Tuesday, July 08, 2008

From Horribles to Grotesque

Just as I’ve said, the story of the Gloucester teen pregnancies isn’t going away. But I couldn’t have predicted how bizarre the story would turn.

On July 4th, the neighboring town of Beverly held its annual Horribles Parade. It is a tradition to dress up in funny or outrageous costumes and march down Main Street.

The Boston Globe describes one of the floats in the parade: “There were young men in diapers emerging from a female dummy’s open legs, condoms raining on preteen spectators, and a truck that simulated a part of the male anatomy and carried the mocking message: “Knock ‘em up high where expectations are low, Gloucester, MA.”

As if the invention of such a mocking float isn’t sickening enough, it also won second place for creativity.

The Globe tells of one mother along the parade route trying to convince her nine-year-old son that the packages of condoms he was picking up off the street were facial wipes.

When he didn’t buy it, the mother admitted to the reporter that she had some explaining to do. When she did tell her son about sex, the boy said he thought babies came from the baby store.

What the article reveals is that our culture is really messed up when it comes to sexual health.

Parents take note: Teaching kids about sexual health is a lifelong dialogue. It starts at birth – in how you communicate, listen, build trust, and set limits with your child.

Research shows that when families can talk about sexual health, young people tend to delay sexual intercourse and use protection when they do have sex. If these conversations take place early and often, it’s safe to assume that fewer teens would have babies, more nine-year-olds would know that babies don’t come from stores, and young adults like those on the grotesque Beverly float would be more likely to respect themselves and others.

Resources
Raising Healthy Kids: Families Talk About Sexual Health
Words Can Work: When Talking With Kids About Sexual Health
What Works: Sexuality Education

Related Issues and Answers columns
Parents as educators
Postponing sex
Self-respect
Talking with kids

Related columns for young people

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