There has been a great deal of worry in the U.S. about the state of literacy and education of the young. The great schools with the highest standards still attract and educate. Many other schools spoon-feed vocational courses into lethargic kids. However, new studies that suggest teenagers in Britain and the United States do not know how to use condoms are disconcerting.
An interesting Fox News article written in 2002 by Glenn Harlan Reynolds, "Teen Sex and Media Hype," makes a good point about the infantilization of teens in our society. He wrote of teens coddled to the point where they had neither to accept responsibilities nor to act in constructive paths. Perhaps, he mused, if they were, they would behave in the role of citizens and be less like the traditionally irresponsible leisure classes "... with all the vices that have historically attended leisure classes."
He also noted that treating them as infants in growing and sexual bodies keeps them from developing the "base of judgment and self-respect" that allows for appropriate decision-making. Appropriate decisions imply deciding when they are ready for sex (always a difficult choice given the flooded hormonal circuits of the adolescent) and learning about and taking responsible precautions.
The forces against science and knowledge and even a group who are opposed to education about sex (hard to imagine, isn't it?) continue to dominate school boards or try to. More than a few times they have managed to ban books and work their censorship incantations over library choices.
It is not a slight lessening of intellectual interest in young people that is the problem. This week's report from the U.K. proves that the world faces a real problem of dumbness (or is it numb-ness?).
USA Today published the article "Report: Teenagers Often Shun Condoms" early in the month. It reported on a study appearing from Child Trends, a not-for-profit agency in Washington, D.C. that those teens who are sexually active do not use condoms regularly. This activity puts them in danger of acquiring STDs, passing them on to their partners, and creating pregnancies.