By Tom Quiner
Yesterday’s post, “Abstinence vs. Contraception,” generated great feedback. Some of it was very constructive, especially the thoughtful response I received from a teenager in Canada.
She responded to an abstinence adversary who mocks the notion that kids can demonstrate some personal restraint.
I share her unabridged comments below. They are worth reading to the end:
“No, this is the perfect post that illustrates what I have to say, because it really shows you just how my fellow teens really operate.
I’m a teenager in Canada.
Sex education is very much in our curriculum.
Fact: Despite a girl at my school being taught about every contraceptive measure you can dream of by both the school and her parents, being told strongly about using them, her and her boyfriend have still had pregnancy scares. Why? Because despite being specifically told this – despite being SPECIFICALLY educated on this subject – and by the way, our education system actually makes us properly apply condoms on wooden you-know-whats, so you can’t call me out on us not having “proper” education – she is just “too lazy” to follow through with it. That’s a teenager for you (and I won’t lie; in other respects, I’m pretty lazy myself). The girl already knows what’s best for her about these issues. Does this stop her from having sex with her boyfriend every other day (often not bothering to use a condom) and smoking marijuana? No.
This happens to many teenagers in my high school.
FACT: Just because you teach a teenager about something or teach them about a smart way to do something DOES NOT MEAN THEY WILL LISTEN TO YOU. Pardon me for the caps, but why do some adults (I’m guessing you’re one of them) always think all of us teenagers are so smart? We’re not. I know I’m not smart myself, even though I don’t have sex, don’t take drugs, stuff like that. I know I will always make the smartest decisions when I am older. I take a look at my dad and the stories he tells me about his reckless childhood, then take a look at the man he is today, and I realize that you only really start to make smart decisions when you’re older.
This is why adults who know about drugs know better than to smoke a pack a day, or drink recklessly. If they don’t, it’s because they were exposed to these drugs at a younger age (like my grandfather – age 13, hmm) and found themselves hooked on it. And even though you may tell a teenager this, you’re forgetting that us teenagers are so much more influenced by peer pressure and are so much more concerned about the person we are today than the person we will be tomorrow; the person affected by this person now. Some of us are smarter about this, but a lot aren’t. A lot of us need time to figure these things out. No matter how much you tell us something is bad, like cramming for tests last minute (guilty as charged!) we’ll still probably do it sometimes. I get good grades in school, but because I cram, I don’t get enough sleep, I’m always tired, and my health suffers for it. So what exactly makes you think that telling us to have safe sex means that we’re always going to do it?
I’m sure you MUST know that Canada is pretty liberal about sex. Yeah, they tell us in school (especially middle school) that abstinence reduces the risk of STD’s and pregnancy by 100%, but they still offer us all of the contraceptive options and teach us about them IN DETAIL. Us teenaged girls even have a place where we can go for free to discuss our sex lives and ask for contraceptives and get tested for STD’s and pregnancy and all that. We have the resources. Does that mean we always apply them? No.
We teenagers don’t think much about our futures. Most kids in my school (including me) don’t really know where we are going with our lives, so we just go “meh” and don’t think much of it. We never think about bad things in the future. I know me, I know my friends, and I know other kids. I’m going to tell you this honestly from seeing other girls’ experiences: a teenaged girl when she’s all set for having sex with a guy will actually sometimes go, “well, I’m out of condoms, and the drugstore is far away, and I’m lazy, so I’m just gonna cross my fingers…” Welcome to the mind of a teenager.
And drug education? Learning about drugs didn’t stop the thousands of kids in my province from doing them. Not getting EXPOSED to drugs, then not getting PRESSURED into drugs, or getting exposed to drugs but seeing how damaging it is to your body only when it’s too late – THAT’S what makes teenagers learn. Doing the whole-hearted pledge of “I will not do drugs!” in sixth grade didn’t stop my old best friend from becoming a pothead. She really was honest when she made that pledge, too. No, the fact that drug dealers and your usual rebel kid that she became friends with made her into a pothead. Now, I’m not saying the education doesn’t benefit anyone – it certainly benefited me, and many others – but what I AM saying is that not all kids will listen to education. We usually learn the hard way, because some of us think we know better than adults! That’s the teenage mind. And we also make mistakes – more mistakes than the average adult – so who’s to say that even the girl who tries her hardest to stick to the pill schedule or to use condoms won’t suddenly go, “Oh, I forgot to take my pill this week,” or “Oh, I think the condom might have slipped! Oh well! It’s okay this one time!” Like me, when I go, “Oops! I forgot to study! Well I’ll just wing it!”
Please, I am speaking as a teenager. What I honestly think is best for my generation is for adults like you to rethink what you keep insisting on feeding us. Sex hasn’t made us happier. Pornography hasn’t made us happier. I know lot’s of girls who have sex or have had sex. Most of their relationships are built on sex, and they don’t last, and they wind up unhappy. Lots of boys use these girls for the sex and never speak to them again. But, yay for our all-sex society! (Haha. No.)
I’m just so done with so many adults in Canada practically encouraging us to have sex. We’re teenagers. We don’t know any better. I can’t really say much else…I can just say I’m exhausted. But what do you want our schools to do? They taught us sex-ed and we’re still not happy, and teenage pregnancies are actually on the rise. What more do you want for you to see that SEX IS THE PROBLEM, NOT SEX-ED. Do you want our teachers to smack us over the head with rulers everyday chanting “THIS IS HOW YOU PROPERLY APPLY A CONDOM…” Knowing some of the people at my school, they’d probably just tune out or still screw up somehow.
And stop assuming teenagers are just sex-crazed and slaves to their hormones. We’re not. We can control ourselves, if we’re taught about certain values. My parents taught my brother and me abstinence. Are we rolling on the floor foaming at the mouth from the “repression”? No. I spend my day reading interesting books (not sexual books, btw). My brother is more focused on his computer programming skills. So I resent you saying that people can’t stay abstinent. Are you saying that our lives depend on us having a sex life? No. Nonononono.
I’ve seen what sex does to other teens. They don’t respect each other because of sex. Teenaged boys today are extremely misogynistic because society tells them they can have as much sex as they want. Girls are more depressed. The boys and girls who don’t have sex? We have more fun! We also respect each other more. Teenage years are supposed to be about being dorks and building friendships, learning how to respect each other. Sex just kinda ruins that (kinda really). Stop trying to mature us. This isn’t our time for sex. And you know, I notice a trend where teens who have more sex actually do pretty bad as far as grades go. I WONDER WHY.
I’m so done with the whole sex-obsessed society. Can’t you see that, um, it’s not really working out for us? Divorce, depression, I can go on… Plus I’ve heard more gross language come out of a 10-year-old’s mouth than my 25 year old brother. That is just sad. Disgusting and sad.”