> Many people subscribe to statistics that the slightest intimacy
> between (unmarried) males and females today leads to the bedroom.
> (Rabbi? Dr.?) Isaac Balbin, here
That's simply not true in my experience. In my own experience, having attended a public high school, those who wish to have premarital sex will have it regardless of intimacy between men and women, and those who do not wish to have premarital sex will avoid it regardless of intimacy. There are different kinds of unmarried individuals, who all have VERY different desires and expectations. In my entire circle of friends in high school, I don't know of a single person who had premarital sex, because none of us were the kinds who wanted to have it. We all had plenty of intimate social relationships with female peers, but premarital sex was simply something we weren't seeking. In my senior year, one of my friends had a girlfriend, and not long after graduation, the two were married. This friend of mine knew exactly what he had to do if he wanted to have sexual relations. Anything extramarital was not an option.
In other words: I think that today, most everyone is so habituated to sexuality, that the most important factor is not hirhur / hana'ah anymore (i.e. sexual pleasure and experience, such as seeing a woman or talking to her, having intimate physical or social contact that leads eventually to sex), but rather, your express and explicit intent and desires. My friends who avoided sex had the same hirhur / hana'ah and hergel as those who were having sex all the time. The difference between us was NOT the degree of intimacy or habituation with the opposite sex. The difference was rather, whether or not one consciously desired to have premarital sex or not. For those in my circle of friends in high school, premarital sex was simply not morally conscionable. We very consciously and deliberately eschewed premarital sex, not for lack of opportunities.
The rise in premarital sex is due NOT, I believe, to greater exposure to the opposite sex. Rather, I believe, the issue is that society has accepted premarital sex as acceptable and legitimate. It is not the hirhur / hana'ah or hergel that is to blame; instead, I believe, it is the lack of basic moral censure that is to blame.
Therefore: if we want to reduce premarital sex, I think the most important thing to do today is NOT to dress more tzenua or have fewer social relationships between men and women. This will do nothing. The solution instead, I believe, is to foster a moral environment in which people have firm moral principles against premarital sex.
Every day, a person might have plenty of desire to steal, but he refrains from stealing because it is wrong, period. The objects to steal are all in plain sight; there is no tzniut, and there is lots of hirhur / hana'ah. What stops his theft is not concealing the objects, hiding them from sight, but rather, his moral principles. Nowadays, we must approach tzniut the same way, I believe. Everything is already in sight, and we are used to it. What must be fostered is a refusal to act on the exposure of sexuality, the same way one refuses to act on the exposure of objects on store shelves.
How do we foster such an environment? First, it'd be nice if television shows didn't glorify premarital sex so much. More tzenua billboards would be nice as well. But besides that, I think children need to be taught that premarital sex is simply not a moral option, is simply not legitimate or conscionable. Parents need to have clear and absolute moral principles, and inculcate them effectively. (Easier said than done, perhaps. I'm not a parent, so what do I know?)
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