“How could you do that”

We ask students to be open with their situations, but when they reach out for guidance concerning their frowned upon situation, we shame them.

February 10, 2017

 

“Come on, just spit it out!” “Seriously I do not have time for this” “What could really be that bad?” “You can tell me anything, come on!”

We demand that people own up and admit to their mistakes. We convince them whatever they are trying to tell us can’t be that bad. But as soon as they speak, we cut them off, questioning how on earth they could have done what they have done.

“How could you be so stupid? What on earth were you thinking? Do you see the mess you’ve made? I am so disappointed in you. I can not believe what you have done, you really messed up this time”

A mistake: an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong.

An accident: an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.  

Perfection: the condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

Perfection is not real; mistakes and accidents, however, are all too real.

Unfortunately, we as a society have somehow gotten these truths flipped. We stress the importance of honesty, and being transparent with those around us, but when someone abides by these expectations, if things are not ideal, they are dishonorable.

While it is important to make those who have done something wrong aware of their mistake in order to fix them in the future, we should not do so in such a harmful manner. There are more beneficial and abetting ways to go about handling situations in which someone has goofed. Talking to someone is different than yelling at someone; it can mean the difference between someone feeling forgiven and accepted, and someone retreating back into their lonesome, prone to making another mistake.

We expect our students to take responsibilities for their actions, but we punish them when they open up and admit to their mistakes. Students are afraid to reach out because when they do they are ridiculed for their poor choices. “How could you be so stupid” or “Why would you do this” are not the words they need to hear. They know they have messed up, they know you are going to be angry, but what has happened has happened.

It is vital to keep in mind that actions have consequences not only for ourselves but those who have messed up as well. What has happened is something they regret, as they are dealing with the same- if not more- repercussions than you. Further critique becomes abusive and hostile and only makes the situation even messier.

The idea of having these difficult conversations of admitting their faults is frightening as is, the addition of someone they trust intense disappointment only makes things worse. This immediate criticism rather than support encourages them to return to seclusion and closed doors. If we want them to be open, and let others in, we need to change our approach.

By mocking someone’s situation — whether it be a pregnancy, abortion, an STD, a drug problem, a break-up, a bad grade on a test, or a car accident — we degrade their worth, and confidence in others. We give the impression we are only there to help them if they are ‘perfect’ and as soon as they are not, we want nothing to do with it.

Be nicer. Be more accepting. If it is communication we want, being so judgmental of their response defeats the purpose. If we shoot down their plea for help before they can finish their sentence, how are they supposed to continue wanting to be more honest with those around them.

If we want teens to stop being so secretive, we need to be welcoming. Talk, don’t yell. Listen, don’t ignore. And above all, support, don’t shame.

Shaming is the root of this stigma around the ‘talk.’ We have placed this negative connotation around the act of sex. In some cases, even just a sexual activity is thought to be shameful, and this is why students are intimidated by this conversation. We can not expect people to speak if they are silenced when they open their mouths. We can not expect people to be comfortable enough to ask for guidance if they are shamed.

Advocates for youth is a site designed to be of help to both the student and the parents in working through these difficult situations.

http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/the-facts-parent-child-communication

Cdc.gov, a site available to provide information of disease, protection, health, etc. This article is geared towards parents, or guardians struggling to support or talk to your child about a difficult conversation, such as sex.

https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/protective/pdf/talking_teens.pdf

Thrive provides resources and information to promote safety and well-being of teens. If you are looking to reach out and seek help but are afraid of the consequences, reactions, or don’t have someone to reach out to there is someone who can help.

http://thrivestlouis.org/

(636) 278-1212

24 Hour Helpline: 314.773.4626

Text: FREETEST to 25827

Planned Parenthood also provides a health hotline for teens in need of help. 

https://www.plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-massachusetts/online-health-center/sexual-health-hotline

CDC is a resource for health and safety. This article is designed to help someone who is concerned they might have an STD.

https://www.cdc.gov/std/life-stages-populations/stdfact-teens.htm

“Since you’re gay…”

Sexualities should be taught in school, without it kids are left to educate themselves

“Well, when a man and a woman love each other very much…..” The prototypical explanation of sex for young children, the “how babies are made” talk, the beginning of a discussion on sex that will continue through the rest of the child’s school career in the form of sex ed, this one statement begins a life of being told that sex is between a man and woman.

From the first time students take a sex ed class all the way through 9th grade health, this “standard” definition of sex is drilled into kids’ minds: a man and a woman, aiming to make a baby. This mindset, however, can wind up being incredibly harmful, specifically for students who may not fit this mold, students whose sexualities don’t quite align with what they’ve been taught.

Growing up a non-straight child, I remember this image of the nuclear couple being hammered into my mind repeatedly, leaving little room for anything else. There was never a single mention of how sometimes this wasn’t necessarily the case, how sometimes a man loves a man or a woman loves a woman, and, being a queer child, this both frustrated and confused me.

It made it exponentially more difficult for me to sort out my own feelings when I was being told every day in my health class that I was biologically programmed to be with a man, that there was no kind of intimacy outside of straight couples. And I know I’m not the only kid who has faced this issue; I have had friends approach me with questions about their sexuality and about sex that could easily have been covered in a health class, but instead, we are forced to learn through less reliable means, such as each other or the Internet.

This can easily cause a spread of misinformation that can be potentially harmful to the gay community, leaving us in the dark about not only biological sex-based questions such as the spread of STDs, but also simply ignorance of other sexualities that could help teenagers more easily understand the feelings they are having.

Now, I know that this may seem as though it’s attempting to “turn kids gay” or encourage non-straight sex, but that is not the goal at all. Chances are, if a child were to hear about a certain sexuality, they would not be “turned gay” — they would simply find a label for preexisting feelings, allowing them to be more comfortable with themselves and confident in their sexuality, instead of turning being gay into this whole struggle that it currently is. Instead of grappling with the notion of not being straight, wondering if they’ve simply made up an identity, hating themselves because they have been taught over and over again that a man is supposed to be with a woman and vice versa, they could simply realize and accept who they are without the destructive part in between.

And as for encouraging gay sex, teaching about different methods of protection for same-sex couples and why they are important encourages these behaviors just as much as teaching about reproduction and STDs that can be transmitted by straight people does. Both help alleviate ignorance and assist students in avoiding harmful situations should they decide to partake in these activities, no matter their sexuality.

This alleviation of ignorance can apply to straight kids as well; many grow up with misconceptions and simple educational gaps when it comes to the gay community, as parents often don’t teach it at home and straight kids have little reason to seek out this information on their own. This just further ostracizes the LGBTQ community, making us seem abnormal and confusing because we are different and don’t quite fit what most kids know. It’s become almost expected for straight friends to inevitably ask me sexuality-based questions, whether about sex or simply about sexuality as a concept. It’s commonplace for a friend to randomly ask me rather invasive questions, prefaced with “hey, since you’re gay….” While I gladly answer such questions, being someone always willing to help provide information, it’s sad in a way to have so many people repeatedly ask me the same questions, ones that could have easily been answered in health class and thus spread to a much wider base as well. It would prevent the spread of misinformation and ignorance all-around, benefitting any student who is queer, knows a queer person, or has questions regarding queer people — meaning everyone.

Health class is meant to teach all students, not just a select group. Right now, while it does teach certain universal topics, it tends to be focused solely on straight couples. This needs to change. Health classes must cover different sexualities — what they are, what it means, and how to have safe sex outside of simply the basics. Otherwise, kids will continue to struggle in accepting themselves and each other; we simply can not do this to our children any longer. We don’t need to suppress who they are; regardless of one’s views, gay people exist and must be acknowledged, and this begins with educating our youth.

 

“But rape isn’t like that”

Rape is more common than many people are aware of and awareness should be brought to it

Rape does not just happen in some back alley of the city. Rape is not committed by just the large, scary individual that overpowers someone. Rape victims are not just single women. Rape is when sex, or any sexual activity, happens between people without the consent of both parties, and it can happen to any person no matter the circumstances.

According to Rainn.org, approximately every 98 seconds, an American is sexually assaulted. That statistic is absolutely horrifying and it accounts for all people: the general public, inmates, children, and the military. And according to another statistic, about 55% of sexual assaults happen at or near the victim’s home.

There is a general outlook that rape is only these extreme, brutal cases, while these grab the most attention of the public eye, society as a whole should not ignore and push to the side the people whose significant other or friend forces them into sex that they do not consent to. No matter how it happened, being raped in some shape or form will affect someone either physically or mentally. the chances of someone getting rapped and it having no affect on them whatsoever is slim to none. Many people are seriously affected, and they are forced to keep their rape to themselves because people discredit their accounts and mark them off as insignificant.

It truly does not matter what happened, sex without consent constitutes rape and it is as simple as that. There is no bending the rules, using the excuse that they did not really say no or that they are your girlfriend or any other unjustified excuse a rapist can think of. Rape is rape.

Society as a whole needs to come to an understanding that rape happens and can happen to people of any shape or form, and that rape is not just the brutal cases you hear about on dateline.

Importance of Protection

Why you should use protection, and the safety it provides

“Why would you use a condom? Condoms are for wusses.” “It feels so much better without a condom.” These common statements made by students our age put young people at risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases. Students engage in sexual intercourse, and few but not enough know or care enough to have safe, protected sex.

Girls are having pregnancy scares and in some cases are getting pregnant in high school. Pregnancy is not only something girls have to go through, but guys have this life changing event as well. They, too, have to tell their parents that they got a girl pregnant, either because they didn’t have access to a condom, didn’t know how to use it, or didn’t care to. The absence of a condom could lead to not only pregnancy.

The chance of pregnancy alone should make someone want to use some form of protection, whether it be a condom, birth control or even plan B, an emergency contraception. Each of these has approximately about a 97% success rate in preventing pregnancy. When all of these are methods used together, the odds of getting pregnant decrease dramatically.

Why a person would take that risk of getting pregnant by having unprotected sex, does not make sense. This choice can lead to an unexpected pregnancy, having to find a good doctor, prepare for labor, and an extensive amount of other things. Above all, getting pregnant means she is going to have to learn to put that child before herself. While some girls are capable of taking the responsibility of taking care of a child while simultaneously being in high school, but a lot of us are nowhere near mature enough.

That says a lot, there are so many consequences to your actions. Just like not studying for a test and then getting a bad grade. It is the same concept, if you are going to have unprotected sex, you going to have to realize and understand what effects it will have on your life.

Not only is unprotected sex leading to pregnancy amongst teens, but also STD’s are present within school. More often than not people are suffering from an STD and are not aware of it. For instance, countless students see abnormalities to their body, or things that just aren’t right, or “aren’t normally here”, and jump to the conclusion that they have an STD, unprotected sex throughout the student body is so common that between their lack of knowledge of true warning signs of STD’s combined with their lack of protection, their immediate thought is they’ve gotten a sexually transmitted disease.

There are simple ways to protect yourself and your significant other. You can obviously use a condom, which prevents pregnancy, the spread of HPV or genital herpes, but you can also get a vaccination for hepatitis B, avoid sharing towels, wash before and after you have sexual intercourse, and talk to your doctor about any concerns you have.

There are many ways to prevent all of these things but not many people will do or take that extra step, and it is mostly because they are too scared to tell anybody. It is understandable, but when it comes to health, it is time to partake and talk to a parent, doctor, or even just a trusted adult.

Believe it or not, you can die from certain STD’s or if you end up pregnant, you could give your baby an STD, and not saying that it happens every time, but it is not impossible for that to happen. They spread quicker than you think, one our of four Americans has had an STD. That’s 25% of our population. Let’s not make it a bigger number.

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