Carol Platt Liebau: How Bad, Indeed?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Bad, Indeed?

Froma Harrop makes a strong point in discussing the recent news that a Portland, Maine middle school would start giving contraceptives to 11-13 year olds, even without parental permission:

Helping girls obtain birth control could to some degree "normalize" sexual activity for kids in the single-digit grades. Girls will observe a classmate "putting out" for the coolest boy in school. If the school nurse helps their friend get birth control pills in furtherance of that activity, how bad could it be?

But she goes on and charges that unnamed "conservatives" don't want to pay for the kind of programs that would be entailed in a "discplianarian" approach. The problem is that she sees such an approach including some fairly radical measures. But for starters, couldn't everyone agree that -- if necessary -- the families of the underaged faathers of these babies be called upon for child support. And even more, who, on either side of the political spectrum, opposes prosecuting older men for statutory rape when they're impregnating 13 year old girls?

But in a sense, the entire discussion is a little like arguing about how best to pull drowning children out of the water. What would be better is keeping them from falling in, in the first place. And one important step in that effort is working to change the culture, so that young girls don't grow up believing that it's normal, appropriate, and even expected for them to have sex, long before they're ready for any of the commitments -- from marriage to motherhood -- that sexual activity implies.


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