Update: 10/21/07: Speaking of Moral Outrage...
I am both astonished and enraged to find that my words from this post have been taken out of context and posted on a site that seeks to loosen statutory rape laws to make it easier for adults to have "consensual" sex with minors. I would voice my opinions on their site, but I simply will not sign up for a membership to a website whose purpose and content I find morally reprehensible. At least they had the decency to link over here. Maybe one or two of those readers will find out how I define moral outrage.
I am in no way in favor of their agenda. It is my opinion that teens should not be having sex at all, hence my disgust with the Maine school district preparing to distribute birth control pills to students as young as 11 years old--yet another idiotic strategy that will make young girls easier for adults to exploit. In fact, I'm completely against any sex outside of marriage.
The "Moral Outrage" site seeks to change laws so that people can claim that they did not know the age of the minor with whom they had sex, after they get in trouble with the law for doing so.
Don't give me that "I didn't know she wasn't 18" crap. If you kept it in your pants until you were properly married, you wouldn't even have the problem.
In the post below, my purpose is to clarify nature of the ongoing degradation of our culture's moral fiber. I consider increases in teen sex to be a symptom of this disease. This post is meant to be a call to adults to exercise their authority over their culture and their children, so that we can fix the problem. I note that teenagers, especially middle school age do a lot of stupid, destructive things, whether or not we want them to. Careless sex is one of them. On the other hand, so is drunk driving, but that doesn't mean I have to hand them the keys.
'nuff said. Enjoy my original post below.
I have been a middle school student. I have (briefly) spent time as teaching at a middle school. I have even been a substitute at that level. Such experiences have laid quite bare to me the numerous ways in which we as a culture (and thus our media and our schools along with us) have failed my own generation, and the ones that have come after it.
This is why I am rarely surprised anymore when I hear about twelve-year-olds having sex. Say what you like about how unbelievable it is, or about how they are too young. It should be unbelievable. They are far beyond too young. That doesn't keep it from happening. That's why some middle school bathrooms are closely monitored by school staff members.
I am, however, astonished to hear about this happening in a classroom, with other students watching, and acting as lookouts to keep the teacher from being aware of the situation. In light of such things, I'd say the controversial surveys of sexual behavior in kids that age are not as off base as some people think they are. If this can happen in a classroom, think of what is happening in private. It's easier to combat the worsening trends if we have data.
There are a number of issues I could comment upon here. Class size in a lab setting, for instance. Or classroom management. But, one of the reasons many in my profession prefer to teach high school kids is that middle school ones are, despite their shorter stature, much harder to manage, especially in large groups.
Middle school kids will say things to each other that most adults, and even many teens would be embarrassed to say in public. (I could give examples of one or two things that were said to my face when I was that age, but, as I said, such things are usually not the stuff of polite conversation.)
Kids in early adolescence have the impulse control of two-year-olds, and the hormones of, well, teenagers.
Couple that with extreme desire to either gain attention, or conform to the group, you can get some pretty evil little conspiracies.
Now, granted, the worst I have personally come across is a class full of kids conspiring to make the day a misery for their substitute teacher. (Being a substitute teacher in junior high ought to be worthy of a congressional medal for bravery.)
But that they would conspire to do worse is not as far a stretch as one might think.
So when I hear that two sixth graders were able to have sex in shop class, with the aid of their peers, and under the very nose of an experienced teacher (And believe me, anyone who is able to stay in middle school long enough to be "experienced" either knows and enjoys what he is doing, or can't find another job.) I am shocked at first, but as the shock wears off, it begins to make sense to me.
We live in an increasingly permissive and fractured society. Families are falling apart at higher rates, and more children are seeking disordered sources of comfort. Children are exposed to sexualized imagery and behavior at younger and younger ages. I often see 12 year old kids watching R-rated movies, frequently with their parents present. Last summer I saw what appeared to be a four year old girl toddling around at the zoo in a mini skirt, bare midriff top, and knee-high boots (Her mother was even worse). When I was in sixth grade, people were already starting to have boy/girlfriends. Ten years later when I began my student teaching, kids that age were reported to be performing sex acts in bathrooms, or while they are home alone after school waiting for their parents to get home from work. It gets a little more out of control every year.
Classrooms are the next logical step.
This is a wake up call for us. We adults have a responsibility to be careful what we expose our kids to, to know what they are hearing about from the culture, their schools, and their friends, and a duty to counteract negative messages unequivocally, no matter when our kids receive them. We can't avoid the discussion by sticking our heads in the ground and saying they're too young to hear about this at age 11 or 12, when they already have heard. We can't dress our young daughters up like Paris Hilton or Christina Aguilera, but expect them to grow up to be sexually well-adjusted. Sex is not supposed to be a spectator sport. But pop stars, Bratz dolls, reality TV, and other such rubbish are teaching our kids otherwise from a very young age, even without our permission.
Wake up, everyone. Believe it or not, it can still go further downhill from here.
The Courier Mail