NCSY (National Council of Synagogue Youth), the youth organization of the OU (Orthodox Union), has announced a website-based program to convince teenagers that sexual activity before marriage should be avoided in the interests of their physical, emotional and religious well-being.
The announcement of the new program stated that it stemmed from NCYS's deep disturbance at the fact that "teenagers, including Jewish teens, are increasingly engaged in sexual experimentation."
The website-based program (www.negiah.org), uses frank language to convey the risks faced by young men and women engaging in sexual experimentation. Articles are categorized according to four types of risks, as explained by text writer Rabbi Jack Abramowitz: Physical bodily dangers, mental and emotional hazards, negative impacts on one's life; and negative impacts on one's soul.
Explaining his approval of the program and the terminology it employs, OU Executive VP Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, a clinical psychologist, said, "NCSY works with teenagers where they are. Its advisors know the culture of the Jewish adolescent population firsthand, because of the climate of trust and openness that they inspire. I think it is fair to say that they know what is really happening among our teens at least as well, if not better, than many parents, rabbis and educators."
"Engaging in sexual activity before one is truly ready... can have REAL emotional consequences," the website says. "Some of these may pass; others can even affect your marriage years later." These dangers include stress, guilt, loss of self-respect, a sense of betrayal, anger, depression, stunting of personal growth, and regret.
The NCSY leadership has "become convinced," Rabbi Weinreb wrote, "that the only effective response to this troubling state of affairs is a comprehensive educational program in the modality (i.e., the Internet) and language to which our teens best relate. Thus, NCSY has developed this program, aimed to urge sexual abstinence among our children."
The announcement states that Rabbi Hershel Schachter, Rosh Yeshiva (Dean) at Yeshiva University, and Jewish-legal consultant for OU Kosher, approved the program, noting that the language was straightforward but not so graphic as to render it too unsuitable for observant teens to read.
Approval has also been given by medical and mental health professionals, the OU states, including David Pelcovitz, Ph.D. and David Hurwitz, M.D.
NCSY acknowledges that "in our sex-drenched culture, deciding to abstain can be easier said than done. It may be hard, but you will find that abstinence can be far more rewarding than you imagine. Abstinence doesn't just happen by itself, and just saying 'no' isn't much of a strategy. You have to think about it, plan a course of action, and stick to it." The program then provides strategies for success.
Key sections of the program include pregnancy, dangers of disease, how to achieve real commitment without the dangers of sexual experimentation, the correlation between sexual activity and suicide rates, Biblical role models such as Joseph, family purity, and more.
Rabbi Steven Burg, National Director of NCSY, expressed pride that NCSY "is the first organization to address this issue specifically as it pertains to Jewish teenagers."