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We keep telling kids, 'Be destructive but responsible'
Aberdeen American News ^ | 03-17-2002 | Donna Marmorstein

Posted on 03/18/2002 10:22:39 AM PST by jwalburg

A generation ago, some school districts fought backwater parents to establish smoking areas in high schools. Smoking was illegal, tobacco was unhealthy and all that. But kids were going to smoke anyway. Administrators had to lure smokers out of bathrooms and back into class. Suggesting school smoking areas was hip.

It didn't matter that teens puffed away on display as role models, that administrators were ushering students toward emphysema and lung cancer. What mattered was not to be "square." It would be like wearing a narrow tie or a crew cut!

Today, smoking is out. But the same adult attitudes thrive.

The best way to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in kids is to promote condoms. We know because we've been told. By real experts. Those who think differently are "living in a dream world," "religiously repressed," "narrow-minded" or "not looking at the facts."

Kids are going to experiment with sex, and we better face it and minimize the damage, experts say. There is really no other way to look at it, unless you are "living in the dark ages."

Those oppressive dark ages, when one in 20 kids engaged in premarital sex instead of one in three.

Whatever the practice - binge drinking, drug abuse, abortion - someone will always suggest that we just accept it and clean up the associated, peripheral issues.

I once talked to a school employee who said he invited his kids' friends over to drink alcohol in the safety of his living room, so they wouldn't drink and drive.

What a guy!

Such an enlightened, progressive view. It's called defeatism.

We don't expect the best from our kids. We don't even expect decency. They're just human, after all. We can't expect them to practice something as onerous as self-control. So we accept whatever behavior the experts say is normal or unchangeable. Then we draw limits around the lesser evils involved. We later back up and draw new, even lesser limits.

When our measures fail, we say they weren't tried long enough or weren't funded enough, or they need to be tried at younger ages.

The important thing is that we don't stoop to strait-laced, prim ways. Being restrained is SO much worse than getting diseases condoms can't stop: herpes or chancroid or chlamydia. Better to bury a child who loses a "normal, red-blooded, everybody-does-it" chug-a-lug contest than appear prudish about binge drinking.

No matter how many times Smokey says his friends don't play with matches, kids still experiment with fire. It's natural, you know. Kids have a deep need to explore the laws of nature.

Telling them not to play with matches is futile. They're going to do it anyway.

Instead of being so Neanderthal about children's natural fire exploration, why don't we do the enlightened thing? Just accept that kids will play with fire!

We just waste our breath lecturing to them.

Instead, we must teach kids to be safe around fire - water-, blanket- and sand-extinguishing methods, for starters. We should give them flame-retardant clothes. And butane lighters that meet safety regulations. Some lighters produce horrendous burns by exploding or producing sudden flare-ups. Some don't extinguish after use. The responsible thing is to give kids safe lighters, without parental consent.

And don't forget hand extinguishers for those who are conflagrationally active.

When we expect kids to give into whatever urge passes through their minds or bodies at any given time, we can expect a society that rewards degenerate behavior and mocks self-control.

We keep repeating that no act is really wrong; kids just have to do destructive things "responsibly."

If adults keep debasing the standards of behavior that regulate social life, they should not show surprise whenever self-interest or hardheartedness begins to motivate the generation growing up around them.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: bingedrinking; defeatism; safesex; smokey
Fanned Firehood keeps dispensing safety matches, too.
1 posted on 03/18/2002 10:22:39 AM PST by jwalburg
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To: jwalburg
We keep repeating that no act is really wrong;

Adults will stop doing this when they've had enough of cleaning up the messes the kids leave behind. Adults haven't reached that point yet.

2 posted on 03/18/2002 10:44:12 AM PST by A Ruckus of Dogs
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To: jwalburg
Such an enlightened, progressive view. It's called defeatism.

If they don't cater to the students, the students will leave and the school loses that almighty dollar. That's why the majority of the small student portion of the budget goes to sports rather than academics.
They feel "What the heck, liberals will donate cash for their Marxist agendas, and these kids will be gone in a few years anyway. We can blame it on the parents. At least we got our money. Good riddens."

3 posted on 03/18/2002 10:46:54 AM PST by concerned about politics
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