Save My Daughter from This Sex-Crazed World
Get Thee to a Nunnery
To paraphrase the Beatles, I read the news a few days ago, oh boy. When I stopped to pick up a paper, the newsstand was plastered with girlie magazines, reminding me of a tabloid news story, "Bar Mitzvah Blowjobs," that I'd recently overheard fellow parents discussing in horror.
All this came on the heels of a scandal in our own backyard: My then-11-year-old daughter's teacher had recently been indicted for attempted dissemination of indecent material to minors. (He is accused of exchanging sexually explicit e-mails with someone he believed to be a 14-year-old; he is currently awaiting trial.) When Alliana told me, she was ashen. "At Christmas he asked us for our class pictures and I gave him mine," she said. Rumors were flying that her teacher might have pasted naked bodies on those photos.
I was part of the "why don't you do it in the road, make love not war" generation: The first group of women who grew up knowing that when we wanted to, we would have sex. And I've always wanted the same for my daughter.
Now, don't get me wrong; it's not that I consider teenage abstinence a missed opportunity. Still, I've always wanted Alliana to know that with the right person in the right circumstances (with protection), sex is delicious.
But today's environment is making me feel that the 40-year difference between the free-love 60s and the New Millennium is as vast as the gulf between the Revolutionary War and the assault on Iraq. How am I ever going to raise a sexually happy, healthy child in a world where the likes of Paris Hilton and Christina Aguilera are role models, minors purportedly pull up their shirts on Girls Gone Wild, and culture watchers muse that perhaps Janet Jackson might have flashed her breast at the Super Bowl to one-up Madonna's girl-on-girl smooch with Britney at an MTV awards show?
My initial thoughts are along the lines of "Get thee to a nunnery," or anywhere where Alliana won't be bombarded with...well, things I don't think she's ready to make sense of. I started turning off the Today show when reports about the Elizabeth Smart kidnapping first surfaced. I was bothered by the insinuations of mind control and molestation as reporters theorized that the 14-year-old had been taken as a "wife." It's not that I could shield Alliana entirely from the case, but I didn't think she needed a daily dose of it. Exposing kids to sexual frankness doesn't necessarily give them a framework for understanding it.
Take "Stranger Danger." I'm grateful that Alliana's been trained in it. On the flip side, a few months ago when she and a friend went by themselves to the local Chinese restaurant for lunch, they freaked: The waiter, just being friendly, chatted them up and asked them their names. "Adults aren't supposed to ask you private information about yourself," said her pal, who insisted they hightail it right back home.
How can they possibly know the difference between small talk and big trouble?
Alliana's school handled the teacher situation with care and attention -- there was an assembly, visits with guidance counselors, and more. But it's not clear that all of this communicating helped Alliana. When a close family friend who is a learning specialist with a degree in psychology asked her about her teacher, she told him, "I don't remember what happened to Mr. Davis. I don't want to think about it."
My friend's diagnosis? Alliana's being "clubbed by information she's not ready to process." He thinks the kids were given too many details. We suffered from sexual scandals being swept under the rug. Now maybe the pendulum has swung too far the other way.