After years of working with married couples who were struggling in their relationship, he discovered that so often the troubles were rooted in the mistakes that people made during their teen years.
Other research shows that each day 8,000 teenagers in the United States will become infected with an STD, with more than 3 million teens becoming infected this year alone.
(See Note 1 below.) Popular Christian campaigns like True Love Waits -- a program that encourages teens to pledge that they will remain virgins until they get married – are not enough, Di Marco said.
“What used to be happening in high school is now happening in eighth grade,” Di Marco said.
Even Christian teens are not immune to the rampant sexual temptations bombarding their generation.
But parents would never imagine that these things are taking place.
“It just seems atrocious, so parents don’t want to believe it,” Di Marco said.
In some cities she visited, teens told Di Marco that a rite of passage from eighth grade into high school was attending a “rainbow party” – a gathering where girls apply different colors of lipstick and provide oral sex to the boys in attendance.
One of the most common misconceptions that teens have, Di Marco said, is that oral sex is harmless and not really considered to be sex at all. Most teens do not realize that oral sex can transmit many of the same STDs that can also be contracted through intercourse.
The solution, she said, is for parents and youth pastors to take a more active role in teaching teens God’s standards and design for sex.
This often means learning the slang terms that teens use for sexual acts and being willing to broach uncomfortable topics.
Di Marco said that many of the teens she hears from grew up in good Christian homes but still gave in to sexual temptation in their dating relationships.