Ms. Faucher is the President of the Rosetta Foundation. Its purpose is to research Generation Y and develop effective methods of communicating the pro-life message.
National surveys and polls have periodically determined the positions of individuals on the pro-life issue. But until recently, no one has endeavored to determine exactly when these positions are established. Two completely different types of studies have now revealed that pro-life or pro-abortion values are solidified at a very early age. Ascertaining this knowledge provides us with the key to truly creating a culture of life in America.
Aaron White, PhD, is a researcher at Duke University Medical Center on adolescent brain development. Over the past several months, discussions and communications between Dr. White and the Rosetta Foundation have confirmed that pro-life or pro-abortion values, like other values, are established between the ages of 10 and 20. Science has now proven that, unlike previous thinking, the brain continues to develop between the ages of 10 and 20 and that this is the time period when values and habits are established which will be taken into adulthood.
Dr. White states:
The brain you get as an adult is the brain you wire as a teenager, according to the latest research. So be careful about the patterns of thought and behavior you establish in adolescence – between the ages of 10 and 20.
Because for good or ill, your brain is deeply influenced by such patterns and may well adopt them as default settings for the rest of your life.
That could explain why some people emerge from their teenage years with a sense of purpose and others dont. Or why some adults enjoy exercise and others dont. Or why some struggle with overeating or become dependent on tobacco, alcohol or drugs and others dont.
The experiences we have in our teen years are so very powerful, if you become an expert in calculus in high school, chances are for the rest of your life youre going to have superior math skills.
As the growing teenager begins to form habits of thought, behavior and speech – as choices are made and certain avenues in the brain take precedence over others – those paths become established while the unused ones shrivel to the side.
So a lot depends on nurturing the teen with a healthy environment thats populated by peers and adults who model good choices.
Dr. White’s primary emphasis is on the impact of alcohol on the teenage brain, but the research by Dr. White and his colleagues is extensive. This same wiring applies to other behaviors, decision-making, beliefs and values. Dr. White is in total agreement with the importance of Life Issues Institutes efforts to reach Generation Y to establish pro-life values through its interactive CD-ROM, Truth Unmasked.
Just think about your own memories of childhood. Why is it you can remember your high school years with such nostalgia and clarity but can’t remember what you did last week? It’s because these memories are more embedded into your brain during that critical time period.
Dr. White’s research also explains the results found during national polling in 2003. Responses to survey questions in diverse parts of the country indicated that almost all respondents had held their pro-life or pro-abortion beliefs for as long as they could remember; i.e., always.
When you combine the research by Dr. White and his many colleagues with the 2003 polling results, it becomes abundantly clear that pro-life values are established in those all-important pre-adult years and, with few exceptions, stay with you throughout your adult life.
This new information places a far greater emphasis on reaching teens (Generation Y) during the critical age of 10-20 when these values are being established. It is our greatest opportunity to actually change the future by wiring in pro-life values at this significant point. We already have a very receptive audience. Even the New York Times was astounded over the increasing pro-life leanings of Gen Y. They are intelligent, inquisitive, want the facts, and are accustomed to getting information instantaneously through their computers.
By 2012, all 60 million Gen Y youth will be of voting age. By solidifying pro-life/pro-family values with them now, their beliefs and actions as adults can totally change the social and political landscape of this country. In addition, these more positive values can be passed on to their own children as well.
The Rosetta Foundation’s focus is on reaching Generation Y on the life issues and sharing their knowledge with other pro-life groups to help in their communications with this demographic.
A predominant part of this outreach will be via a new website which will focus on building confidence, self-esteem, good character and wise decision-making. The website will provide factual information and assistance on issues affecting their lives, such as pregnancy, abortion, adoption, abstinence and relationships. It will also include issues related to post-abortion syndrome and early sexual activity, depression, drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, eating disorders, etc.
Generation Y now ranks #1 in computer users and time online, exceeding even the 35- to 49-year-old business users. As 99% of all public schools now have Internet access, these young people have access to computers both at school and at home. Further, their Internet use crosses all ethnic lines.
Unfortunately, however, pro-abortion organizations have also identified the need for computer access to these young people and have already established sophisticated websites with specific appeal for Generation Y.
Planned Parenthood has extensive websites broadcasting their anti-life agenda. For example, their web magazine for teenagers, Teenwire.com, has been recognized with awards for Best Kids’ Website and Best Health Website.
The largest website focusing exclusively on teenage girls, gURL.com, was reaching 9.4% of all girls between the ages of 12 and 17 by 1999. Clearly, pro-abortion organizations and abortion clinics have been only a click away.
The pro-life movement used to be concerned about providing school libraries with a balance on topics like abortion. Now it is far more important to provide a balance on the Internet. When teens are asked how they would get information on the topic of abortion, the unanimous answer is always, “I’d turn on my computer.”
Teens get almost all of their information via their computers. When they want to know about abortion to end a pregnancy or write a school paper they simply type in the keyword abortion.
But what they find is sometimes shocking and discouraging. Google will produce 4.3 million websites on the topic, and Yahoo will provide 6.2 million more. Everybody’s there, but who gets the teen visitor?
Obviously no one is going to check out that many websites. It’s usually only the dozen or so on the first page that get attention. More often than not, it’s only the first two or three at the top of the page.
If you check out this first page listing of websites, you will quickly see that it is predominantly made up of hardcore pro-abortion sites; i.e., pro-choice.org, abortionclinicsonline.com, naral.org, and many more. Somewhere on this first page you may find one or two occasional pro-life sites competing for the teenage eye.
Why the disparity? Is it discrimination? No, its much simpler than that. The pro-abortion groups have more money to bid for the highest rank on the list. That’s right, bid. This is how the search engines make their money. In order to compete for the top billing on certain expensive keywords like abortion, teen abortion, etc., the search engines have a bidding system. The website which is willing to pay the most per click for visitors interested in that word is the one in first place. The second highest bidder is in second place, and so on. With their more limited financial resources, the pro-life sites are often simply outbid by their pro-abortion opponents.
This is why the Rosetta Foundation will keep its focus on reaching Generation Y through the Internet. We are determined to take on the abortion clinics and outbid them. The reality is that if we’re not willing to enter the bidding war with the pro-abortion sites to help these teens, they win by default.
Complete details of the Rosetta Foundations new Generation Y website will appear in the fall issue of Life Issues Connector.