Thursday, September 6, 2001
Stable Families Reduce Likelihood of Teen Sex-Not Only in the U.S.
A study recently released in Great Britain offers further evidence that family stability and good parent/child communication reduces the likelihood that teenagers will engage in premarital sexual activity. The report, entitled, “Does Your Mother Know?-A Study of Underage Sexual Behavior and Parental Responsibility,” was compiled by the Family Matters Institute (FMI) for a Parliamentary task force known as the Lords and Commons Family and Child Protection Group, headed by Gerald Howarth, MP. Over 2,000 13-15 year-olds were surveyed between November 1999 and March 2000 to determine what factors have contributed to Great Britain’s extremely high rate of teenage pregnancy-the highest rate in western Europe. According to the report summary, “When parents are married, show practical concern for their youngsters, monitor their activities and set behavioural guidelines, they create a family environment in which teenage sexual activity is dramatically reduced.” In addition, teenagers with parents who are religious and set clear moral standards are also far less likely to be sexually active. Researchers also found that the presence of a strong father in the family is of critical importance in protecting children from early sexual activity and in helping them to form stable relationships with the opposite sex in adulthood. Copies of the report are available from the Family Matters Institute for 5 ($8), plus postage.
Federal Labor Law is Behind the Times-Especially for Women
According to at least two reports published recently-by the National Center of Policy Analysis and the Heritage Foundation-federal laws governing overtime pay lag far behind the realities of today’s workforce. The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of 1938 established a federal minimum wage and 40-hour workweek with an overtime pay rate of 1.5 times the rate of regular pay. At the time (1940), 67 percent of households were “traditional” in terms of working arrangements-the father was the primary breadwinner and the mother stayed at home. The assumption behind the FLSA was that a “living wage”-enough for a working man to support a family-was the appropriate standard. Today’s workplace is vastly different. Today 61 percent of women age 20 and up are in the workforce, and 46 percent of the overall American workforce is female. Furthermore, in 1950 less than 3 percent of families were headed by a single mother. Today they comprise 12 percent of family households. Women today are working longer hours, too. Between 1976 and 1998, their average weekly hours increased 42 percent, and the proportion of women working overtime increased from 14 to 21.6 percent. Despite their increasing role in the workforce, however, women continue to be the primary caregivers in families, and many accept so called “pink collar” jobs at lower pay because of the flexibility they offer that other jobs do not, largely due to federal wage policies set by the FSLA. Proposed reforms to the strict overtime provisions of the FLSA-such as giving employees the option to choose comp time or more flexible work schedules-have foundered in the past due in large part to opposition from labor unions and other organizations, including the National Organization for Women. This is despite overwhelming public support. 75 percent of all workers and 81 percent of women workers favor comp time measures, for example. Congress is being urged to revisit such proposals in order to give families a wider range of choices for work arrangements.