| THINK SHE still holds it against me. As a teen today, it's absolutely ludicrous to think that my niece Katie needs to hold my hand while crossing the street.|
But way back when, when Katie was just three, our battle of wills produced fierce tears. On a shopping trip, I her aunt, was entrusted with her safety. All was going well ... until the moment I grabbed Katie's hand before we crossed the busy parking lot in front of the store.
Katie jerked her hand away from me. Hearing a car's motor on the left, I reached out to catch her hand again. It took us a full minute to establish that she was going to hold my hand as we crossed the street. And, if today she still holds it against me, I must confess ... I'm not sorry for insisting on winning the battle.
Life is like that. One minute we're too young to be entrusted with a task. And then we aren't.
Life is like that. One minute we're held back. And then, crossing the line in the sand, we are suddenly old enough to be trusted with new responsibilities. It's a simple principle. And yet, it's a principle some want us to ignore in the most significant area of life for American teens today.
Today, we are embroiled in a national debate about how to handle sexual behavior related to teens and adolescents. In a surprising upheaval of logic, there are "sexperts" who cannot find any line in the sand at all to dictate a time when sex is absolutely, unequivocally and irrevocably inappropriate for young people.
Instead, these "sexperts" have declared this the "Age of Consent." If you can get or give consent, then you are old enough to have sex.
Ignoring the health implications for teens who are sexually active, these "sexperts" wag their fingers in the face of abstinence educators, rejecting any attempt to set a line in the sand. Who is "ready" for sex, you ask? Anyone who "consents" to have sex, they answer.
Embracing the philosophy of Kinsey, all sex is good sex ... if you can dream it up, if you can manage to perform it, and if it is consensual ... then it is good sex.
Like all ideas, pushing to the extreme, we eventually must come to terms with the insanity of insane ideas. Consider the case of the North American Man/Boy Love Association (NAMBLA). According to Wikipedia, it is "a New York City- and San Francisco-based unincorporated organization that opposes the use of age as the sole criterion for deciding whether minors can legally engage in sexual relations."
Wikipedia continues: "NAMBLA defends what it asserts to be the right of minors to explore their sexuality on a much freer basis. It has resolved to 'end the oppression of men and boys who have freely chosen mutually consenting relationships.'"
Checking out the NAMBLA website, disturbing evidence exists of adults promoting sex between grown men and young boys. You can order a newly revised copy of Boys Speak Out on Man/Boy Love, promoted with a picture of a grown man dancing with a boy barely taller than his elbows. Chapters include "It Shouldn't Be a Crime to Make Love," written by Bryan, age twelve and a half. An interview with Thijs, age 11, declares "I'm Not Going To Be Kept Away from Him." How about it, "Sexperts?" Is consent considered justification for this type of adult/child sex?
Or what about a 2002 book written by Judith Levine, Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex? Widely promoted as a book to challenge "widespread anxieties" about pedophilia, Ms. Levine was toasted by national media and given every opportunity to convince Americans that science supports positive benefits for sex between adults and children.
The book's publisher, University of Minnesota Press, called Levine's book "a radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children's and teens' sexuality." James Kincaid, author of Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting, called it "a crusading book that is also kind, a very rare phenomenon, and it comes down always on the side of trusting not only our kids and their pleasures but our own."
Taking up the banner of "consensual sex," most recently the Journal of Adolescent Health stated that "... there are no scientific data suggesting that consensual sex between adolescents is harmful." Seeking to justify their assertion, they pointed to the "many positive mental health consequences" of adolescent sex.
Finally, and most sadly, the Centers of Disease Control has now joined in the chorus of "sexperts" protecting sex for adolescents. At their 2006 National STD Prevention Conference in Jacksonville, Florida, the CDC had a chance to draw a line in the sand. And they failed.
At the CDC conference, standing before a crowd of national experts on STDs, Dr. Patricia Sulak sought to find common ground between the "sexperts" and abstinence educators. Surely, she challenged them, we can agree on this one thing. Can't we agree on an age too young for sex?
NO! the room erupted in unison. After all, this is the age of consent. If sex is consensual, that's good enough for them. If you are wondering what the CDC has to say about this ... so am I.
How about it, CDC? How young is too young when it comes to children and sex?
A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (firstname.lastname@example.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled "From the Home Front." Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.
More columns by Jane Jimenez