Target Without a Bulls-Eye

November 12, 2007

My father's dart board hangs in the garage unused. A great rainy day game, years ago we could happily pass hours waiting for the sky to clear. A steak on the grill under the eaves, a football game on a television to the side, and a dart game for the commercials...good memories of good times.

Like all things from the past, it is amazing to see what modern technology has done with a simple game we once played on a 14-inch paper target with plastic red and yellow darts. The Hot Seller at boasts 5 bright LED lights and comes with both soft tip and steel tip darts. With 210 variations of 37 games, you will never lack for a partner. The Halex CricketView Dart Board Package features Cybermatch, letting you play against the computer.

Modern technology has done a lot to update the game of darts. But one thing hasn't changed. At $219.99, complete with computer partners and LED lights, the Halex Dart Board still has the familiar scoring system around the edge funneling in to a small precious bull's eye at the center.

Bull's Eye! This exclamation first evidenced itself in print in 1825, being used to describe much more than the center of a target. Broadly speaking, "a shot that hits the bull's eye" is, according to Webster's, "something that precisely attains a desired end." You succeeded because you were focused on "something central or crucial."

Life is like a good game of darts. You can set out, throwing darts all day, all week, all year long, and here and there, you will certainly rack up a fair number of points. But if you want to play the game to win, life works much better when you are aiming for the bull's eye.

No wonder today's kids are having such a rough go at the game of life. Raised in the modern age of relativism, the bull's eye has been painted off the board, leaving a game with no focus, with nothing "central or crucial."

A report appearing in the Journal of Adolescent Health sheds light on a tragic example of life without a bull's eye. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation studied in detail how California teens ages 12 to 16 interpret abstinence and sexual activity. Their results will make your eyes pop.

According to the study, 12 percent of the children believed they were abstinent if engaging in sexual (vaginal) intercourse. For 14 percent of the youth, anal sex was considered abstaining. More than 44 percent considered genital touching an abstinent behavior, and 33 percent believed oral sex qualified as abstinence.

These teens have done a great job of learning what they have been taught. On the popular advice column posted by Columbia University, a student asks Alice, "I have a question from my college sexuality class: In what behaviors can one participate and still be sexually abstinent?"

Alice responds, "To some, abstinence is not having any type of sexual experience. To others, it means not having oral, anal, or vaginal sex. Some define abstinence specifically as not allowing penetration or not having vaginal or anal intercourse, but believe that oral sex is acceptable for them to give or get."

To clarify, Alice offers up concrete examples. She advises this student that "with a partner" she can try "window shopping"...or "taking a shower." Tomorrow the student and her "partner" might enjoy "picnicking in the park"...or they might "cuddle, caress, or stroke each other with fingers, lips, and tongues, with or without clothes on." Either this...or's all abstinence.

And just to make sure there is no confusion, Alice wraps up her 500-word description of sexual abstinence with this guiding light, "It's important to think about what abstinence means to you, and then to live by that belief (until you choose to change your mind, rather than changing it in the heat of the moment). [underlining added]

Ask Alice at Columbia University is not an aberration. She is representative of comprehensive sex education programs.

"In California," explains Valerie Huber, Executive Director of the National Abstinence Education Association (NAEA), "96 percent of schools teach comprehensive sex education, and according to a recent report in the California Journal of Health Promotion, there has been 1.1 million new STD cases reported in Californians ages 15 to 24. A careful review of the most popular comprehensive sex education curricula reveals that it leaves definitions for abstinence up to the discretion of the individual student. It is not surprising that teens loosely define the term and end up acquiring an STD as a result."

Without a bull's eye to define sexual abstinence, the results of the study by the Pacific Institute are completely understandable. No bull's eye. No need to aim.

The stake in a game of horseshoes, home runs, uprights or darts is points, and it is senseless to play the game without a target to aim for.

The stake in the game of life Why be surprised at the tragic results of the game of life if we hand our children a target without a bull's eye?

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Copyright ©2007 Jane Jimenez