Eleven is the New Eighteen

My daughter will be 11 in three months. She’s interested in art, fiction, silly Japanese animation, animals, and Switzerland. It’s a great age – heck, they’re all great ages, if you have a happy child. There’s something about the pre-teen years, though, that combines a charming imitation of grown-up mannerisms with the simple pure passions of unsullied youth. I can trace much of what I love now to my own childhood, and I hope my daughter feels the same sense of connection some day with the person she is today.

Which is why we all worry about the internet, right? How it cheapens things, coarsens the soul, sexualizes kids before their time. If you discovered that your neighbor was running a website that told kids it was okay to have sex at the age of 11, you’d shun him, report him, stare daggers if you saw him at the grocery store. Pervert. If you found a guy outside your kid’s window, offering a box of condoms – you know,  just in case, just to be safe you’d be tempted to introduce his front teeth to the back of his throat.

But when the government does it, well, that’s public health.

Behold: the City of Philadelphia’s website for sexually active teens, If the kids feel “weird” about going to a teen center to get a pack of French Letters, don’t worry: the city will mail them, free, to anyone who’s eleven or older. That’s what the page says. Eleven.

Eleven.

A friendly reminder: if you oppose this public expenditure, you want children to die of AIDS.

More from James Lileks:

Goodbye to Dependable Juice

School Vouchers, Please. Now. Thank You

Celebs for Gadaffi

  1. tabula rasa

    Wait.  Let’s check how well these programs work.  The latest numbers show that nearly 42 percent of American births are illegitmate.  Hispanics:  well over 50%.  Blacks:  close to 75%.

    What exactly is this webside trying to accomplish?  Doesn’t seem to be working.  Other than one more nail in American culture and one more little sign that the Judeo-Christian ethic is on life support.

  2. Trace

    Despicable. But to Pat Cadell’s point: (R)s should be making more of this stuff that is so clearly wrong to the mainstream.

  3. River

    It’s painful to think of such innocence lost, especially to a tyrannical American government. I remember when that would have been an oxymoron. I share your anguish, James.

  4. drlorentz

    My oldest child, now 13, had strict parental controls (enforced by software) at age 11. Even though controls are looser now, some are still in force. In contrast, some of her friends have free access to anything online. This is tantamount to allowing your kid to wander anywhere, including red-light districts or crack houses. No parent would think of allowing one, yet blithely allow the other. I put it down to ignorance of technology.

    Yes, it is odious for the government to intrude, but it is the child’s parents’ responsibility to act as the gatekeeper. Perverts can be anywhere, including the government. Perhaps pervert is not the right word. The broader issue is that there’s material that is not age-appropriate in the world, internet included, and it’s our job to control access to it for the children in our care. Don’t expect others to do the job for you, especially not the government.

  5. Kennedy Smith

     You can get AIDS at age 11?  Heck the South Park kids are more innocent than that.  They don’t even get basic mechanics, and God love them for that.

    That’s right, I just stood up for South Park as a shining example of childhood innocence.

  6. StickerShock

     This is a timely topic, as last night I re-read Unprotected, a must-read book for all parents and teens about the dangers faced by youth in the politically correct world of public health.  Young women are not being told about the danger to health and future fertility that promiscuity brings.  We sternly lecture kids to avoid fatty foods & cigarettes, and promote exercise as good choices for long term health.  Yet health care providers are not promoting good choices in the realm of sexuality.  They must not offend……sexuality is treated differently than any orher aspect of health and wellness.  It’s a dangerous attitude.

  7. Fredösphere

    I’ve been shunning, reporting, and staring daggers at the federal government for years.

  8. Doctor Bean

    I thought that was one of the brilliant insights of “Brave New World”, that tyranny would not be sexually repressive, it would be sexually permissive and insist on promiscuity to keep its subjects in dull contentment.

  9. George Rapp

    Ah, but federal law (specifically, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA) says that the site can’t request any identifying information from children under the age of 13.  Thus, as in Arizona, are federal laws at odds with state or local ones.

    Awaiting word that the Obama/Holder Justice Department has sued Philadelphia …

    Still awaiting …

  10. StickerShock

     I just read the chlymidia info on the Philly website, and it is not correct!

    The hsp protein excreted by the chlymidia microbe that trigeres the immune system reaction is also created by an embryo.  So…..even after successfully being treated for chlymidia, a woman’s immune system is goint to remember that protein & is likely to attack an embryo even decades later……thus the tragic impact this disease has on fertility.

    The website is crude, but it also is incredibly misleading.  It presents a false sense of security —- just get some antibiotics and all your worries will fade away.  These girls have no idea that they are making very risky decisions that will impact them for the rest of their lives.  It would be seen as medical malpractice if we were talking about any health-related issue other than sex.

  11. concerned citizen
    StickerShock:  We sternly lecture kids to avoid fatty foods & cigarettes, and promote exercise as good choices for long term health.  Yet health care providers are not promoting good choices in the realm of sexuality.  They must not offend……sexuality is treated differently than any orher aspect of health and wellness.  

    This facet of modern liberalism (along with many others — abortion, the strategy to encourage idleness and dependency,  etc…) convinces me that it is not just a destructive ideology.  I believe it to be evil as well.

  12. kylez

    The web-site actually says “sex is a lot more fun if you don’t have to worry about stds or pregnancy.” yeah, “fun” is the most important thing.

    does it ever occur to these people that if a woman (or young girl apparently) is worried about getting an std/pregnant she should not be having sex in the first place? is that so extreme? how about waiting until she is with someone she loves and trusts (perhaps married), she would not have to worry about either, and she can have fun.

  13. Joseph Stanko
    StickerShock:  Yet health care providers are not promoting good choices in the realm of sexuality.  They must not offend……sexuality is treated differently than any orher aspect of health and wellness.  It’s a dangerous attitude. · Apr 14 at 9:33am

    I think there’s an underlying belief, or rather an unchallenged assumption, smuggled in from psychology that “repressing” one’s sexual desires is deeply unhealthy and dangerous.  Therefore they believe they really are promoting “health,” because a healthy sexuality supposedly requires having regular “safe” sex from puberty onwards.  Abstinence in this view is less healthy because it will lead to “repression” which may manifest itself in all forms of psychotic behavior including rape, child molestation, homophobia, and voting Republican…

  14. StickerShock

     There is no way to have sex without worrying about STDs, unless you and your partner each have no sexual past !!  Chlymidia and herpes are not preventable with condoms.  (No STD is absolutely preventable, but these two are spread much more easily that the old familiar ones.)

    Look at the crazy exaggerations about heterosexual risk of HIV.  It is virtually non-existent among heterosexuals who avoid anal sex & relations with iv drug addicts.  But HIV awareness programs start in kindergarten. 

    The rates of STD infection among colleg aged kids are through the roof !!!   Why are they not being told the truth?  I agree with concerned citizen that it is an evil & cowardly ideology responsible for the lies.

  15. Kennedy Smith
    Todd

    Kennedy Smith

    Stuart Creque: James, with Abercrombie & Fitch selling padded bikini tops for 8-year-olds, your 11-year-old now lives in a world where access to condoms seems like the most natural thing on Earth. · Apr 14 at 12:09pm

    Am I the only one who wasn’t outraged by that?  All girls want to look older.  All boys want to look older.  So what?  Let’s not get all Igrahamy. · Apr 14 at 12:13pm

    …therefore we should encourage the sexualization of third graders? · Apr 14 at 12:28pm

    I didn’t encourage it.  I just don’t care that they want to imitate their elders, as they always have and always will.  They weren’t wearing less clothing.  Kids put on make-up or whatever.

    Doesn’t move the outragometer much for me.

  16. FeliciaB

    Okay, Kennedy, you’ve finally gone and done it.  I’m posting, doggone it!  

    As a parent of boys, I completely understand my boys stuffing socks in their pants imagining what it’s like to be like Daddy.  It makes sense to pretend and imagine what it’s like to be a grown-up.  However, if my innocent little boys were to step outside of our house with those Hanes crew socks lodged under their little zippers, I’d have an absolute conniption fit.  It’s one thing to play dress up and imagine, it’s another to encounter the outside world with those imaginings.  It’s disturbing and vomit inducing.  In the same vein, I’d never let my pre-pubescent daughters wear make-up out of the house, much less a padded bra to a public beach.  They have no business looking older than they are.  They are children.  They should be expected to appear as children when in public.

  17. Roberto

    Here in California SB 48 just came out of the Senate, it would mandate the teaching of gay history in social studies courses. To me this relentless effort by progressives, somehow that term seems horribly deceptive, to force sexuality on our youth at every opportunity goes to the core of everything that is wrong with liberal thought. A complete absence of morality, a rejection of it even. 

  18. Stuart Creque

    Kennedy, then surely there’s nothing wrong with eight year olds getting breast implants, right? It’s just a healthy head-start on their looking older. No doubt it’s good for their self-esteem, aiding them in escaping the smothering limitations of childhood.

  19. Kennedy Smith
    Stuart Creque: Kennedy, then surely there’s nothing wrong with eight year olds getting breast implants, right? It’s just a healthy head-start on their looking older. No doubt it’s good for their self-esteem, aiding them in escaping the smothering limitations of childhood. · Apr 14 at 1:51pm

    Sigh.  No, that’s not good.  But if girls want to dress like Ariel the Mermaid, well, so what, in my book.  Always have, always will.

    Um, Felicia, I don’t think stuffing their jocks is a notable trait of cartoon characters,

  20. Trace
    Kennedy Smith

    Stuart Creque: James, with Abercrombie & Fitch selling padded bikini tops for 8-year-olds, your 11-year-old now lives in a world where access to condoms seems like the most natural thing on Earth. · Apr 14 at 12:09pm

    Am I the only one who wasn’t outraged by that?  All girls want to look older.  All boys want to look older.  So what?  Let’s not get all Igrahamy. · Apr 14 at 12:13pm

    I dont care about the padding per se but A&F as a brand and in its advertising is all about selling sex to kids and as a parent — especially of a 10 year old girl — I despise their approach. Ten year-olds should not be focused on showing skin.

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