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Social Issues: Letters

Demonizing the Family

by Ross Olson MD

Dr. David Aughey and Marshall Shragg wrote that changing Minnesota's Minor Consent Law endangers teens (March 19, 1998). For example, a 15 year old boy abuses alcohol because of a history of sexual abuse by a family member. He tells a health professional and gets protection and help. Under the proposed changes, say Aughey and Shragg, the abuser can read the records. But think! Once Child Protective Services comes to the door, the abuser already knows something is up. This tragedy, even though it highlights an extreme case, is not materially altered by the changes.

Of far greater concern is the widespread effect on parent/child interactions of the wedges driven by well-meaning but misguided professionals who secretly believe that they know better and care more for children than the parents. It is this sort of attitude that led to the current law in the first place. Teen Age Medical Services (TAMS) has indeed been in the forefront of this movement and during its time in the sun has seen an explosive increase in promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancies, teen abortions and teen births, irresponsible teen fathers and poverty-stricken teen mothers, not to mention chemical dependency, depression and suicide. And we are supposed to believe that they are helping?

What are the ideas commonly taught at TAMS? A few years ago, their drama group performed and answered questions about these creeds. One is that it is unreasonable to expect teens, or anyone else for that matter, to resist their sexual impulses -- at least for very long. Another is that the direction of sexual attraction is genetically determined and therefore beyond anyone's control. In that case, it would be discriminatory and cruel to say, for example, that someone with homosexual attraction should not act on it.

To be sure, the discrepancy of this basic philosophy and the special case of "date rape" was noted, so that great emphasis was laid on each party asking permission for every step in the sexual advance (which, therefore assumes that this is all a rational transaction taking place between two competent individuals in constant full command of their faculties.)

Mention is not made, however, of the sexual abuse of children. It is an orientation, after all, and if it is irresistible, what is to be done? Adults who engage in intergenerational sexual behavior justify it using all the arguments supplied them by TAMS and its fellow travelers. That could mean that the family abuser of the boy in their example above was actually a graduate of the program.

The same justification is also used by the 20-something men who prefer young girls and charm them with social skills so vastly superior to those of junior high boys. They often leave sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies. "Hey! It was a meaningful relationship and she said 'yes.'"

So, suppose one of these young ladies comes to TAMS and says her parents will kill her if they find out. The counselor, accepting the "every family is probably dysfunctional" model, instantly believes her and prepares a "cure." The diseases are treated --if there is effective treatment. The pregnancy can be terminated by a helpful consultant at another location. Then the client will be back to normal and can resume her life, right?

But the truth escapes those who do not want to see it. Abortion advocates' shouts often suppress their own psychic pain regarding the lasting grief, sorrow, and remorse that follow abortion. The tendency to escape into chemical abuse and the likelihood of becoming pregnant again to replace the lost baby are only two of the many after effects.

Besides, all of this has done nothing for the psychological damage of the original sexual victimization. And victimization is the only proper word for one person using another's body for sexual pleasure without any intent of a permanent and exclusive relationship. In fact, the victim may return to the aggressor time and time again because of sexual bonding, the real reason for the phrase, "love is blind."

As long as TAMS and others who fancy themselves advocates for teens continue to promote the failed sexual revolution, they do not deserve the confidence of society, much less of parents. When young teens, questioning their sexual orientation, are directed to "support groups" where they can develop "meaningful relationships," and when adolescents are taught that if they use the right technology, there are no consequences to sexual promiscuity, could things get any worse if their families found out about it?

Actually, there is evidence that it would be better. When Minnesota had a parental notification law regarding abortion, not only abortions but all pregnancies went down for teens. Fear of disclosure, especially to ones we love, keeps all of us on a bit better behavior than if we think we can get away with something. Is it not loving to use that motivator?

Send comments to me at ross{at}

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