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2006 Abstinence Essay Contest 2nd Place

Jessica Knab, an 11th grader at Charles B. Aycock High School is presented with 2nd place by Kristin Mcintosh-Tri of the Wayne County Health Department Health Education Program. Jessica will be a rising senior at Charles B. Aycock High School in the 2006-2007 school year.

She received a $500 college scholarship, $100 gift certificate to Berkeley Mall, $5 gift certificate to McDonalds, a T-Shirt that says "I'm worth waiting for", and a certificate of Recognition for 2nd Place.

The Best Choice for Teens in Preventing Teenage Pregnany

I am a sixteen year old teen, and yes, I do practice abstinence. Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one. This doesn't bother me so much because I don't let the peer pressure get to me. I live by the cliché "your body is a temple." I also keep a picture of my parents in my head. I've seen the hardships that come along with premarital sex, and I do not want to have to deal with that.

"Your body is a temple, so treat it that way." I'm sure most everyone has heard this at least one time. Now, take that wonderful little cliché and think about it, pick it apart, and analyze it. Alright, now get into the mindset that you're a temple, any temple you want to be. You can be any size, shape, or color, so long as you are your own individual temple, because every person is individual and has their own characteristics. You are a temple. Do you really want just any person to enter? Hopefully not. Think about the sort of people that you want to allow. Shouldn't they have to earn their way in? Do you want people to enter before it is fully constructed, before it is ready and prepared to have people inside? I know if I was a temple, I'd want it to be totally beautified and mature enough to handle the people that come in. I want the people to be worthy of my temple. I want to respect them and I want them to respect me. And they must be patient. They have to understand I will not let them walk on my floors until I feel it is ready, until I know who they are, and what they are about. They will not be allowed to enter until they are worthy of my temple, which may take years, so they must be prepared to wait. If I feel they are impatient at all, I will push them away. Building the perfect temple takes time and effort, and I do not want to be rushed, especially by someone who does not deserve to wander inside. Right now, my temple is still under construction, like my peers around me, though some of them don't realize this. Or, perhaps they don't respect it enough to let it mature and beautify to its fullest. I just remember to stop and consider who I'm letting into my temple because it could be a major life alteration in the end with huge consequences.

Another more practical reason, I suppose, that I choose not to have premarital sex is because of my parents. Not just because they've given me "the talk," or because they're involved in my life and know what's going on, but because as teens they chose to make a poor choice. I was born on August thirteenth and my parents wed approximately a month afterwards on September sixteenth. So, if you do the math, obviously my parents didn't make a very good decision. My mother was eighteen and my father was nineteen. Soon after I was born he joined the military. Although I can't say I actually remember the struggles and the hardships that went on, I know it had to have been tough. They've told me many stories, about how they would pay all their own bills and have perhaps twelve dollars left over for two weeks until pay day. Or how they went for over a year without ever eating out and when they finally had money they went to Hardee's and it was one of the best days ever. They told me about the run down trailer they had to live in and all the "interesting" people they got to meet. During these years I was not neglected by any means. I was very well taken care of, I never went hungry and I always had decent clothes. They did almost everything on their own because by the time I was 6 months old they had moved out and were on their own. They weren't just in another house; they were in a whole other state hours away from their parents. I believe my parents are lucky because they got through it all and are still together. Many couples are not this lucky. My parents were lucky enough to have supportive parents and motivation.

Now, you may be thinking all that was in the past and I have no remembrance of what it was like. So why would it affect me in the present day. It affects me today because there are still side effects. We recently moved to Goldsboro in October and I know it was hard for my mother to find a job. When she was eighteen she had just started college, but because of poor choices she had to drop out so she could take care of herself and the little one inside of her. I think it's a lot harder for an adult to find a job without a college education. Yes, I know it's possible to find a decent job without one, but it's much harder. In addition to affecting the household's income, it can cause awkward feelings in a conversation. Sometimes when discussing my family with others, we start to compare and contrast our parents. Then the dreaded question comes up, "how old are yours?" And then I have to tell them because if I don't they'll pester me forever until I do. Once they find out their age they do the math and they get sort of quiet sometimes. Then they have to say "Whoa, your parents were really young when they had you, were they even married yet?" And the conversation may go on for a little bit like this, making me more uncomfortable by the second. So as you can see, practicing abstinence can make your future so much easier in the long run, and may save your children from feeling uncomfortable for your poor decisions.

I know I can't prevent my peers from engaging in premarital sex, but perhaps this essay could cause a spark in everyone's minds, and have a bit of an impact on Goldsboro, North Carolina. I practice abstinence because I'm smart and I know it's the right thing to do, even if I'm the only one. Also, I respect my body and realize that no sex is safe sex, no matter what. I have a lot going for me now, with amazing parents and mentors, so why would I want to screw that up? I know I'm better off then some and I'm lucky to live the life that I do, and I shouldn't take it for granted. I know in the long run that it will pay off, even if it's in the distant future. I don't want to have to struggle to pay the bills, and I don't want my children to have to feel uncomfortable because of mistakes that I may make. I feel that if other teens' parents were more involved like mine, they might think before they act a little bit more because I know I do. Just keep in mind that you are your own magnificent temple and it deserves the utmost respect.