Parenting an adolescent is challenging no matter where you live.
British health officials have raised the bar on those challenges by issuing a pamphlet entitled “Pleasure” aimed at schools, health workers and others who work with teens.
In addition to promoting traditional suggestions of a healthy diet, the pamphlet also encourages teens to engage in an active sex life merely for pleasure’s sake.
It also suggests masturbation is a socially acceptable alternative to intercourse to be explored.
In its coverage of the pamphlet issue, the Times of London interviews one its authors who said the approach was discouraging teens to engage in sexual relations until they recognized they were mature enough for them.
Cautioning teens against the very real dangers of sex, including STDs and the consequences of pregnancy, shouldn’t be minimized, as appears to be the case here.
Whether preaching abstinence or promoting responsible sex through condom use, that is a decision that should be made primarily within families. Since family structures have changed significantly in many ways in recent decades, it has often been left at the doorstep of public health and school officials to pick up the pieces of diffused parental authority. That is a large burden to bear and “Pleasure” is an outgrowth of that.
Terence Blacker, a columnist for the British newspaper The Independent, takes a satirical look at “Pleasure.” He doesn’t care about the “orgasm a day” approach promoted by the pamphlet, but rather sees it as a waste of resources by focusing on the obvious.
Blacker wrote: “Urging them to enjoy their own bodies is a bit like encouraging cows to eat grass or birds to fly. It may be uncomfortable for adults, but solo sex is part of growing up. If scientists could work out a way to connect the busy hands of Britain’s teenagers to the national grid, there would be enough renewable energy to power an eco-town.”
You could say this is overblown.
You could say Blacker, and others who would agree with him, are crass for not taking this issue more seriously.
Perhaps think of it this way.
Getting drunk or high by drinking alcohol or taking any number of drugs (including prescription abuse) are things we, at least publicly, tell teens to steer clear of.
Sure, you might feel good temporarily, but there are all kinds of negative consequences related to health and getting behind the wheel.
Should sex be viewed the same?
The answer may seem obvious to some, but is it?
Case in point, I’ll leave you with an analogy to alcohol use.
Driving home from a long trip over the weekend I heard, what at least for me, was a first. An Anhueser-Busch commercial was cautioning parents against holding beer bashes at their homes for underage drinkers, the adult supposition being, “If they’re going to drink anyways, let them do it under my supervision.”
Regularly for the past few years, there are always stories on local news about parents getting busted for holding these types of parties during graduation season.
Are these parents flat-out irresponsible or is there a level of wisdom here that trumps conventional morality?
Similarly, is it OK to tell teens sex is pleasurable, go out and enjoy it despite the consequences?
I ask these questions rhetorically on purpose: Your comments, as always are welcome.