Parental Authority

I was disgusted this week while listening to news reports about the decision in Maine to allow birth control to be dispensed to eleven year olds without parental knowledge.  When I finally heard more details, learning it was a school health center and that children could only visit after parents consented for the initial visit my reaction was tempered, but only slightly.

I was still annoyed by the reference to these children as young women.

Contrast this with the crime show I viewed while sitting with my son at the Urgent Care.  The story was about the kidnapping of a seventeen year old throughout the program the host referred to her as a child, a little girl, and all I could think about was those veritable babies in Maine.

I understand there are parents who fail, but when are we going to stop undermining the ability of decent parents?  Society tells us to keep our children in line, yet dangles every temptation in front of them, chastises those of us who decide to shelter them while impressionable, tsks tsks nearly any effort at discipline in public, and then howls with outrage if they run wild.

Make up your minds.  You cannot have it both ways.


#1 Rachel on 10.21.07 at 3:35 pm

Heather, I can understand that parental impulse (as well as a non-parent can, I guess). I worry, though, about those middle schoolers who are having sex, and obviously can’t drive to the health department and don’t have a job to afford care. If they can’t talk to their parents, what will they do? I don’t think good family relationships can be forced, although I can understand hoping that these kids will talk to their parents. I checked the CDC data (2005) on risky youth behaviors, and they found that 6.2% first had sex prior to age 13, ranging from 4.0% for whites to 16.5% for blacks. Now, this is kid-reported data, so there is probably some wiggle room. I just remember that in my middle school, some girls were still surrounded by stuffed animals, but others were getting pregnant. I don’t know what the answer is, but I’d rather sexually active young people not get pregnant than get pregnant. I think it’s a tough issue, and just wanted to toss it out there that many of those kids probably would be sexually active and wouldn’t talk to their parents about it with or without the school nurse around offering prevention. Hope you receive this comment in the discussion mode it’s meant to be, not as argumentative.

#2 JanetLee on 10.21.07 at 5:36 pm

I, too, am torn. I am very much in favor of ditching the proven ineffective abstinance only education and replace it with a real sex education class that actually helps kids with what they need to know.

I think 11 is too young to be providing birth control, but then again, as Heather and Rachel pointed out, parents have to give permission for the visits and sometimes there is a need.

That said, most girls under the age of 13 who get pregnant or contract an STD have been molested. They aren’t participating in sexual activity willfully, but usually been manipulated by an older boy or molested by an adult.

Then there are cases like the 15 year old girl who had already had an STD and was now a teenage mother. Her mother continued to refuse birth control for her daughter, stating that it would “grant approval for her behavior”.

It’s a complicated problem with no real answer and unfortunately, most parents and kids are left to find their way through conflicting opinions, various judgments and stomach-turning hypocrasy (Say No to Sex – Dress/Act/Dance like Britney and be popular)

#3 Margo on 10.21.07 at 7:30 pm

Bravo Heather!

#4 boogiemum on 10.22.07 at 1:15 am

I totally agree with you, Heather!

#5 Heidi @ Carolina Dreamz on 10.22.07 at 3:54 pm

Why would an 11 year old who could not talk to her parent about sex, ask for permission for this service??

I remember going through sex ed, in public school, in jr high school. I stayed after class with a classmate, honoring her request… her question was if she could get pregnant if she had never had a period.

I never saw her again that school year. The next school year, I saw her across an open lunch area, with a baby on her hip. *sigh*

She wouldn’t ask her questions unless I stayed with her. She wouldn’t have asked alone.. nor did she ask her parents.

I’m against this as much as I’m against compulsary education. I would like to see the statistical percentages of really how many parents aren’t doing their jobs vs those that are.. I know this is an impossible request…

I do know there are parents who should have been required to have licenses to get pregnant.. but in general, I’m so pleased to surround myself with parents who actually take responsibility for their children.

Great post!

#6 Nancy on 03.26.08 at 12:39 pm

11 is way too young to be having sex…and my ultimate question is; where are these kids performing the act? Who’s mom or dad is letting the two children into their home with condoms and birth control? Once you eliminate the location desired, you can start eliminating the birth control. Until then though, safety comes first, and birth control is the answer

#7 kevin on 04.15.08 at 9:11 pm

it is unbelievable. i am writing a paper about parental authority when suddenly i crash in front of webpage. the question is : what would happen 2 decades from now?. parents especially in U.S. along with an unrealistic govenment, try to give to their children more than they should receive. yes communication is important. but i believe that a kids need to be strictly controled until the age of 15. being sexually active at 11 is over the edge!!!!!!!. that means that parents are failling onn the degree of freedom that their kids should have.
just don’t be suprise that 7 years old children turn out willing to experience that.

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