Rant commences in 18.104.22.168.1….Springfield’s in the news again. Not only is it a city with one of the highest crime rates in MA (it’s one of the most dangerous places to live in the Northeast), it’s also one of the cities with the worst performing schools. Apparently the city fathers are also concerned enough about the high teen pregnancy rate to propose that condoms be made available in the middle schools to children as young as twelve. Other than absolute disgust, several things stand out in my mind right now: 1. A twelve-year-old is not a teenager 2. Handing out birth control to anyone under the age of consent is clearly encouraging and enabling statutory rape. 3. Schools have no business involving themselves in this type of family matter.
The Viking and I have chosen to disagree on this issue; and our debate this evening was quite spirited. Bless his heart, he does make some good points. For example, he thinks it’s a good idea because “an ounce of prevention’s worth a pound of cure.” There’s way too many idiot parents out there who either set a bad example themselves, or who are too disinterested or exhausted to give a damn if their twelve-year-old is knocking boots with the 16-year-old down the street. Isn’t it better, he says, if the school gives out the birth control-because then its one less potential baby in the welfare mill? According to the article in the paper, 30% of the preteens interviewed in Springfield were sexually active. (I’m horrified!) He thinks that since these kids parents aren’t stepping up then hey, at least the school is.
So I see his point, however I disagree completely with the idea of basically giving a twelve-year-old cart blanche to engage in activities that should be kept strictly between consenting adults in a loving committed relationship. Plus, supervising and controlling your children’s activities is a parental obligation the school ideally should be assisting the parent not assuming and usurping the parental role. Enough of that goes on as is.
Did you know that your child’s health care providers are not obligated to tell you anything about your child’s medical condition(s) once your child reaches a certain age (12/13/14) if the child does not want you to know? And yet, we parents are legally responsible for said child and their actions until age 18, AND we are paying for their medical insurance and care…. Said child is not legally considered capable of making informed decisions , and we still are not entitled to know a thing. Even the best parents are an emasculated lot these days. Allowing schools to hand out birth control only contributes to weakening parents’ roles and the scope of parental authority. The school nurse certainly isn’t going to tell Johnny’s mom and dad a thing. HIPPA ensures that, unfortunately.
Of course, there’s far too many parents who would be only too happy to allow the schools and others a greater role in the raising of their children. Sad, but true. Like I’ve said before-you should have to pass a test and get a license before being allowed to become a parent. It’s a solemn, joyous privilege and a heavy obligation. Like marriage, child rearing should not be entered into lightly or irreverently. Parents need to provide not only food and shelter but guidance and love in order to help their children set their own moral compasses. This means (gasp!) setting rules, boundaries, limits, and providing structure. It means work, very hard work my friends. Years worth of sleepless nights, tears and arguments. Maybe hearing your kids yell that they hate you. Or worse. Toughest job in the world. Horrible hours. No pay. But- incomparable, wonderful benefits and rewards for those who put the effort in.
But with regard to the issue at hand – it also means that the PARENTS should be setting the limits and telling their kids UNEQUIVOCALLY that it is NOT OK to be engaging in underage sexual activity – and that a high price will be paid if they do. (Those damn consequences again!) It means parent getting involved with their children’s lives, and knowing what they’re doing – and with whom – as much as possible. Then, stepping in if necessary. It means keeping lines of communication open with your children, and assisting them to make good, healthy, morally sound decisions. That’s your JOB Mom and Dad. Its what you signed on for when you had children and kept them to raise yourself. No school has any business handing out birth control to any underage student. Schools are there to provide education to our young people so they can better themselves, & learn to make informed decisions. It’s the parents responsibility to provide the moral guidance and direction. Schools working WITH parents is best. But frankly, this particular issue is best left to the families to deal with. This concludes my evening rant. Thank you, that is all…