Archive for the ‘Drinking’ Category

Teenage sex and drinking:Blame parents, society and Clydesdales, not teachers

December 1, 2009

By David Farside

Nov. 30th, 2009

I’m sure we’re all aware of the data released by the Washoe County School District last week requiring what the district says is an immediate “call to action” involving the whole community. I hope that doesn’t mean hiring 15 more school counselors at $80,000 a year and five more mid-management administrators to supervise them at $120,000-a-year salary. No, that couldn’t happen because district staff can’t afford to pay the teachers they already have. Or can they?

Among other things, the report indicated that about 25 percent of all high school students said they attended class under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol within the last year. And to think some of them drive their cars to and from school every day.

The report also showed that more than 52 percent of high school kids have had sexual intercourse. Even the percentage of students having sex under the age of 15 has increased over the past years. So much for parental supervision.

We start training our children to be adults at a young age. Boys start competing in sports at age 10 or younger. They join pee-wee football teams, Little League baseball teams and if they could shoot a basketball, their want-to-be fathers would have them enlisted in a junior hoops league. Some cities in the north even have junior hockey leagues, teaching our future war heroes the art of self-defense and smacking each other with hockey sticks. Speaking of self-defense, there is always the karate class instructing our youth how to kill with dignity and honor, meaning if we kill for our country, that is dignity and honor. If we are killed by someone defending their country, they are a terrorist.

As our young male athletes advance to the high school level of competition, some consider taking the first step in self-destruction: the use of steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. And why not? If it’s good enough for their superstar role models, it should be good enough for them. The next step towards personal ruin is alcohol.

Growing up and watching their favorite sports on television, they are exposed to what is called “a great taste and less filling” drink. They see a beautiful team of Clydesdales delivering a wagonload of beer to the neighborhood bar, supervised by a lovable, adorable Dalmatian. Little do they know the dog and pony show is delivering what could be the destruction of their lives.

Our children have been taught by their role model parents to accept drinking beer as a social tradition and a rite of passage. It seems dads have to demonstrate their “manhood” with a six-pack of beer at family picnics, weddings, parties, social events and New Year celebrations. And let’s not forget the family camping trips, fishing, boating and hunting. Above all, what is the Superbowl without the social traditional cold beer in Dad’s hand while the kids watch those Clydesdales deliver the beer right to their own front room. But there is always the disclaimer, “Drink responsibly.” What does that mean? It should mean dads don’t get drunk in front of their children because they’re setting a bad example.

At one time cigarettes were advertised on radio and television. In 1970, because of its negative influence on children, particularly during sporting events, Congress passed legislation banning the marketing of cigarettes on the airways. Smokeless tobacco was banned on radio and TV in 1986. That legislation lowered the rate of teenage smoking. Conclusion: Teenage drinking would decrease if we eliminated beer commercials on radio and TV. We know that will never happen because we can all drink responsibly – without getting drunk. Right!

Young  girls have their own conduit to adult sexuality and alcohol in a more sophisticated way. Their mothers enroll them in competitive gymnastics. That doesn’t sound too bad, but have you seen what 12-year-old girls have to go through to be “competitive?” Many of them are taught the first steps towards anorexia. In their quest for Olympic fame, they can’t eat a candy bar or pizza because they might gain so much weight they’ll fall off the balance beam.

And let’s not forget their second step towards anorexia and teenage sexuality. It starts with the tiny-tots beauty contest. Now if that’s not ridiculous exhibition and exploitation of a young girl, I don’t know what is.

What constructive values and life skills can be taught to a 6-year-old girl parading around on television with lipstick, rouge, quaffed hair and high heels, wearing a pinafore and pretending to be a sexy Dolly Parton lookalike? With all of the sex offenders and pedophiles in the world, that would be the last thing I would want my child to do.

So who is really to blame for teenage behavior when they are not in school? The teachers, parents or our drinking society as a whole?

If you have a problem, get rid of the source. Solving the problem of drinking and sexual activity among teenagers during afterschool hours is clearly not just the teacher’s responsibility. It’s the responsibility of parents and society collectively. The enticement for children to act out the lifestyle of adults at a young age should be limited and not taught to them by their parents. Because of the Internet, we will never totally eliminate the curiosity children have; however, having responsible parents and removing those Clydesdales and  beer commercials from television would be a good start.