from a high of 71.6 percent in Detroit to a low of 24.5 percent in
The study, Kids Count Special Report reviewed birth certificate data
for more than 750,000 babies born in large cities in 1997. The report is the first
comprehensive study of large cities based on data drawn from birth certificates.
Detroit leads U.S. in unwed
A story published in the Detroit News reports
that according to a study to be released today, Detroit led the nation's largest cities in
births to unmarried mothers in 1997.
While 43 percent of the births in the 50 largest U.S. cities are to
unmarried mothers, nearly 72 percent of Detroit's children were born out of wedlock,
according to the most recent Kids Count report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
"Wow, that's a staggering difference," exclaimed Dr.
Ganesh Konduri, a neonatologist at Children's Hospital of Michigan, who has treated many
Konduri is one of many experts who believe that, while single
motherhood itself is not necessarily harmful to children, the poverty that often
accompanies it is.
Studies show that children who grow up in poverty are more likely to
have health problems, drop out of school, get pregnant as teens, commit crimes, join the
welfare system or fall victim to other social ills.
"A single mother is more likely to be poor based on the fact
there is only a single income," he said. "There is limited access to health care
and prenatal care. There are a number of problems that could come up during the pregnancy,
like hypertension and diabetes, that could lead to problems for the baby."
Jane Zehnder-Merrell, senior research associate at the Michigan
League for Human Services, which helped compile the Kids Count report, said Detroit's high
rate of out-of-wedlock births should not be attributed solely to teenagers. Births to
teens have declined in Detroit and Michigan during the '90s.
Many believe Detroit stands out in this statistic because of
economics and the lack of good paying jobs. Detroiters aren't getting married because they
can't afford to raise families, but they haven't stopped having sex.
Detroit City Councilman Nicholas Hood III, pastor of the Plymouth
United Church of Christ, believes a large number of the out-of-wedlock births are not
"I've talked to a number of women, and they still have maternal
instincts and they have indicated to me they want to have a child. They wanted to be
married but felt the prospects weren't there," he said. "Some of the people I've
spoken with are proud they are having children."
Hood attributes the large numbers to a lack of marriageable men,
particularly in the African-American community. He sees a correlation between the high
number of African-American men in prison and dying from violence and the high number of
"There is a shortage of African-American men to
women," he said.
Wednesday, December 15, 1999
appeals court to review constitutionality of sodomy law
A story published today in the Roanoke times
reports that or the first time in 20 years, a Virginia appellate court has agreed to
review the constitutionality of a state law that makes oral sex between consenting adults
Earlier this week, the Virginia Court of Appeals agreed to hear the
appeals of nine men convicted of soliciting sodomy during conversations with undercover
police officers posing as gay "cruisers" in Wasena Park.
The statute, referred to as the "crimes against nature"
law, applies to all consenting adults, whether heterosexual or homosexual, who engage in
oral sex in public or in private.
"I'm just optimistic that the Virginia appellate courts will
not begin the 21st century by doing something that no state appellate court has done in a
decade, namely, to uphold a sodomy statute that criminalizes all oral sex
indiscriminately," said Roanoke attorney Sam Garrison, who represents the nine men.
The three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals will hear arguments
According to the story, legal observers say the mere fact that the
intermediate appellate court agreed to hear the case is encouraging news for those who say
it is time for Virginia to join the growing list of states that have abolished their
In a 45-page petition to the Court of Appeals, Garrison paints the
case as not just a gay issue but one that affects "the fundamental right of 4.5
million adult Virginians to be free from governmental intrusion into areas where they have
a reasonable expectation of privacy."
The appeal challenges Virginia's centuries-old law on several
grounds: that it violates privacy rights guaranteed by both state and federal
Constitutions; that it is based on religious grounds and thus violates the separation of
church and state; and that its potential five-year prison sentence subjects defendants to
cruel and unusual punishment.
Thirty years ago, all 50 states had laws that forbade consensual
oral sex. Today, Virginia is one of 17 states with such a law still on the books.
Divorce rate high among bible
A story released today by ABCnews.com reports
that for couples who decide to marry in Oklahoma, their chances of spending their lives
together are among the worst in the nation.
Oklahomas high divorce rate is particularly embarrassing for a
state that is mostly Christian, in which 70 percent of people go to church at least twice
"Its not good," says Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating,
"and its embarrassing and its inexcusable and it certainly should not
survive." Religious leaders agree.
"Our faith certainly teaches that divorce is not a good
thing," says Anthony Jordon, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of
Oklahoma, "that marriage ought to be held sacred. And there is a wide gap between
faith and practice. And, yes, I take some responsibility for that."
The story says that part of the divorce-rate problem is that couples
get married so young. For example, Shannon Vater was married at 20, divorced at 23.
"This is the Bible Belt," Vater says. "There is a lot
of social pressure, and a lot of family pressure is the main thing. You dont want to
disappoint your family or make your family look bad in front of the community."
As the story points out, there is pressure from the church
especially when a baby is on the way. For instance, Erik Thomas was 22 when he got married
and it lasted only three years.
"We started dating and she became pregnant and felt that the
best thing to do was to get married," Thomas says. "The right thing to do, of
course, for a guy when he gets a girl pregnant is to marry her and take care of them. We
gave that a shot."
Oklahoma State University Professor David Fournier says youth and
pregnancy alone help explain the states high divorce rate.
"Nationally, we know that the younger the couple at the time
they get married, the higher the risk later," Fournier says. "If you add
pregnancy to that, the numbers go to 90 percent chance of not making it. People change
tremendously from the time they are 19 until the time they are in the mid-20s, and
its really tough on a marriage to go through those personal changes as well as job
changes, education and other things."
The article says that Oklahoma couples tend to have short
engagements, often with little or no premarital counseling from the church.
"We knew it was the right thing. I mean I got the heavenly
message and she was the one for me," one teenage groom says. "I knew right when
I met him," his young bride says. "Im more mature for my age than a lot of
people are. So, I knew."
"I discussed it a couple times with my pastor
and he says, What are you waiting for, do it! So that was all the
premarital counseling I needed, I guess," says the young groom.
Tuesday, December 14, 1999
considers lives of married and unmarried women in New Jersey suburbs
In a series of three articles beginning today,
the Star-Ledger explores the lives of married, divorced and single women who live in the
suburbs in New Jersey. The paper conducted a series of round-table discussions with women
in various parts of the state.
The participants were selected by the paper from those who responded
to its survey last month asking readers to assess their sexual attitudes and relationships
in the context of living in suburbia. Though they represent a range of life experiences,
maturity levels and sexual preference, the women who were interviewed said they felt the
suburbs present challenges to finding and building relationships, even though they enjoy
its safety, open space and sense of community.
Single and divorced women told the paper they long for more places
to socialize, and bemoan the traveling distances from one place to another. Married women
said they are sometimes frustrated with being stereotyped.
To read the full story on the roundtable discussions:
* with the single women, click here.
* with the divorced women, click here.
* with the married women, click here.
One-third of U.S. schools push
abstinence and criticize birth control
A story released today by the Associated Press
reports that in one school out of three, American teenagers are not just encouraged to
abstain from sex, they are taught that abstinence is the only appropriate option and that
birth control is too risky to bother with. The story is based on to two national surveys
which were released today.
These "abstinence-only" policies teach students that they
should wait until marriage to have sex. The policies leave out any discussion of birth
control to prevent pregnancy or transmission of HIV and other diseases except to
talk about the shortcomings of such methods.
The story notes that most other schools have chosen
"abstinence-plus" programs that discourage premarital sex but suggest the use of
contraception for students who choose to have it anyway.
Abstinence long has been promoted by conservative and religious
organizations who argue that talking about birth control sends teenagers a mixed message,
suggesting that premarital sex is really acceptable. The welfare overhaul legislation that
President Clinton signed in 1996 included a five-year, $250 million program for
Today's reports are the first to document how widespread
abstinence-only programs have become in American schools, which are a central source of
The first survey, by the Kaiser Family Foundation, asked secondary
school principals about their sex-ed programs and found 34 percent had abstinence-only as
the main message.
The second study, conducted independently by the Alan Guttmacher
Institute, surveyed superintendents about district policies and found 35 percent of those
with policies teach abstinence as the only option.
These programs can be found across the country, but they are most
prevalent in the South and least common in the Northeast.
"We teach that abstinence from sexual intercourse outside of
lawful marriage is the expected social standard for unmarried, school-aged persons,"
said Stephen Pryor, spokesman for the Mobile County, Ala., public schools. The district,
he explained, follows the mandate set by the state.
According to the story, 15 states require that schools teach
abstinence until marriage, and 13 require lessons about contraception. Some require both.
Most schools include a discussion of both abstinence and birth
In 1995, 66 percent of teenagers reported having sex by the time
they graduated from high school.
The Guttmacher study suggests that school districts have moved
closer to abstinence education in the past several years. While there was no net increase
in the number of districts with abstinence-only policies, many districts moved from a
policy that made no value judgment about abstaining from sex to one that promotes
abstinence as the preferred option.
Research about the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs has
been inconclusive, partly because they have not been around long enough to allow for
rigorous research. There is some evidence that abstinence-plus programs can help prevent
The story says that most Americans seem to support programs that
promote abstinence and give information about contraception. A 1997 poll by the National
Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy found that 95 percent of Americans say it is important
for society to send teens a strong abstinence message. But just 22 percent of people said
teens should not have access to birth control.
U.S. found to have highest teen
birth and abortion rates of all industrialized nations
A story released today by U.S. Newswire
reports that the results of a recent study tour to the Netherlands, France and Germany by
Advocates for Youth found that the rates of HIV/AIDS and teen births and abortions
drastically lower in those European countries than in the United States.
The United States has 13 times the teen birth rate of the
Netherlands, 25 times the gonorrhea rate of Germany, and three times the teen abortion
rate of France.
The tour found that these rates are so much lower in these countries
because of Europe's realistic and healthy attitude toward sex. Sexuality information and
confidential contraceptive access is widely available to young people there.
The story notes that despite these staggering numbers, Congress
continues to throw more taxpayer money into sexuality education that teaches abstinence
until marriage as the only way to prevent HIV and teen pregnancy.
According to James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth,
"Ignorance is nobody's ally in the era of AIDS. What the United States needs to
realize is that denying young people important information about contraception is not only
naive and shortsighted, but irresponsible and dangerous. The research is clear. Young
people need realistic, accurate sexuality education which includes information on both
abstinence and contraception."
Advocates for Youth is an international, nonprofit organization that
creates programs and supports policies that help young people make safe, responsible
decisions about their sexual and reproductive health.
How unmarried co-owners can
avoid problems if they break up
A story published today in the Orlando
Sentinel discusses problems often faced by unmarried people if they buy a house together
and then later break up.
The article focuses on a Florida couple as an example.
Jim Martin, an executive of Disney's Animal Kingdom, loved the
two-bedroom house he purchased in Colonialtown with his partner for $107,000 on Halloween
1997. With its wooden floors and fireplace, the home was so dear to him that he resisted
ending his relationship with its co-owner.
"I was very attached to the house," Martin told the
Sentinel. "My biggest fear in the relationship was I would lose the house."
The story notes that Martin is part of the nation's fastest-growing
segment of buyers - singles. And, like Martin, many of those buyers have learned that they
don't have to be married to have a nice house. By pooling their down-payment cash and
income with a friend, relative or significant other, they're able to pack up their
apartments and move into permanent addresses.
As the first generation to share property deeds but not marriage
licenses, unmarried couples are forced to tread carefully through the purchase process.
The law doesn't look out for them the way it does for a husband and
wife. For instance, when one spouse dies, the widow or widower becomes the owner of the
house under the most common type of house title, joint tenancy with right of survivorship.
But when a single homeowner dies, the roommate may be left out in the cold.
And when a married couple divorces, the settlement determines what
happens to the house. But when an unmarried couple breaks up, the question of
homeownership can become a free-for-all.
In Martin's case, the reasons to get out of the relationship
eventually outweighed the need to keep the house. In March, he and his partner decided to
break up. They put the house on the market and waited. Martin said sharing the space after
the breakup was awkward "but not horrible."
Although the two "got along after we broke up, we really needed
to get out of the house," Martin said.
The story says they sold the house in August for $20,000 more than
they had paid for it. Martin, who had the most invested in the house, used the sale
proceeds to pay off the debt that had accumulated in the past few years.
As the article notes, not all unmarried co-owners are so lucky. They
can end up bickering over repair costs, closing expenses and moving arrangements. One can
split, leaving the other unable to pay the mortgage. Then, both of their credit reports
can become ruined.
The key to two unmarried people buying a house together is to
resolve any problems before they arise, Orlando attorney Tom Olsen said. Plan for the
worst-case scenario even when the relationship seems everlasting, he said.
First, buyers should decide who will own the house. Olsen said one
of his clients was engaged to be married and wanted to purchase a house with her fiance.
Even though her parents paid for most of the down payment, she wanted her fiance to be
included on the title of the house as a co-owner.
Olsen advised against it.
"I told her, `Look, since you're coming up with the bulk of the
down payment and there's always room for things to go wrong, let's put it in your name.
You can always add his name down the road.' "
Of course, telling a bride-to-be to plan for the demise of her
relationship can be a little cold.
But Olsen said unmarried buyers should have a plan in case things
don't turn out as they had hoped. He said it's like signing a prenuptial agreement, which
determines what the husband and wife are entitled to if they divorce.
Though the woman decided to keep the house in her own name, some
couples insist on having both names on the title. In those cases, the story suggest that
unmarried co-buyers should consider several ownership options.
They can purchase the house and hold title as tenants in common.
Under this form of ownership, the property is owned collectively. If one person dies, the
decision about what will become of the house will be determined in the deceased owner's
last will and testament.
They can hold title as joint tenants with right of survivorship.
Under this title, the survivor becomes the sole owner. The survivor must still pay monthly
mortgage bills and is entitled to the equity. It's similar to the way the law treats
Unmarried buyers are increasingly opting for a partnership
agreement, said Orlando attorney Barry L. Miller, who owns the Closing Agent title company
in Orlando. He said 25 percent of his company's business is with unmarried couples.
The document is a road map detailing how an eventual house sale
would be organized. It can determine who would pay for expenses, the mortgage, taxes and
utilities. In case one of the owners would want to buy out the other, the agreements
typically have provisions for three appraisals to determine how much one partner must pay
to purchase the other partner's interest in the house.
In case the unmarried co-owners would ever split apart and one would
be left paying the mortgage, the agreement may call for the buyer who did not pay the
mortgage to give up part of the proceeds of the sale.
And if one of the buyers would ever be left paying the mortgage for
six months, the agreement may call for the house to be listed for sale. To save on
possible attorney fees, the agreements can call for the two owners to go to legal
mediation and then arbitration to resolve problems without going to court, said Miller, a
state-certified court mediator.
Of course, not all unmarried buyers establish the ground rules ahead
of time with a partnership agreement. When two such owners break up and one wants his or
her name taken off the deed, they can file a suit for partition, said Olsen, who has a
radio program on real estate law.
"That means that any one of the owners can go to court and
force the property to be sold," Olsen said.
As the article points out, such ugly endings may be the last thing
on a couple's mind during a budding romance.
"In the beginning, you never want to think that
something will fail . . . but the saddest thing is when you have to sell or help someone
sell a house they really loved," Miller said.