All They Need Is the Love Clinic

A Dallas program helps kids to say no to sex and drugs
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When asked what pressures weigh on him the most, the sweet, angelic boy looks away. His smile gives way to a faint look of disbelief. He shrugs his shoulders. The answer is embarrassingly obvious to him.

"You know," Chris Lewis says. "Fast girls."

Lewis is not a longtime sex addict. He's just an honest 14-year-old African American boy from a Dallas public school. Lewis doesn't say whether he's given in to these "fast girls." If the most recent Centers for Disease Control's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance study is any indication, 29.9 percent of black boys engage in sex before they are 13 (compared to 14.2 percent of Hispanic boys and 7.5 percent of white boys), and 75.7 percent do so before they graduate from high school.

The girls sitting by Lewis, Monisha Randolph, 17, and Daketha Ward, 15, nod their heads knowingly, admitting that they also have felt the tug of Eros prematurely. Of African American girls, 11.4 percent engage in sex before 13, and 66.9 percent before they finish high school, the study says. Randolph and Ward also throw drugs, alcohol, and smoking in the mix of vices that allure them.

"If you're around that stuff all the time, you're tempted," Randolph says.

But thanks to a smart program called the Love Clinic, kids like Lewis, Randolph, and Ward find it easier to elude these lures.

"You can tell some teens about abstinence from sun up to sun down, but they're still going to have sex," says Dr. Sheron C. Patterson. Preventing teenage pregnancy is one of the reasons why she founded the Love Clinic, an institute designed to foster healthy relationships among African Americans. In some ways, Patterson resembles Dr. Laura—if you add grace and love for Christ, and subtract the combativeness. Her realism dictates ...

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