Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Teenage Baby Problem

The self-styled pagan/Wiccan community has severely criticized us Frosts, we hear, for (among other activities) advocating sex education and the introduction of teenagers to (oh gasp) sex. Indeed, at one point the right-wing fringe elements of the Wiccan community threatened to burn us in effigy (gasp again) because of our beliefs. Despite such foot-dragging, we still firmly believe that this nation is in deep trouble because of its head-in-the-sand attitude to realistic sex education for teens.
So guess what. That attitude of denial has come to bite authorities and all the abrahamic fundamentalist religionists firmly in the ass. Teenagers have rebelled against the just-say-no paradigm, which they (rightly) view as absolute hypocrisy. They can see for themselves adults or near-adults enjoying sex in TV and on the web.
We learn that the lowest recent teen birth rate occurred in 2005. In 2008 it was up an average of 7 precent. That may not sound like much--but it means over 40,000 extra actual live birth to teens. Nearly 90 percent of teen girls are now single mothers. Apocryphally, from talking with high-school teachers, we suspect that the birth rate will climb another 10 percent in 2009--meaning almost 100,000 extra teen births. Of course this does not include twice that many abortions.
You may not be aware of some recent trends in teen attitude to sex.
* Pregnancy parties - Groups of boys and girls meet and do all the sex they can stand. The girls' aim: to get pregnant without being able to attribute the pregnancy to a single partner.
* Sexting - The use of cellphones to receive and transmit sexually explicit pictures and to arrange copulation dates and pregnancy parties.
* Juicing - This expression may be less crude than the f-word; however, it has an additional dimension: It means totally unprotected sex. At today's teen pregnancy party, we are given to understand, the girls try to get juiced by several different partners.
Of course juicing also means that American teens have the highest level of STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) of any developed country in the world. The rate is some 30 times higher than in Germany and 20 times the level of EU nations as a whole.
* Babydaddy - Today's expression for the unknown father of the child--not lover, not fiance, not even steady or boyfriend--and never by name. With this approach the pregnant young woman cannot tell Social Services who the father is. Everybody gets a free ride.
Questions arise. Why are teens engaging in these activities? What creates this mindset in them? They know full well that they can have protected sex and get most of the enjoyment without the resultant baby. It seems, though, that it is not raging hormones; instead
1. Many of the girls do it for simple and straightforward economic reasons. Their family, and they themselves, are often starving, or at least living on the breadline. Fortunately for them, many high schools are now running baby-sitting services; and HUD will provide an apartment, medical care, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program--SNAP.
2. It may be also that some of the pregnancies are jailbreak pregnancies--anything to get out of the repressive family context. Even though they are in dire economic straits, many parents, including some who call themselves pagans, will have nothing more to do with teen daughters who have "sinned".
3. Sociologists tell us too that some of these pregnancies--pregnancy as revenge--are to shame the parents. Revenge for what? Maybe for perceived wrongs, or for the "gratitude" the daughters feel they have never received.
So long as there is stubborn silence, there can never be anything like a full and satisfactory resolution of the reasons.
The highest ratio of births is in the southern tier of "red" states, where fundamentalism rules. The top state, by the way, is Nevada, running 77 births per 1,000 teenage girls. These births are highest in non-hispanic whites.
The situation is dire. Apart from encouraging what might be called a French attitude to sex, in which contraceptive measures, abortion, and the morning-after pill are all available and free without tattling to parents, we can see that the situation will not improve if the root cause is economic. It looks as if we are going to have to face up to some kind of a federal allowance for teenagers.
Do you have feelings about these topics? We'd like to hear from you.
Yes, apple pie and motherhood are an essential part of the Norman Rockwell-type American dream. But (here comes Yvonne's reality smack--you knew it was coming, didn't you?) even when the babies have lost their entertainment value, even when the Cute Factor plummets to zero,

you can't take 'em to the pound.

2 comments:

Blue Skull said...

I believe it is important to educate children about healthy sex habits that allow them to prosper in our society, not become a burden to our social welfare programs, and maintain their mental and physical health.

I have two sons, one of them I provided sex education for when he was in third grade because that is when he started asking about reproduction. He turned 29 in 2009 and just got married this year. He felt it was time to settle down. He did have one child with a woman before he got married and must provide child support. But he was always a very intelligent child, teenager, and adult. He is much more intelligent than I ever was and much more level headed than me.

My youngest son is 15 and still lives at home. He is autistic, probably from the mercury he received in a vaccine. He started displaying an interesting sexual fetish when he was about four. He was attracted to people’s feet and found enjoyment in having his face close to their feet. He began taking his shoes off at playgrounds and sitting alone in secluded play areas so that he could fondle and observe his own feet. When he was old enough to work a digital camera, he began taking pictures of his feet while he was doing this activity. He later would look at the pictures on his computer so that he could relive the moment. He has had sex education in school but I have not personally given him any at home like I did with my older son. He does not display his desire for feet anymore and even seems to avoid looking at people’s feet when they are not wearing shoes. I never encouraged or discouraged his behavior, I only monitored it and ensured other children and people did not become affected. The human mind is an interesting phenomenon.

I can remember my own sexual desires or curiosity starting at the age of four or five. My sisters provided me with an avenue to satisfy my curiosity. At the early age of four or five I talked one of my sisters into getting naked with me and allowing me to explore her anatomy. It may be called simple childlike curiosity by some, but I remember it as more than that. Coming from a conservative family and school environment, my own sex education ended up coming from other boys. Not the most wholesome way to be given direction, but at least it did answer questions and provided a means of sexual gratification.

I’ve read some of your material concerning adolescents and puberty. Each child is different and requires special attention and direction. Your material is meant for adults who can read it from an anthropology perspective and also from a pagan parent perspective. Today's laws are much different than the times some of the practices you describe occurred. Any adult reading about practices from long ago should have the understanding that ancient pagan customs are not always applicable today. My own pantheon of choice being Mesoamerica was very accustomed to human sacrifice hundreds of years ago. If I chose to write about these practices, it is in no way that I would condone them for today.

Kate said...

Would you please provide some source material for your claims? Some of your figures, particularly the one that states 90% of female teens are single moms, don't ring true.