Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Update on the Boulder High School Assembly Promoting Sex & Drug Use

The Boulder Valley School District has made a complete transcript available of the controversial Conference of World Affairs assembly. Be forewarned that it contains mature subject matter often described in graphic language. If it were a movie, it would be rated a strong "R"- something that is very interesting since minors are not permitted to watch R-rated movies unless accompanied by a parent!

Unfortunately, school board president Helayne Jones has recanted her previous statement that the CWA assembly was a "huge mistake" and went on to bash what she termed "a vocal minority with a political or religious agenda" for allegedly "misrepresenting what is happening in our schools". Superintendent George Garcia further insisted that "overall, the panel was appropriate for presentation to high school students.”

After reading the full transcript, I stand by my previous assertion that this assembly was inappropriate for a high school audience with children as young as age 14. Had this talk been given to college students, I still would've disagreed with much of what the speakers said, but the explicitness of the discussion would not have been an issue.

I have to concede that the speakers did make a handful of good points about the potential backfiring of drug-testing all students who participate in afterschool activities, the societal problems caused by certain legal substances such as cigarettes and prescription medications, and the overdiagnosis of ADD/ADHD. There was also some discussion of the negative consequences of sex & drugs including HIV and other STD's, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, drug overdoses, poor grades, and even a suicide.

I have to point out that the most controversial of the 4 speakers, Professor Joel Becker of UCLA, was very dismissive of the physical and emotional risks not just of pot and heterosexual sex but also of gay sex, ecstasy, mescaline, and LSD!

The attitude of the speakers was definitely one of "sex and drugs are great if you do them 'responsibly' and we know you aren't going to listen to those silly old-fashioned taboos anyways."

First of all, the majority of U.S. teenagers are NOT sexually active and are NOT using illegal drugs. Importantly, teens whose parents express strong disapproval of adolescent sex are especially likely to abstain. Similarly, teens who believe their parents would be "extremely" upset if they tried marijuana are significantly less likely to use the drug than teens who believe their parents would only be "a little" upset. Therefore, it is not at all "inevitable" that teens will experiment with sex and drugs regardless of what message they hear from the adults in their lives.

The issue here is not sex or drug use by adults but by children. Liberals and conservatives alike can agree that this type of behavior is extremely risky for teens, who are not exactly known for their responsibility and careful consideration of potential long-term consequences.

Can you imagine the outrage if a student assembly speaker made a statement along the lines of "Drag-racing is illegal, but it can be fun and we know you're going to do it anyways- so make sure you buckle your seat belt"???????

We as parents would have no problem telling our kids unequivocally that drag-racing is dangerous and illegal and they absolutely, positively, 100% should NOT engage in it. Yes, there still will be some kids who will do it anyways but that wouldn't prevent us from making our disapproval known.

I just don't understand what is wrong with people like Joel Becker, Helayne Jones, and George Garcia that they can't understand why encouraging children to engage in very risky behavior is a bad idea!

Note: a further update on the situation can be found here.

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