The major consequences of sex before marriage include the problems of disease, premarital pregnancies, single mothers and fatherless children. Since 1960 in the United States, ‘out of wedlock births have skyrocketed 511 percent, and the percentage of single-parent families has more than tripled’ (Human Life Review, Spring-Summer 2000).
In Europe ‘the proportion of French babies born out of wedlock rose from 3 percent in 1975 to 33 percent in 1996. In England and Wales 28 percent of all births in 1990 were extramarital’ (Angus McLaren, Twentieth-Century Sexuality: A History, 1999, p. 213).
Life is much more difficult for teen mothers who have babies. The fathers of those infants are generally not in the picture, having abandoned the girl or providing little or no help. ‘Having a baby outside marriage makes getting married later much more difficult and much less likely. Having a baby before finishing high school makes parenthood and education a bigger challenge’ (Linda Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage, 2000, pp. 199-200). One result is that single mothers and their children are far more likely to live in poverty.
When teenage boys (and young men, as is often the case) take advantage of teenage girls and the girls become pregnant, bitter seeds are sown at an immature age. The girls are then forced to deal with pregnancy, devastating emotional consequences and often abandonment before they have even begun to experience some of the best life has to offer. Their own children are in turn at greater risk for out-of-wedlock pregnancies. One reason for this is that they, too, typically begin having sex at a much earlier age.
Also disturbing is a study of the female prison population in the United States that found that ‘more than half are single mothers living on welfare’ (Daniel Amneus, The Garbage Generation, 1990, p. 224).
Children born out of wedlock are also at greater risk for abuse. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that ‘children of single parents had a 77 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical abuse, an 87 percent greater risk of being harmed by physical neglect, and an 80 percent greater risk of serious injury from harm or neglect than children living with both parents.’
For children of unwed mothers, live-in boyfriends and other sexual partners can prove deadly. The Heritage Foundation recently reported that, of the 2,000 children killed each year, more than a fourth are victims of live-in boyfriends. Many, however, are not killed outright. Each year thousands more suffer life-changing, crippling injuries.
Again, many of the most heinous incidents occur at the hands of a mother’s boyfriend in what has come to be known as shaken-baby syndrome. This is a term used to describe the injuries that result from the violent shaking of a child or infant, often resulting in brain injuries from the baby’s head being jerked and snapped back and forth. The damage inflicted can range from relatively minor injuries to mental retardation, coma and death. An estimated 20 percent of such injuries are inflicted by live-in boyfriends. GN