The Power of No in Parenting and Education

I first have to say that I know a lot of great teenagers. I’m immensely proud of my sons and almost as much so of many of their friends. I stopped as I was writing this and nearly discarded it, keenly aware that I could inadvertently hurt one of these great kids by causing them to think that this essay was directed at them. It’s not. This for the millions, the lost, not the dozens I know so well.

As comforting as the example of these fine young people is to me personally, it’s nonetheless true that some parents and society as a whole have failed to teach a sizable percentage of this generation of young adults the value of the word “No”. No, as in:

  • “The actions you are taking are unacceptable and will be met with punishment if you repeat them.”
  • “The line of thinking you are pursuing is invalid and these are the unassailable reasons why.”
  • “The things you see in video games, movies, and on the Net are not representative of proper ways of behaving.”
  • “There are people who say that there are no absolutes, no truly right or wrong actions, no definable moral code; however, these people are absolutely wrong and in this house you will follow a code of ethics and morality or face the consequences.”

Our young people hear the word “No” often enough, but in the wrong ways. In our schools and in too many homes, the word “No” is used to tell children that they cannot judge themselves and others in terms of right and wrong, that they cannot hold opinions that might conflict with others’, no matter how obviously foolish, and they certainly cannot give such opinions voice. At other times, “No” is used to say, “No, you cannot be educated to the best of your ability because that would mean someone else cannot keep up with you” and “You cannot carry on the traditions of Christmas and Easter here, because one person chooses to be offended by the things that this country has always believed in.” In such circumstances, it’s hardly surprising that value of the word “No” has been destroyed.

At the same time, in politically correct circles, the idea of judging and correcting a wayward child is all but verboten. There are no right or wrong actions, only ambiguous desires and causeless effects, neither of which have any moral value attached. In progressives’ fantasy world, children grow up free and unhindered by anything as base as ethical judgments of their actions and automatically self-correct their aberrant behavior.

Of course, we see the effects of this failed experiment all around us. Raising children in an amoral, rule-free manner will not reliably result in young adults who live by a well-ordered, societally-sanctioned code of ethics. It is true that many youngsters rise above their upbringing and do so to their credit; however, at the macro level, this way of creating future citizens is doomed to fail. The lack of obedience and proper behavior we see in many of our youngsters is both the ultimate failure of liberal permissiveness and its inevitable result.

In our enlightened society, punishment of misbehaving children is considered crude, gauche, and even criminal. Yet there is no way for children to learn that their actions and thought processes are wrong unless someone corrects them.  Sometimes, this has to be done with enough oomph to make the lesson stick. Unfortunately, as unpleasant as it is – and it is unpleasant, for adult and child alike – there are occasions when the best mechanism for the delivery of a rebuke or reminder is by way of the buttocks.

(Understand that I am not suggesting anything in regard to the perpetrator of the crimes in Connecticut. Some children become even more incorrigible as a result of a structured, moral upbringing and this might or might not be true of this psycho. I have no idea and not much more interest. What is important is fixing the future.)

In the final analysis, considering society as a whole, there is no doubt in my mind that we have erred by sparing the rod and spoiling too many children. The sad fact is that, by pandering to the don’t worry, be happy, do-it-if-it-feels-right crowd, we have vastly diminished the rights of parents and the community to demand good and proper behavior from children and their ability to enforce their rightful authority.

Study: TV Sex Leads to Teen Pregnancies

The Washington Post reports that a new study has determined the obvious: teenagers who watch sexually explicit programs on television are more likely to become pregnant than those who don’t.

“Watching this kind of sexual content on television is a powerful factor in increasing the likelihood of a teen pregnancy,” said lead researcher Anita Chandra. “We found a strong association.” The study is being published today in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

About 25 percent of those who watched the most were involved in a pregnancy, compared with about 12 percent of those who watched the least. The researchers took into account other factors such as having only one parent, wanting to have a baby and engaging in other risky behaviors.

Surprise, surprise.  More:

Although TV viewing is unlikely to entirely explain the possible uptick in teen pregnancies, Chandra and others said, the study provides the first direct evidence that it could be playing a significant role.

“Sexual content on television has doubled in the last few years, especially during the period of our research,” said Chandra, a researcher at the nonpartisan Rand Corp.

Studies have found a link between watching television shows with sexual content and becoming sexually active earlier, and between sexually explicit music videos and an increased risk of sexually transmitted diseases. And many studies have shown that TV violence seems to make children more aggressive. But the new research is the first to show an association between TV watching and pregnancy among teens.

The study doesn’t weigh in on the debate between advocates of sex education in public schools and those who favor spending public money on abstinence-only programs.  That argument can be expected to continue during an Obama presidency that I expect will put more emphasis on the former.

Neither approach is likely to be a silver bullet because the problem is multi-faceted, the major players being teens themselves, their parents, their friends, and the media.  The last of these is now inescapably linked to the biggest problems that teenagers face in America.  But the media’s response is likely to be to ignore their culpability. 

As Time says, TV sex is getting more and more explicit in shows targeting kids.  Sex sells, even to teens and younger children, and that’s evidently broadcasters’ business model.

Sex on TV has come a long way in the past few years. Anyone who saw the first episode of 90210— a pair of students engage in oral sex in the first episode of the new sequel to Beverly Hills 90210 — can attest to that.

As the only influencing factors in a teenager’s life that are truly capable of caring or changing their behavior, it’s up to parents to reject the inappropriate influence of media in their children’s lives.  It’s also incumbent on them to take up the matter of sex and marriage with their kids at an earlier age than ever before, before it’s too late.

Birth Control Rules

Following on to yesterday’s piece about birth (and death) control, here’s more from ABC News:

The Department of Health and Human Services draft proposal, which began circulating around Capitol Hill last week, would require hospitals receiving federal funds to certify that, in their hiring, they do not discriminate against people who refuse to provide forms of contraception, such as birth control pills, due to personal religious beliefs.

Hillary Clinton started the revolt and now 104 members of the House have written a letter to President Bush, saying:

"The regulation’s definitions are so broad as to go far beyond abortion politics and threaten virtually any law or policy designed to protect women’s access to safe and effective birth control. The department does this primarily by defining ‘abortion’ in a way that could sweep in many common forms of birth control," the lawmakers write in the letter.

"It would allow any provider, who wants to deny a woman emergency contraception or even birth control pills, to claim protection based on a personal belief that such pills fit the regulatory definition."

This last bit is interesting.  From the vantage point the pols are taking, the rule may deny patients access to contraception.  As they say, this is neither right nor desirable.  Yet that is not the end of the discussion, for it’s also not right to force a doctor to provide a service he/she finds morally repugnant.

The obvious solution is for the patient to simply find a doctor whose moral values are harmonious.  That’s perfect!  Free choice and everyone is happy, right?  Or they would be, if patients had unrestricted access to medical providers.

Unfortunately this is not the case.  Low-income patients are often unable to choose physicians freely because of transportation and cost issues.  Even privately insured patients are often denied the ability to choose a compatible doctor due to insurance plan restrictions.  In other words, the problem is with the American health care system itself, not the rules that would guarantee physicians’ rights to practice medicine as their conscience guides them to.

Be that as it may it’s undoubtedly the administration’s attempt to enforce the law that will draw heat from the letter’s writers and their supporters while the defective system will muddle onward and downward, particularly if a Democratic universal coverage plan is enacted.  No point in dealing with the root of the problem, is there?

Meanwhile, the self-appointed advocates for female emancipation are out for blood.  Echidne says that, "The Best Contraceptive Pill…According to the abstinence folks is probably an aspirin firmly held between the woman’s knees."

Holding onto such a magic pill would certainly be good advice for teenage girls, particularly those in socio-economic brackets in which their rapacious beaus have an extraordinary propensity to fail to provide fatherhood to their unfortunate progeny.

Despite the many virtues of childhood chastity – teen pregnancy being only the most obvious – both Echidne and Digby have new posts up raking Christian purity balls over the coals. 

From Time’s level treatment of the father/daughter events:

GIRLS RECITING PLEDGE:…to remain sexually pure…until the day I give myself as a wedding gift to my husband. … I know that God requires this of me.. that he loves me…and that he will reward me for my faithfulness.

Purity is certainly a loaded word–but is there anyone who thinks it’s a good idea for 12-year-olds to have sex? Or a bad idea for fathers to be engaged in the lives of their daughters and promise to practice what they preach? Parents won’t necessarily say this out loud, but isn’t it better to set the bar high and miss than not even try?

In response, Digby says:

Some of these little girls are only six years old. They don’t even know what their "purity" means until daddy tells them that it belongs to him, the "high priest" in his home. And no, it’s not a good idea for dads to be this involved in their daughter’s nascent sex lives. In fact, it’s completely inappropriate and weird for a daughter to pledge her virginity into her father’s keeping for him to "give" to her husband. Are we really going to pretend that the "memories" they are making with this sick shit is something to celebrate?

Whether Digby agrees or not, it’s certainly true that two of the best things young men and women can bring into a new marriage are a pure heart and a pure body.  It’s deceit of the highest order to pretend that promiscuity doesn’t hurt young people and girls more so than boys, whether the sex results in an unwanted pregnancy or not.  Couching the lie in the guise of women’s rights does not make it more true. 

That said, there is something in her post, despite its liberal use of repellent anti-Christian dogma, that strikes a chord with me.  Specifically, the near obsession that some men have with the romantic activities of their teenage daughters. 

The dictation of rules such as no boyfriends, no holding hands, no phone calls, etc., are common policies in the homes of some Christian families.  Not the majority, to be sure, but still common.  While usually well-intentioned, I don’t agree that "no tolerance" rules for boy-girl contact are best for a young lady’s emotional growth.

Perhaps this opinion stems from a bad relationship I had with a teenage girl’s father, but there’s something fundamentalist about fathers who exercise too much direct control over a girl’s body, something faintly disturbing, even if it never manifests itself in a Muslim-style honor killing, say.

Some parents disagree, saying that anything that keeps a girl from coming home from the high school dance knocked up is justifiable.  Parenting is, after all, a question of priorities and it’s up to individual families to set their own, with or without Digby’s approval.

I lead a Christian book study group and my back of the envelope numbers tell me that a vast majority of the people who have been through my class have had to carry the burden of a "pre-marriage" pregnancy.  Frankly, after what some of these guys (and gals) have been through because they made bad sexual choices when they were young, I find it hard to condemn any father or mother for clamping down on their daughters’ choices.  That’s true even though I don’t always agree with their approaches.

Digby is right that purity pledges should wait until a girl or boy understands the meaning of what they are promising.  It’s only then that a meaningful promise can be made.  There we part company because children would be both godly and wise to refrain from sexual activity at least until they are independent adults.  Why?  Because they are neither emotionally or fiscally capable of assuming the consequences of their actions.

If it takes a girl making a purity pledge to her father to reach that end, so be it.

Obama’s Father’s Day Message

Barack Obama to black men:  "Fatherhood doesn’t end at conception." 

Right on.  If Obama is to deliver on his promise of positive change, that’s perhaps the area in which he can do the most good.


“Too many fathers are M.I.A, too many fathers are AWOL, missing from too many lives and too many homes,” Mr. Obama said, to a chorus of approving murmurs from the audience. “They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it.”

“But we also need families to raise our children,” he said. “We need fathers to realize that responsibility doesn’t just end at conception. That doesn’t just make you a father. What makes you a man is not the ability to have a child. Any fool can have a child. That doesn’t make you a father. It’s the courage to raise a child that makes you a father.”

This is a great, much-needed message – I hope it’s received.

The Times writer gets something else right too:

Mr. Obama laid out his case in stark terms that would be difficult for a white candidate to make

Indeed.  I loathe Mr. Obama’s liberal agenda.  Loathe it.  However, if he’s to be our next president – and I think he will be – some good may come of the resulting national ordeal if he’s able to change the culture of young black males in America.

Effects of Feminism

Rebecca Walker, daughter of feminism and author Alice Walker, who publicly called her own child a calamity in her life, has some interesting things to say about the movement.  Well worth reading.

the truth was I was very lonely and, with my mother’s knowledge, started having sex at 13. I guess it was a relief for my mother as it meant I was less demanding. And she felt that being sexually active was empowering for me because it meant I was in control of my body.

A good mother is attentive, sets boundaries and makes the world safe for her child. But my mother did none of those things.

Although I was on the Pill  -  something I had arranged at 13, visiting the doctor with my best friend  -  I fell pregnant at 14. I organised an abortion myself. Now I shudder at the memory. I was only a little girl. I don’t remember my mother being shocked or upset. She tried to be supportive, accompanying me with her boyfriend.

Although I believe that an abortion was the right decision for me then, the aftermath haunted me for decades. It ate away at my self-confidence and, until I had Tenzin, I was terrified that I’d never be able to have a baby because of what I had done to the child I had destroyed. For feminists to say that abortion carries no consequences is simply wrong.

As a child, I was terribly confused, because while I was being fed a strong feminist message, I actually yearned for a traditional mother.

I know many women are shocked by my views. They expect the daughter of Alice Walker to deliver a very different message. Yes, feminism has undoubtedly given women opportunities. It’s helped open the doors for us at schools, universities and in the workplace. But what about the problems it’s caused for my contemporaries?

Then there is the issue of not having children. Even now, I meet women in their 30s who are ambivalent about having a family. They say things like: ‘I’d like a child. If it happens, it happens.’ I tell them: ‘Go home and get on with it because your window of opportunity is very small.’ As I know only too well.

Then I meet women in their 40s who are devastated because they spent two decades working on a PhD or becoming a partner in a law firm, and they missed out on having a family. Thanks to the feminist movement, they discounted their biological clocks. They’ve missed the opportunity and they’re bereft.

Feminism has betrayed an entire generation of women into childlessness. It is devastating.

But far from taking responsibility for any of this, the leaders of the women’s movement close ranks against anyone who dares to question them  -  as I have learned to my cost.

Walker’s views closely mirror those of Lori Gottlieb, who wrote this popular, much-debated article for Atlantic a few months ago.

There’s something to this, I think.  Even if it’s nothing more than the opportunity cost of a chance not taken, getting something always means giving up something else.

Has feminism been worth the cost to those who have been on its front lines?  And what about the families they left behind by not having them or not being there?

The questions applies to many men as well, of course, although it’s less interesting to me because our work/sport-centric lifestyles haven’t undergone the radical change that feminism demands of young women.

Having children does enslave women, in a certain sense of the word.  Many mothers give up a good portion of their lives for their children.  Of course, the same is true for men – at least the ones who don’t run away from their responsibilities.  Having children is the most demanding activity in a person’s life, man or woman.  It’s also the only thing worth doing on this planet.

Why American Education Stinks

Despite spending vast amounts on our primary education system, the United States is getting only moderate return on that investment.

In primary education, on a per-pupil basis, the United States spent 66 percent more than Germany, 56 percent more than France, 27 percent more than Japan, 80 percent more than the United Kingdom, 62 percent more than Belgium, and 122 percent more than South Korea.

High school figures were similar.

Despite this spending, the United States ranked fifteenth among the thirty-one countries that participated in the OECD’s 2000 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) reading exam. Ireland, Iceland, and New Zealand were among those that outperformed us while spending far less per pupil. The results in math are equally disquieting: on the 1999 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, the United States ranked nineteenth of thirty-eight participating countries. Most troubling is that America’s standing actually deteriorates as students spend more time in school.

Why in the heck is that?  Here are three examples that illustrate the problems rather concisely.  First, the recent story from Florida, a state in which people were unable to read the ballot properly in the 2000 presidential election, about a teacher fired for "wizardry" highlights a common problem with school administrators:  the inability to make common-sense value judgments about right and wrong behavior on campus.

Jim Piculas worked as a substitute teacher at a middle school about 30 minutes from Tampa, Florida.

One day he made a toothpick "disappear" then "reappear" in front of his students, but the next day he got a call from his supervisor saying he didn’t need to return to campus.

Poof!  Piculas’ job disappeared.  Over a magic trick?  Ridiculous.  The district says that there were other issues involved, a claim Piculas disputes.

Second, many of the students we ask our teachers and administrators to educate are quite simply beyond the redemptive powers of a one-size-fits-all education system, as exemplified recently in Los Angeles when a gang rumble exploded into a melee between literally hundreds of students.

A fight between rival groups of black and Latino students at Locke High School quickly escalated into a campus-wide melee Friday, with as many as 600 students brawling until police restored calm with billy clubs.

The troubled campus in South Los Angeles was locked down after the fight broke out at 12:55 p.m., as students returned from lunch to their fifth-period classes. Overwhelmed school officials called Los Angeles police for help, but students and faculty said it took about half an hour before dozens of officers, many in riot gear, restored order.

This is exactly what one should expect from a system in which education is forced on teenagers who do not value it.  Education, when viewed as a right, is a burden and a waste of time.  Only when it’s understood to be a privilege can it have value.

It’s a joke on the vast numbers of bright, hard-working American students to be forced through a system that forces them to attempt to learn in hostile, even dangerous conditions.  They deserve better; however, they’ll never get it unless adults learn that, rhetoric aside, some children must be left behind for the rest to move forward.

Third, many behavioral issues are the result of poor or completely absent parenting.  Take this post in which Michelle Malkin mocks the worst prom dress of the year, a sluttish outfit a seasoned professional prostitute would be embarrassed to be caught dead in.  Yet it’s good enough for a school formal.  Pathetic.

Dazed, Michelle ponders the imponderable:

Where was the adult in this teenager’s life to block the door and say: “Nuh-UH, no way in hell you’re stepping out that door. Go put some clothes on or I’ll make you wear a sleeping bag to your prom.”

Classiness, RIP.

Of course, who’s to say that girl has any adult role model worth mentioning?  Yet even given a complete dearth of decent women in her life the child surely knows that what she’s wearing is completely inappropriate – that’s the whole point.

Until a significant number of adults are willing to step up to the plate and do the hard work of laying down the law to the students and parents involved in these behavioral debacles I see no chance of things changing anytime soon.

1st Grade Harassment

In pointing out another case of legalistic lunacy, Susan Duclos writes:

The "zero tolerance" policy at some school and in some states, reaches levels of complete incompetence when a 6 years gets written up as a sexual offender for copying what another kid did and playfully smacking little Katherine DeLeon on the bottom twice.

Where is the line drawn between zero tolerance and common sense?

When are school officials going to start using judgment instead of some generic general rule to decide a case on an individual basis?

In what alternate reality do we live in where a six year old or a four year old are accused of being a sexual offender, simply because they are too young to understand their natural inclination to play and touch are wrong?

I don’t want to justify this kind of gutless, inept decision, because it’s wrong and stupid just as Spree says.  But there are many reasons why school officials make these kind of decisions and it’s important for parents who care – which is a minority, to be sure – to realize that they aren’t made in a complete vacuum. 

Let’s touch on a few, shall we?

First, realize that when little Johnny can’t behave during school, teachers and principals are usually powerless to discipline him in a manner that teaches the cause-effect relationship; i.e., misbehave repeatedly in school and an unpleasant rump-paddling will occur.  Bad behavior stops.  But that’s so direct, it’s offensive to the refined values of a certain misguided segment of the parental population, to say nothing of the know-it-alls who define what are and are not acceptable ways to teach children.

Strike 1.

Second, consider the effect that a single willfully ignorant parent has on an entire classroom of children.  Given that real discipline cannot be meted out during school hours – somehow assigning extra work to a kid who doesn’t do his regular assignments just isn’t effective… go figure – teachers must rely on Johnny’s mom and dad to take care of modifying his bad behavior.  That works about as well as you’d expect given that his parents are the ones who have molded his actions from the time of his birth.

Far too often mom and dad either refuse to attend parent-teacher conferences as scheduled or show up only to blindly defend their child.  Yes, it’s unpleasant to be told that one’s baby is a brat or a bully or refuses to give teachers and classmates the respect they deserve.  It’s hard.  But it’s often the truth and too many parents refuse to accept what they’re being told.  Parental follow-up is therefore lacking in many discipline situations.

Strike 2.

Third, teachers and principals are college-educated individuals, most of whom have a genuine desire to teach their students to the best of their ability.  They are also over-stressed, over-worked (during the school year), and woefully under-paid relative to their education level, job requirements, and, most importantly, expectations.  As a result, burnout is common.

Common sense, which is lacking, I realize, tells me that teachers ought to take a break in their careers to do something different for a while, to interact with other adults in professional settings and to get their enthusiasm back.

But this is discouraged by administrators who often have trouble simply filling teaching slots with qualified instructors to begin with.  The problem is further exacerbated by the teachers union and the retirement system that it has put in place. 

There is only one way for an educator to grow old in relative prosperity after working for decades for low wages:  retire through the Teachers Retirement System.  This requires varying years of service depending on one’s locale but is certainly at least 20 years and often more.

The system is thus heavily back-loaded and forces educators to continue working in the profession when their interest level and enthusiasm – very important qualities in a teacher – have waned or vanished.

This is important when it comes to cases like the one in question because using common sense, as Spree rightly demands, can be a risky endeavor.  This is especially true when a teacher or principal can be called to account in front of the school board for failing to invoke the applicable but draconian policy called for by the district’s policy manual.

The truth is that educators often cannot afford to act as reason tells them to for fear of legal repercussions or outright fear of physical assault at the hands of parents.

Strike 3.

So yes, it’s a bad, useless decision to label a 6-year-old as a sex offender. 

An assistant director of the National Association of School Psychologists, Ted Feinberg, says he is "stunned" by the school’s reaction to a child of six that has no concept of what those behaviors mean and he states, "I believe they do not have the capacity for awareness of sexual motivation … it seems like a gross mislabeling of the behavior and an overreaction."

It’s also something that can be reasonably predicted given the environment in which educators find themselves.

Obama: Sense and Nonsense

Inside every candidate there are multiple personalities, each of whom run the show in turn, depending on who the audience is.  Barack Obama is no different than any other.  He’s touched on personal responsibility before and he does it well by not trying to pull any punches, as in Gary, Indiana today:

"You should have a curfew in your house so your children aren’t out in the streets all night. You should meet with the teacher and find out what the homework is and help that child with the homework. And if you don’t know how to do the homework, don’t be embarrassed, find someone to help you."

"Fathers, be fathers," he added. "Be a part of your child’s life. Be a part of your child’s life and try to make them proud.

"And the last thing is, if your child is misbehaving at school don’t curse out the teacher. You know who you are. It’s not the teacher’s fault that your child is misbehaving. That’s some home training."

The crowd reacted raucously and Obama laughed. "You know what I say is true, though. Don’t blame the teachers, and the government and the schools if you’re not doing your job."

This is a message that both needs to be articulated and cuts a swath of truth across all racial and socio-economic strata.  Well done, Mr. Obama.  Now, if only he would extend that idea of individual responsibility to its logical conclusion:  fiscal and social conservatism.

Unfortunately, it was too good to be true.  Here’s Obama speaking in front of the rich and shameless, the left-wing elite in San Francisco:

You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and, like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them…And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not.

And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Where is this coming from?  Hopefully it’s just the repressed super-ego that Obama only shows off at glitzy gatherings of the uber-rich in order to make them feel at home with him.  Such is the power of condescension – it makes for fine and lasting friendships, so long as there’s someone to mock.

Will the real Barack Obama please stand up for himself?

Abortion Bills Stall in Congress

Samantha Torrence says:  "One of the major societal epidemics in America today is the lack of respect for not only the sanctity of life, but a lack of love for our own children."  No surprise that this comes during an epidemic of self-indulgent, irresponsible behavior.  Suffering the consequences for one’s actions, it seems, is no fun.  So why bother?

The purpose of Torrence’s post is to promote this bill put forth by Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) and his co-sponsors and similar legislation.  Ryan’s bill, which has yet to have a vote, would:

    (1) reduce the abortion rate by reducing the number of unintended pregnancies and supporting women facing unplanned pregnancies;

    (2) prevent unintended pregnancies from occurring in the first place–

      (A) by reducing teen pregnancy through education, after-school and other programs, and involving parents; and

      (B) by extending Medicaid family planning services to more low-income women; and

    (3) support pregnant women, new parents, and their children, through measures that address domestic violence and sexual assault, provide health care services, information about pregnancy, and other supportive services for pregnant women, and provide supportive services for new parents.

Certainly these are worthy goals, as well as being a fiscally-sound investment:  The bill specifically states:  "By helping couples avoid unintended pregnancy, Medicaid-funded and Title X contraceptive services are highly cost-effective, and every public dollar spent on family planning saves $3 in the cost of pregnancy-related care alone."  It’s a logical argument and would make for sound policy, I think.

But I still can’t help but wonder about the fundamental reason why poor women – 73% of women having abortions cited financial fears as a contributing factor – allow themselves to become pregnant.  Yes, mistakes get made.  But so many?  If I’m too poor to have a child, I’m certainly too poor to have unprotected sex.

It’s a fallacy to think that education is the problem.  The Ryan bill states that 49% of all pregnancies are unintended.  Are we to believe that this is because of ignorance?  Obviously not.  Virtually every person living in America who is over 10 years of age knows how babies are made.  Access to cheap birth control might reduce pregnancies, but I doubt it for one simple reason:  Birth control is not expensive, even at market rates.

Another strike against sex education as the core of an unwanted pregnancy reduction strategy is that "only" 20% of abortions are performed on teenaged girls, which means that 80% of abortions are performed on women who fully understand the facts of life.

That’s why I don’t think that Sex Ed is that meaningful in terms of solving the problem.  Feel free to shoot me down.

Even so, I believe that schools ought to offer Sex Ed programs.  Every little bit helps.  Adults have the information and there’s only one valid reason for us not to share it with our youth:  parental objections.  So let people opt out of the classes and start holding them, by all means.  Just don’t plan on distributing birth control through schools – that’s a bit much.

Torrence goes on to link unwanted pregnancies to child abuse and infant homicide, two very probably follow-ons to a mother carrying to term a child who isn’t wanted :

There must be something we are missing here as a society, obviously there has been much progress in the concerns over unplanned pregnancies with minor setbacks. … Why are 14 year olds killing their children or clueless to being pregnant, for that matter why are they sexually active? … Why are Americans killing viable fetuses and then are surprised when someone kills a newborn?

There are a lot of things that we could blame our dysfunction on – Vietnam, hippies, drugs, Bill Clinton, CNN, etc.  But it really all boils down to a fundamental reduction in the amount of character people in this country have, compared to previous generations. 

George H.W. Bush tried to campaign on this issue in 1992 against Bill Clinton.  As a young man I remember hearing his speech when he called for more "personal responsibility" on the part of every American.  I laughed.  Who could possibly think that was a viable campaign issue?  Turns out that he was right.  Like a good portion of Americans, I just wasn’t mature enough to understand what he was talking about.  The Clinton presidency was our reward for shallow thinking.

Many women who face an unwanted pregnancy do so because their so-called "man" fails to live up to his obligations.  That’s a character issue that transcends race and age boundaries.  Children who grow up without a father often do so for the same reason – lack of character on the part of their sire.  In other cases both parents are utter failures and doom their children to repeating a life like their own.

No government program or well-intentioned bill will change that until individual men – and some women too – decide that children, who should be the pride and joy of every parent and are the hope of this nation, matter enough that they will sacrifice some of their time, money, and even happiness now so that their son or daughter can grow up in decent environment.

It’s hard being a parent.  Sometimes it is a job that’s miserable beyond words.  But a man who abandons his child is no man at all, regardless of how cool his ride is, how much he can bench, or how many notches he’s got on his bedpost.

Too many boys in America don’t know this.  They don’t have a clue how to be a man.  So show them.  Meet your obligations to these boys, whether they’re your sons, nephews, grandsons, or neighborhood strays. 

Love them.  Keep your promises.  If you don’t know how to do that, start here.  Be a man.  Jesus would.  There’s no reason why we can’t.

No Right to Home School

Michelle Malkin has this story about a California court that has issued an outrageously harsh – and grotesquely incorrect – indictment against the practice of home-schooling.

From the LA Times:

"Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children," wrote Justice H. Walter Croskey in a Feb. 28 opinion signed by the two other members of the district court. "Parents who fail to [comply with school enrollment laws] may be subject to a criminal complaint against them, found guilty of an infraction, and subject to imposition of fines or an order to complete a parent education and counseling program."

"Parent education and counseling"??  Sounds suspiciously like a force-fed indoctrination into the state’s vision of PC multiculturalism.  Suppose a parent refuses to attend.  Is he or she looking at jail time as a result?

That’s unconstitutional, Judge Croskey, as is the very idea of penalizing parent for refusing to participate in a system that they find morally repugnant.

As Michelle says, there’s a rank smell about this ruling, coming as it does on the heels of a Christian rebellion in the state over SB 777, a new law signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

SB 777, or the California Student Civil Rights Act, requires "nondiscrimination" against sexual orientation, as well as other characteristics. Opponents take that to mean favorable teaching about homosexuality, bisexuality, gender identity and any and every other form of sexual expression for which there is an advocate.

It isn’t just the sexual re-programming. That’s symbolic of a larger problem. The government schools want to shape a child’s mind in ways that reflect a mostly liberal, humanistic worldview. This has implications for a child’s understanding of economics, foreign policy, American history and the size and purpose of government, in addition to what once were known as "traditional values."

This month the jack-booted thugs of liberalism came for civil rights in California.   

For all their hot-headed, anti-Bush rhetoric decrying the loss of freedoms due to the administration’s expansion of national security surveillance programs, so-called progressives are all for sweeping limitations on individual liberties when it suits their various agendas. 

But we already knew that. 

Some California parents will fight back, but here’s a good chance that no one in power will do anything to stop the curtailment of personal freedom in that state. 

The question is:  When the liberal fascists come to your state or country, what will you do?