December 20, 2001
Youth group criticizes increased
federal funding for abstinence-only sex education
A story released today by the U.S. Newswire reports that the Senate has joined the
House of Representatives in approving, by a vote of 90-7, over $100 million for unproven
abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. This marks an increase of 25 percent from FY
This increase comes just months after Surgeon General David Satcher's Call to Action to
Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior cited the need for sexuality
education that stresses abstinence, but also provides medically accurate information about
contraception and birth control. Current federal abstinence-only-until-marriage programs
censor critical information about contraception.
"Medical experts, including the Surgeon General of the United States, sent a clear
message to politicians: follow the research, support what works, and stop investing
millions of dollars into unproven abstinence-only-until-marriage programs," said
James Wagoner, President of Advocates for Youth.
"Despite expert findings, our government continues to allocate more taxpayer
dollars for ineffective sexuality education programs," said Wagoner. "Congress
should stop all additional funding until the current evaluation of these programs is
Advocates for Youth is calling on policy makers to take a stand for America's teens and
to support increased funding for realistic, balanced sexuality education that provides
young people with information about both abstinence and contraception.
Advocates for Youth is a national, nonprofit organization that creates programs and
supports policies that help young people make safe, responsible decisions about their
sexual and reproductive health.
Numbers increasing in homeless
A story published today by the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that according to a
study released last week by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the number of homeless
individuals and families has grown an average of 13 percent over the past year.
The study's survey of 27 U.S. cities also revealed that families with children comprise
40 percent of the homeless population. The vast majority, nearly 70 percent, of homeless
families are headed by single parents, said U.S. Conference of Mayors spokesman Andy
The Set Free Shelter has also experienced an upsurge in housing requests over just the
past month, said Set Free Pastor Kirk Overstreet. Since Dec. 1, the ministry has provided
shelter for 131 people, including 45 families.
''The rise in women with children is at least 20 percent over last year,"
To make things worse, charitable donations have fallen off precipitously since the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, he added.
Tri-City Mental Health Homeless Services Director Gilbert Saldate said his agency has
also seen an increase in the numbers of homeless families.
Saldate attributes the growth to the supplies and demands of a tough housing market -
increasingly scarce affordable housing and rising rents. Add to that a faltering economy
pushing more people into unemployment or low-paying jobs, he said.
Surviving the holidays when
An article released today by the San Francisco Examiner reports that surviving the
holidays when your single does not mean alienating yourself when couples and families
around you are spreading the holiday cheer.
"Singles, surrounded by happy couples and loving families during holiday
gatherings, may feel as though they've failed to live up to their own expectations with
regard to finding and forming a loving romantic relationship," says Neil Clark
Warren, author of "How to Know If Someone is Worth Pursuing in Two Dates or
Dr. Warren provides six suggestions to surviving single awareness season:
1. Focus on the positive in your life, rather than what is missing.
2. Spend time with people who love generously, listen carefully and take you seriously.
3. Forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead.
4. Set goals to reach your potential in the New Year.
5. Focus the needs of others, and make a genuine attempt to help them with their
6. Focus on the meaning of the holidays.
Dr. Warren recommends exploring the depths of giving, of unselfishness, of hope, of
getting a hold of the future: "This holiday season can be a time to explore one's
life and make positive changes."
"It is a fundamental psychological truth that when you help other people, you feel
significantly better about yourself." adds Dr. Warren.
Beating the blues this holiday season
A story published today by the Union-News reports that for singles and others who
are newly separated, divorced or widowed or who feel badly about the lack of significant
someone to celebrate with, the holiday season can seem bleak.
"It's a very emotional time and people can feel sad or a little down during
Christmas or on New Year's Eve, as it's milestone when one year ends and another year
Experts say there are things that can be done to fend off loneliness. "If you are
shut in, it's a good time to connect with others by the phone," said Thomas F.
Coleman, executive director for the American Association for Single People in Glendale,
He suggests calling friends or relatives, even if you haven't talked to them for months
or years."Don't worry about calling them at a bed time. If they can't talk, ask them
when you could call back," Coleman said.
'If you don't make calls, you don't get calls back. What you sow, you reap. It can
change the whole picture," he adds.
Churches and synagogues also host activities during the holidays and welcome newcomers.
"There is caroling, pageants. Find a local church, get their bulletin and see
what's going on," Coleman said.
"It's a way to be with people in an upbeat spirit in fellowship
and congregation. People won't look at you and wonder why you haven't been
there before. Instead, they'll be welcoming, especially at this time of year."
Volunteering is another way to give you something interesting to think about and
get you involved with people. "Find out if there is a homeless shelter or
shelter for battered women. When you do something in the spirit of giving, it make
you feel good and also puts you in touch with people who may become friends," Coleman
Leduc agrees that "it's a good idea to take the focus off yourself and
do something for the community."
People who don't want to volunteer or make a commitment may find that donating toys or
a turkey to a needy family or a shelter can boost their spirits. "Use your
imagination to find a place to volunteer at where there are children. Look on bulletin
boards or in the Yellow pages," Coleman said.
Many people have neighbors who they see, but don't really know. Coleman said the
holidays provide the perfect opportunity to invite them to your home for a glass of
eggnog, coffee and cookies, or a drink. "If you don't want to do that, send them a
small gift to break the ice," he said.
Talking to people you meet or work with and asking them what they are doing
on Christmas or New Year's invites them to return the question. "It's an opening for
them to ask you to their home. People may not have a clue that you will be alone, so they
don't invite you to do anything with them," he said.
A story published today by the Economist.com reports that singlehood as
portrayed in movies and television is not that far from the reality of the real world. The
people who now dominate and shape the rich world's city life,are not just in New York and
London, but increasingly in Tokyo, Stockholm, Paris and Santiago. The full article can be
read by clicking to the link below.
Singles shaping the culture and economy
Wednesday, December 19, 2001
Reducing arguments over finances
An article released today by Scripps Howard News Service offers a number of tips for
couples who want to avoid fights over money:
- Pick one person to pay and sort out the bills. This makes it harder for a bill to
slip through the cracks. Late payment fees can add up and cause nasty and heated
-Learn as much as possible about your partner's finances including salary, savings and
credit-card debt, before marriage. This way, you avoid surprises when you go to make big
purchases, such as a car or home.
- Cancel all but a couple of credit cards. Some families have more than a dozen credit
cards, which makes it difficult to track spending.
- Set goals together for your financial future. Just stating certain goals, such as
owning a home or paying for a child's education, can help you achieve them.
-Maintain an emergency fund with at least six months' worth of your combined income.
That minimizes stress if one partner loses a job.
Divorced families and the new
meaning of holiday togetherness
A story published today by the Christian Science Monitor reports that family
togetherness goes with the holidays like nutmeg sprinkled on eggnog. But for divorced
families the holidays can have more humbugs than cheer when choosing where to eat the
Thanksgiving meal, or with whom to open presents.
This is the holiday reality for many households in a nation where the number of annual
divorces first topped 1 million in the mid-1970s, and gloomy statistics reveal that half
of all marriages now end in divorce.
There's no question that divorce tears the family social fabric. But what some families
have come to learn is that divorce doesn't have to continue to be divisive as children
mature and start families of their own.
Human-development and family-study experts offer different reasons for why this
happens. Mediation instead of litigation has become an effective way for divorcing spouses
to learn how to solve problems concerning children. Also, divorce education, a
court-mandated, child-focused class for divorcing parents, has become common practice in
the United States.
"With mediation and joint legal custody, probably now, more than 15 years ago,
there are more divorcing parents that do try to work together for the sake of the
kids," says Larry Ganong, a professor of human and family development at the
University of Missouri-Columbia.
Marilyn Coleman, Mr. Ganong's wife and colleague, says agreeing to cooperate can help
ease tension over the holidays, an anxious time for many people, married or not.
"If people can be more flexible and not worry about the day a holiday falls on -
as if it were magical in some way - then you can adapt so kids don't feel like they are
disappointing everybody by not being [at both parents' holiday celebrations]. That takes
some maturing and distance from the anger in order to do that."
For the past 17 years, Bob Billingham has been teaching a class at Indiana University
in Bloomington, Ind., about the effects of divorce on children. He sees some of his
students get angry when their parents try to reunite for holidays.
"In adolescence and in college, children are trying to sort out their own personal
definitions: What is commitment and what is love? What are relationships and how do they
work? On the one hand," Mr. Billingham says, "[they're pleased when] they see
their parents, who seem to get along as good friends; but the other side of this is, if
you guys can get along so well ... isn't this what marriage was supposed to have been
Charlotte Shoup Olsen, a Kansas State University family systems specialist, offers
workshops with pointers on how all kinds of families can make it through the holidays with
more peace and less disappointment. While divorced families who reunite are relatively
unusual, Ms. Olsen says, the same etiquette applies to them as to other gatherings of
family members: Be willing to compromise; talk about expectations ahead of time; avoid
"hot button" topics; and be respectful of everybody's wants, while not denying
When divorced families mature to the point where they can agree to reunite, family ties
can strengthen, however untraditional they seem. And sometimes when grandchildren start
arriving, the nuclear family tightens, even though it might include new players and
Experts caution, however, that post-divorce family togetherness may not be not for
everyone, and honesty should be carefully considered by all parties involved. "People
should be asking themselves: 'Is this really going to work, or are we pretending?' "
says Billingham of Indiana University.
Sex and the single life
A story released today by SkyNews reports that according to a survey conducted by the
research group 2CV for Translucis, most young adults are faithful while they are in a
relationship , but are eager for one night stands when they are single.
More than half of the single 18 to 24-year-olds questioned revealed themselves to be
rampant bed-hoppers, saying they enjoyed no-strings-attached flings.
A number of those surveyed also claimed to have had at least six casual partners in the
previous six months alone. And one in 20 said they had slept with between 10 and 20
partners over the same period.
But nine out of 10 from the same age group insisted they never strayed when going out
with someone regularly, giving the break-up of their parents' marriage as the main reason.
The survey also revealed that men were almost twice as likely as women to be
They were also more likely to sleep with their best friend's partner, the survey of
more than 1,000 people revealed.
2CV's Darren Hanley, said: "The survey reveals an interesting conflict between
attitudes held by this age group according to their status as single or involved.
"Fidelity is the biggest issue for those in a relationship, and many take a highly
moral stance towards the issue."
Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Family-friendly benefits in the
workplace often leave out the single workers
A story published today by the Chicago Tribune reports that single workers have always
been given the added burden by companies to work on holidays and do more overtime compared
to other employees who are married or have children. And when those single workers
requests to leave early or take unscheduled time off, permission is almost always
"They come down really hard on us," said one Chicago hospital worker.
"It's not fair."
"This issue doesn't surprise me, and what's going to happen, as more and more
companies downsize and staffing gets tighter, there may be even less equity," said
Mary Young, senior research consultant at the Center for Organizational Research, a
division of Linkage Inc., a training and organizational consulting firm in Lexington,
Some 40 percent of the workforce is unmarried, according to estimates by Thomas
Coleman, an attorney and executive director of the 1,300-member American Association for
Single People, a nonprofit organization based in Glendale, Calif. Coleman's definition of
"single" is "anybody who's not legally married."
"Workers who don't have children or a legal spouse literally are being cheated by
employers when it comes to benefits and other workplace policies. It can add up to
thousands of dollars a year and is reflected in health-care policies, child-care
deductions and even retirement. It's as if you fit the right lifestyle--married with
children--you'll be rewarded."
Coleman advocates benefits plans that are on a cafeteria basis. "Let employees
choose what they want to do."
As for flexible working hours, he encourages recognizing that even if you don't have
children, you may be responsible for elderly parents or have interests you want to pursue.
"But we're making progress," the AASP executive director said. "Things are
Employers, too, are aware of the resentment some singles feel. "Companies are
inviting backlash if they don't look carefully at their employee demographics," said
Richard Federico, vice president and work/life practice leader at The Segal Co., a
benefits consulting firm based in New York. "But many benefits today are for
everyone: fitness, recreation, tuition reimbursement, financial and estate planning, elder
care and volunteer time off."
Federico has a solution to this problem, however. "The point I always make to
employers is: Do some research," he said. "Just ask employees what their needs
Marriage: an institution in flux
A story released today by the Fox News reports that according to a new survey done by
MORI on the state of marriage in Britain, the seven year itch really does exists. But
women get itchier than men.
The MORI poll of nearly 1,000 married adults for the Reader's Digest was hailed by
relationship experts as an insight into changing roles.
When asked "Have you ever wished you could just wake up one morning and not be
married any more?," one in five wives said yes, as opposed to one in seven husbands.
Twice as many wives as husbands, at around one in seven, also said that they wanted to
"live on my own for a while." Again, the biggest danger period for this feeling
was around seven years, along with the first year of marriage.
By contrast, a third of men, slightly more than women, said that they wished they could
spend more time with their spouse, and men aged under 34 were particularly worried about
not seeing enough of their wives.
Men were also more likely than women to say that they wished they could ask their
partners to be more affectionate, and talk more about their sex life.
Denise Knowles, a relationship counselor for Relate, said that the findings were a
snapshot of an institution in flux.
"What we're beginning to see is an pendulum swing, with lots of men wanting to
talk about emotional things, while women become less family orientated," she said.
There is, however, an optimistic note. While 6 percent of husbands and wives dreamt of
having an affair, double that said that they aspired to own a dog. By the time a couple
were middle-aged, the wish to own a dog was nearly five times greater than the temptations
of a lover.
"This is an excellent sign, because a dog represents a life of stability and roses
around the door. It's really romantic stuff," said Ms Knowles.