today's psa: children are NOT weeds.*


rape dat ho? really?

has no one talked to these kids about how serious rape is?

...before i go there, a caveat: dancing like this is not new, nor is it necessarily a horrible thing. baltimore's comparable to miami (i hear) in that "dirty" dancing is how we get down. i've seen and participated in this kind of stuff at high school dances and clubs--albeit to a lesser degree. no big deal.

let's face it: teenagers are horny. all that dry humping to a beat can help let off some steam and avoid the messy complications of attempting actual sex.

however, i think the proliferation of overtly sexual music videos and a few other factors have stirred the pot in ways we weren't privy to in the early-mid 90s.

you had to turn on b.e.t's midnight love--if you were allowed to stay up that late--to see the kind of stuff that's on a constant loop on mtv these days.

my parents didn't care if i watched music videos all day. even if NWA came on, the worst thing i'd probably see was a gun waved around and a girl in some lingerie. for the most part, rappers showcased clothed b-girls for sex appeal (when they used them at all), and even the raunchier female rappers were still fairly covered.

not so now.

even with that, there were still some invaluable things that assisted in the understanding that the word rape was not something you tossed around like a frisbee.

there was health class, for one. i don't know if budget cuts or nclb (groan) or whatever have eliminated this little gem, but health class is where we learned about everything from condoms to birth. there were segments on STIs, and we touched on things like sexual assault, date rape and the like. now, i could have had an exceptional teacher or curriculum, i don't know. but i do know that i walked out of middle school knowing some things about how to protect and care for myself, and i think a lot of my classmates did, too.

i also wonder how much of a factor traditional judeo-christian spirituality is, particularly with so many grandparents raising grandchildren. there are various reasons i don't believe in complete and utter chastity until marriage, however, i can respect a church that combines the message of conservative sexuality with practical and lifesaving information far more than the load of crap that is abstinence only education.

i fear for any young person growing up in a house where it's forbidden to speak frankly about sex, (physical/earthly/human-to-human) love, and protection because "you're not supposed to be doing that til you get married 'cause god said so, so don't ask."

teens are going to want to try things. they're naturally curious, impulsive and probably starved for information about the bodies they have to live and breathe in every day. the silence and denial (what were you doin, grandmama, when those blue lights went on in the basement?) is not helping anyone.

teenagers are tricky. they can be cynical, moody, and unpredictable. but they also have all the intellectual curiosity and potential they did as younger children. we should be taking advantage of that time to trust and mold them into confidently well-informed human beings, not trying to shut them up or shove them into boxes where they don't fit.

'cause when we do, this is what happens.

*my mother is fond of saying this, i.e., children do not sprout out of the ground spontaneously and grow on their own. they need instruction, direction, and care, to be raised and nurtured. and even before that, two people, somewhere, joined to bring this life to fruition. when did we begin to believe that "i feed you, give you clothes, spending money and a house to live in" was all we needed to do for our babies? what's the missing link? how do we build that bridge again?

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