Parents, teachers responsible for life lessonsWritten by Bob Frantz | | firstname.lastname@example.org
The day I walk into my teenager’s high school on freshmen orientation day and find a condom machine in the restroom is the day I go to jail for destruction of public property. I’d go berserk. I’d rip the machine off the wall, jump up and down on it and flush its entire contents in the nearest toilet.
Then I’d get mad.
On the other hand, the day I walk into my teenager’s high school and receive greetings from no less than 65 different pregnant students is the day I run screaming to the pharmacy for a handful of Xanax.
Neither scenario is very appealing.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the parents of kids at Canton Timken High School are facing as this school year gets under way, and no one knows what to do.
Timken High has a female student population of 490. According to the Canton Repository, 65 of them, 13 percent(!) are carrying babies.
School officials admit “this has gotten to horrible proportions,” but Timken principal Kim Redmond also said, “Schools can’t do it all. Once again, we’re being asked to.”
As a former teacher, I concur with Redmond’s assertion. Teachers and administrators are paid to educate children, not raise them. And there’s only so much “advice” a role model can give to young hormonal kids before they’re tuned out.
But as a parent, I do expect a little bit more from our public schools than just the three R’s. When my children are in school for six-plus hours every day, the teachers in charge of them are no less than their parents by proxy. They are responsible for teaching, advising, encouraging and, yes, disciplining my kids.
Of course the problem doesn’t exist only in schools — kids aren’t just hopping on the lunch tables and making babies. The Canton Health Department says 104 of the 586 babies born in its two largest hospitals since July were born to mothers between the ages of 11 and 19.
Eleven years old. Babies having babies; young mothers dropping out of school to raise their kids, relying on county assistance to get by, and rarely going back to get their GEDs. And no one has a solution.
Well, actually we already know the solution, but the solution is very difficult to achieve. It takes years of hard, dedicated work, and for far too many of us, it’s just not something we’re motivated to do.
The solution is to parent.
The solution is to spend time with your kids from the very start, educating them about the realities and the fantasies of life. The solution is to help your kids to realize the sex they see on TV might not have any consequences, and neither will the sex they see in video games or in magazine ads. But the sex they have in their own lives will.
Good, dedicated parents who make it their life’s mission to keep their kids safe from the dangers of unintended consequences brought about by careless actions, working hand-in-hand with motivated teachers who help to reinforce their messages, can win the fight.
The problem, however, is far too many kids grow up without the parents necessary; without a mom and dad who are willing to fight the fight for them. Those are the kids who need the schools to come through.
The federal government has gone to great lengths to fund abstinence education in an effort to provide kids with the facts they need to avoid teenage pregnancy and exposure to disease. These programs are an important part of the process. It’s shameful that some groups continue to lobby to have those funds redirected to “safe-sex programs.” When abstinence is taught in classrooms, the lessons mean as much to kids as the geometry lesson they learned the period before. If life lessons don’t come from home, they often aren’t learned at all.
Which brings us back to the dilemma that all parents may soon face: would you rather walk your freshman child into the school with its own birth control center or the school with its own delivery room?
Bob Frantz hosts “Bob Frantz and the Morning News” each weekday on WSPD 1370 AM. He may be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com.