The Birthcontrol Pill in Jr. High?


In line at Starbucks the other day, my seventh grade son grabbed a caramel macchiato from the barista, winked at me in gratitude, and headed out the door for the patio.  A group of Jr. High kids passed on the way out and gave him a subtle, but clear, “what’s up” in the form of a nod and cool appraisal. My son casually nodded his head back in response.

When we walked outside to join my husband and baby, I suggested my son might want to go and hang with his friends.  His face lit up and he sauntered over to the group, shared some high fives and sat down.  These were friends from school I didn’t recognize.  They appeared to be more mature than his usual sports buddies; it was a co-ed group and the girls looked about sixteen, though I knew they were barely teens.  

The kids were also unsupervised, raising instant red flags in the back of my mind, and so my husband and I watched them curiously.  We tried to look cool and blasé, but were staring none the less.

One pair in particular stood out, a boy and girl who looked a little too friendly with each other.    Completely oblivious to the world, the kids couldn’t keep their hands off each other.  The girl leaned back into the boy’s arms. Her bottom snugly tucked into his lap and his arms wrapped tightly around her waist.   Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream played in my head. 

It was an intimate act that suggested pure sex.  Generally, those kinds of lap wiggles are reserved for the bedroom or private Jacuzzi.  Clearly, certain  boundaries had already been crossed and if they weren’t already sexually active, then they were getting close. Either way, it was inappropriate and shocking. It was a blatant “get a room” kind of move that makes people uncomfortable.  I was even more surprised at their audacity, as if they were unaware of social norms and space, or parents in particular.

And there sat my baby boy in the midst of these horny teenagers.  My sweet and innocent little angel corrupted by tarts and P Diddies.  (Ok, possibly an overreaction, but I am relatively confidant my son is still pure) And I got scared and a little sad.  Because, the truth is I can’t protect him from a culture that is hyper sexualizing everything down to tennis shoes.

On the way home, I questioned my son about his friends.  He mentioned the affectionate couple was dating.  I strained to remember what dating in Jr. High meant.  All I could remember was spin the bottle at parties, holding hands and possibly a first kiss for the kids who were going out. (Where “out” was, we will never know?)

 After a little research, from the Culture and Media Institute, I discovered the average age for a youth in the United States who is sexually active has now dropped down to age fourteen. The general consensus among the public seems to be reluctant acquiesce.  In Portland Maine (2007), the school board voted to allow birth control pills to be distributed to children as young as eleven.  Maine also dropped the age limit for sex to be considered illegal down to fourteen.

More disturbing than these statistics are the disparity of messages we are sending our teens.  “Don’t have sex, but if you do, here is how you put a condom on a banana.”  Hmmm? It’s as if no one believes saying no is an option. 

Why can we Just Say No to drugs but throw in the towel on children having sex?  Clearly, there will still be defiant and curious kids that will engage no matter what, but the message is still the same…avoid at all cost.  I am concerned why this message is applicable to one and not the other?

The morning after the Portland school board approved the measure allowing birth control to be distributed in the school, NBC’s Today Show featured Meredith Vieira and Dr. Nancy Snyderman, the network’s doctor-on-call. 

As Dr. Snyderman said, “Middle school kids are having sex!” Rather than letting that be a call for contraception, shouldn’t it be a wakeup call to our culture? If 11-year-olds are having sex, there are greater problems that need to be addressed than any pill can ever hope to cure … or prevent.

I agree with Dr. Snyderman in the bigger issue our culture faces. I would suggest that in the absence of a compelling reason to not have sex, we have just raised the white flag.  If no one will fight for teen abstinence and purity in light of the constant sexual barrage by the media, then we have already conceded. Why should any kid care if no one is willing to take a stand?

After we gently questioned our son, my husband and I walked home from Starbucks with him and talked openly about sex, love and what God has to say about it.  And that day, we took a stand; ready for a battle we may lose, but willing to fight against a culture where sex sells and little girls take birth control pills with their chewable vitamins.

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