Printer Friendly

Little grownups.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN to be a child in the Western world in 2013? The ideal of the innocent, protected Little child, allowed to play, grow, and gradually learn to exert reason, has been a banner waved proudly. Charities for children in poverty-stricken countries highlight the dearth of a real childhood to touch Westerners' cholesterol-clogged heartstrings. Children should be treasured, well-fed, and educated, with time to play, create, and learn the skills of their cultures. They are not little adults, nor are they subhumans--two errors of times past.

Much of Western Europe has incorporated the innocent savage motif with a sexual libertine pattern. The wild, natural child has a right to explore wild, natural sexuality. The basis seems to be a rather democratic, laissez-faire attitude: why should grownups have all the fun? The result is strange to this parent: the age of consent in Europe is as low as 13. Thus, no doubt, the shoulder shrugging over the Roman Polanski scandal.

Americans are shocked at the idea that a 13-year-old could consent to sexual activity with an adult. On the other hand, the U.S. now has in place the right of females of any age to purchase, over the counter and without question, Plan B One Step, a dose of hormones powerful enough to stimulate a cascade effect through the endocrine system, resulting in a purging of the contents of the uterus. (Moreover, there are school districts that dispense this medication to students without their parents' knowledge.)

This process occurs naturally, approximately monthly, in fecund females. The hormonal rhythms are complex. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, estradiol, and follicle stimulating hormones all are orchestrated in an ebb and flow that affects not just ovulation and menstruation, but sleep, appetite, mood, water retention, gastro-intestinal functioning, and many other bodily systems. Plan B's purpose is to disrupt and short-circuit this process in order to prevent the possible implantation of a zygote. A zygote is the very earliest stages of human development: after the sperm has punctured the egg, the half-strands of DNA have merged into a unique human blueprint, and cell multiplication has begun. It is very popular, among pro-choice persons to refer to this stage as a "fertilized egg," as if an ovum idly was wandering around the fallopian tube with the human version of Miracle Gro clinging to its membrane. The zygote is the early human person: it will pass through phases of embryo and fetus, and then be born, but its personhood is unquestionable.

So, are 13-year-olds merely kids who need us to check their math homework, or women who can regulate their own sexual behavior, understand the risks of Plan B, and set healthy boundaries with their often-much-older male partners? In my county, parents go to jail if the child is truant. The parent who is expected to control school attendance has no authority in the area of sexual "health." We all must pretend that the children who are too silly to remember their shin guards for soccer are more than mature enough to engage in sex, with all its physical and psychological risks, without any grownup interference.

Of course, the U.S. has been having it both ways for many years. The film "Little Miss Sunshine" (2006) ridiculed child beauty pageants by ripping off the genteel veneer; now "reality" television displays the vulgarity. In mainstream life, mothers buy their daughters sexually provocative clothing. Just the other day I saw a little girl, no more than six, wearing tiny high-heeled wedges and shorts while out shopping with mom. While the child probably was unaware that she was costumed like Jodie Foster in "Taxi Driver," surely her mother understood that short-shorts and high heels generally are not de rigueur for the teeter-totter class.

It should not be a surprise that sexually active 13-year-old girls usually have partners three or more years older than they are. The Plan B marching orders will be quite the boon for the 18-year-old whose 13-year-old "girlfriend" misses her period. He easily can talk her into just taking a pill and making his problem go away. Her parents will never know, or wonder why that month's period involved such heavy bleeding, such unexpectedly terrible cramping, and wild mood changes.

Without compassionate adult guidance, the girl may not understand that she has just effected a chemical abortion. If she is against abortion, but believes she merely is using birth control (meaning conception prevention, which not all birth control do), and later learns she has been deceived into killing a baby, the emotional and spiritual consequences will be serious. If the flood of hormonal changes precipitates a chemical depression, she will not be equipped to cope with this and may not understand how to seek help.

If she were comfortable going to her parents with problems, she perhaps would not have found herself painted into that comer of post-hormonal-treatment depression. No one knows what repeated use of this drug will do. Girls who do not receive real medical attention will not receive treatment for sexually transmitted infections, running the risk of still more physical and mental health issues. The people who are advocating for "women's health" say she is a woman, able to make choices about her own body.

Yet, she is a child. Someone in her life ought to believe she is precious enough to defend, nurture, and guide into healthy maturity. She ought to be giggling with her girlfriends, experimenting with makeup (and being told to wash her face before leaving the house), playing sports and musical instruments, and otherwise being a big, goofy kid.

There is a cascade of evil within the Plan B decision. It is as if the citizens of Carthage decided to stop sacrificing their infants and instead waited until their children were in puberty to throw them, alive, into the fire. We cannot begin to fathom the depths of the problems that will ensue, but if the petulant inner children of the '60s generation are any indication, the zombie inner children of these girls will exact a bitter retribution on all of us.

Dolores T. Puterbaugh, American Thought Editor of USA Today, is a psychotherapist in private practice in Largo, Fla., and an adjunct instructor in psychology for St. Petersburg (Fla.) College; Troy University, Tampa, Fla.; and University of the Rockies, Colorado Springs, Colo.
COPYRIGHT 2013 Society for the Advancement of Education
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2013 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:PARTING THOUGHTS; sexual awareness of young women
Author:Puterbaugh, Dolores T.
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2013
Previous Article:Dear Mr. Knightley.
Next Article:Affordable Care Act exactly the opposite.

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters