Project 21 New Visions

 

Lisa Fritsch

Government Can't Take Away Your Rights If You Give Them Up


by Lisa Fritsch (bio)

Just because kids seem to go into heat when they hit puberty doesn't mean our government-run schools should be allowed to treat them like dogs.

It used to be that parents were a source of reason and wisdom for whom children could learn valuable life lessons and common sense.  This no longer appears to be the case.

Instead, it seems a large number of parents are abdicating their responsibilities and - consciously or not - are condoning their children's destructive behavior.  Is it because they want to seem cool to their kids?  Maybe they want the government to take over their child-rearing responsibilities.

Nowhere does this trend seem more obvious than in Portland, Maine, where the Portland School Committee recently voted to allow girls as young as 11 years old receive prescription birth control.  Oral contraceptives are already available in area high schools, but middle schools were added because 17 middle school students became pregnant over the past four years.

Parents must still sign a waiver allowing their children access to the school's clinic - something more than a quarter have already done.  Portland parent Cathleen Allen is ecstatic, telling the New York Times, "Someone is finally advocating for these students to take care of themselves."  Rather than having to sit down with her son to talk about sexual responsibility, Ms. Allen now has more "me time" since the school system is effectively spaying and neutering the student body like house pets.

Who would oppose such a plan?  Carissa Porcaro, a Portland student, told the Times, "I think it's stupid because what people are saying is that it's OK to be sexually active."

Wise beyond her years, Ms. Porcaro realizes her classmates are prone to unsound decisions.  That's why no middle school in America allows students to bring loaded guns for protection.  Likewise, students are often expelled for bringing drugs as benign as aspirin onto school grounds.

When it comes to sex, however, there's a completely different mindset.  Kids can make their own choices without consultation, even though the choices may threaten their lives.

We can't be surprised our kids are interested in sex - they are surrounded by it.  They are allowed to get juiced up in suggestive clothing, watch racy television shows and music videos and zombie out on Internet web sites such as MySpace where they are sometimes chatting about who-knows-what with complete strangers.

People think they are good parents because they give their children credit cards, cell phones, no curfews and plenty of contraceptives.  They feel good about themselves for giving kids their own space.

What's their form of supervision?  Some parents supply their underage kids with alcohol under the logic that they are going to drink anyway - why not let it happen where there is a "responsible" adult around?  It's this faulty logic that also figures ready access to condoms and The Pill will protect kids from getting pregnant, sexually abused, or contract diseases including AIDS.

That's not me.  I am not going to relinquish my parental authority without a fight.  When my baby reaches that age, I'll say, "Go ahead, take a drink.  I'll catch you, and I'll make your life a living nightmare."  If I think my baby is having sex, I'll be her shadow.

Why?  Because I love her.  It is my job, as a parent, to protect her.  It is my job to make sure she knows who she is, the great things she can become and remind her of her greatness.

When it comes to my daughter's virginity, it's under lock and key.  Not because I'm a prude, but because I see one's body and soul as being connected to their self-worth.  Ultimately, my daughter will find someone to share herself with, and I want that to be a special moment.  I don't want it to be a crude affair behind the school gym made possible by a condom or pill obtained from the school nurse.

This, in my opinion, is the sign of a child who is truly being taken care of.

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Lisa Fritsch, a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network, is a community activist and radio commentator in Austin, Texas.  Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by The National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21 or the National Center for Public Policy Research.


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