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This Isn’t Harm Reduction – It’s The Enabling Of Even Greater Harm

I wrote yesterday about politicians and their inability to effectively confront and deal with the challenges of our evolving society. I picked on politicians primarily but the circle jerk isn’t confined only to them. Government in general has no clue how to deal with things.

You don’t have to look much further than how government deals with youth sex and the issues related to it.

Until the Conservative government changed the law in 2008, the sexual age of consent in Canada was 14; an age so young that some are just going through the first stages of puberty. Many progressive thinkers thought the younger age made Canada terribly advanced in its liberal thinking but it wasn’t. It was just more of the fuzzy logic that clouds good decision making in public policy these days.

Government has become an enabler that creates as many problems as it resolves. Too often its solutions create new problems which it further complicates with poorly thought out policy and programs.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) among young people started increasing after the age of consent was originally lowered but progressive governments didn’t consider that increase to be related to liberalizing sex at a younger age. Instead, provincial governments, like that in Ontario, introduced sexually explicit curriculum into elementary school where they imposed adult concepts on children still learning how to tie their shoe laces.

When parents complained, they denied parents the right to know about, or a voice in, what was being taught to their children. The attitude was government knows best but the reality is that it does not. In Ontario, as in many other jurisdictions, government started to see itself as a co-parent.

It decided that because some parents are less than responsible, its role was to step in and mandate what children should or shouldn’t do or learn rather than holding irresponsible parents accountable for their actions.

Municipal and provincial governments passed legislation and opened clinics which made it possible for young teens to obtain birth control pills and condoms without parental consent and to also get treatment for STDs without their parent’s knowledge.

Government-think has nothing to do with morality. It is a simplistic concept that if we wrap our kids in latex, everything will be just fine. In my city, teenagers can not only get free condoms but have them home-delivered at no extra charge. It may reduce the spread of some diseases, although there is no evidence to support that theory.

In my city, STDs continue to increase despite the fact that the city has been giving away hundreds of thousands of free condoms every year since 2010.

I’m not a prude. I think sex is a wonderful thing as long as it doesn’t involve small (or even large) farm animals. But there is a time and place in our lives for it. It isn’t simply a question of morality; it’s also a question of common sense.

I accept that teenagers will be curious about sex. It is a fundamental force in our lives that begins to make its presence known as we go through puberty. I believe it is our responsibility as parents to help guide our kids through that period by teaching them values based on self-respect and personal safety rather than simply throwing caution to the winds and enabling behaviour for which they are ill-prepared. Part of that education is teaching them the dangers of unprotected sex or sex at too early an age.

I don’t doubt the sincerity of politicians and bureaucrats behind programs like this. It is their ability to think beyond the contradictions and the consequences of their policies and programs that concerns me.

At some point, because it didn’t know how to deal with many serious issues, government turned into an enabler that focused on one element of an issue, introduced some program to deal with it but with little thought or regard for the broader impact on society or even those it was trying to help.

We saw that with the Gun Registry, which was a ridiculous program implemented to address gun crime by creating a data base of legally acquired and owned firearms but did nothing to reduce the number of guns in the hands of criminals. We saw it again with the introduction of safe-injection and inhalation sites for illegal drug users at precisely the same time we are taking a tough stand against cigarettes.

Somehow, in their anxiety to combat the spread of diseases like hepatitis and HIV, those who introduced and support programs like this dismiss and ignore the issues of crime and wasted lives that are a significant part of the illegal drug culture.

The contradictions are staggering. Some politicians are calling for the legalizing of marijuana while supporting increased measures to control cigarette smoking. Others are supporting safe-inhalation rooms for crack addicts while also supporting additional measures to ban cigarette smokers from public parks and outdoor patios.

In combating smoking, government is in the process of banning one product while legalizing another. In the end it has done nothing to eradicate smoking, it has merely changed what gets smoked. At the same time it has moved smoking outside, it is advocating smoking crack back indoors.

It is a lack of logic and the ability to think that literally takes my breath away.

It is the constant introduction of simplistic policies and programs that never take into consideration the broader consequences of those programs and policies that has led government to become as big a problem as those it seeks to address.

Instead of stepping back and considering whether or not a program is actually detrimental to society in the long term, government look for reasons to justify it. They rationalize that free condoms will reduce the spread of STDs without considering that it might undermine the authority and responsibility of the parent which often leads to a breakdown of family.

It isn’t merely lazy thinking, it is dangerous thinking.

It is thinking that results in programs like the Young Offenders Act, which virtually gave people under 16 a free pass for serious crimes like rape and murder. Enabling other behaviour like the use of illegal drugs and sexual activity for which they are ill-prepared doesn’t help young people, their families or the broader society. It legitimizes bad, dangerous and sometimes illegal behaviour.

It undermines society’s long-term viability by undermining its values.

Enabling unsafe or illegal behaviour is not a solution and neither is changing the law to legalize illegal behaviour. That is nothing less than giving up.

It is natural for adolescents and teens to be curious about sex. It is a powerful, driving urge in our lives and puberty is the awakening of that urge. But there is more to sex than just ensuring that people don’t pass on an STD or get pregnant. Sex has a very profound emotional context.

When we enable behaviour for which some are not emotional ready, we create long-term issues that directly impact them and our broader community. When the focus is merely on being safe while having sex, we trivialize it by ignoring the  emotional aspects of a sexual relationship and that leads to attitudes that cheapen both self-respect and respect for others.

Government doesn’t teach the morality or the common sense of sex. It focuses instead on the consequences of unprotected sexual activity as if that is all there is to sex. Government teaches politically correct concepts about gender sexuality and different kinds of sex including oral and anal sex to children more interested in Monster Trucks and Dora the Explorer.

I don’t consider government to be a compassionate intervener. I see it as a meddler in areas that are best left to parents and families. Government intervenes with thoughtless policy that has been pushed by ‘experts’ and one special interest group or another but seldom, if ever, by parents. In fact, too often, parents are considered uneducated about,  and irrelevant to, the issues.

In almost every case, the first casualty is the concept that there are consequences for our actions. It is an attitude that extends from the law to public health and even to our schools where our children are being taught that there are no consequences to cheating on exams or for failing to hand in assignments.

Regardless of the issue; whether it is adolescent sex, illegal drug use or any one of a dozen other issues, including youth crime, nothing good comes from enabling bad, irresponsible or illegal behaviour. There are consequences to that behaviour and by removing or smoothing over those consequences we remove the need to deal with them. In the end, this legitimizes the behaviour rather than works to reduce or even eliminate it.

When we enable, we remove the need to make better choices in our lives and when we remove that we remove the need to be responsible for our lives.

Enabling dangerous and unsafe behaviour doesn’t protect anyone. It merely creates the illusion of protection while creating a whole new level of danger for everyone concerned. We saw that with the Gun Registry and we see it with the enabling of teen sex, illegal drug use and educational policies that ignore the sometimes hard realities of life.

We do our kids no favours by enabling behaviour for which they are ill-prepared or in which they shouldn’t engage. Instead, we set them up to fail by taking away the very values they need to make good choices in their lives.

By enabling unsafe, dangerous and even illegal behaviour rather than promoting values and teaching about the consequences of bad decisions, Government creates a tragic waste of opportunity and too often, an even greater waste of what otherwise might have bee good and productive lives.


Running Around In Circles And Going Nowhere But Down


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  • Mimi Berry

    Excellent article. I can’t wait to read more.

  • Beth

    Regarding your subject matter
    My son said to me not long ago… Why is that teenagers cannot buy alochol until you are.19 and you can not vote until you are 18 years old and get you are suppose to have enough brains to go out and manage a sexual life style at the age of 14… Go figure when does the Government ever make sense I guess it just making the case for legal rape by preverted politicians..

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      You can join the military at 18 and learn to kill and, as you point out you can vote but you can’t have a beer until you’re 19. Only government could rationalize that it takes more maturity to drink than it does to vote or kill.

  • Peggy

    I am so glad my daughters are now adults and I do not have to worry about what is being taught to them at school. I had no problems talking with my daughters about sex. The conversations started at age 6 and information was provided when they were ready for it. Values, self-respect and safety were definitely included in the adolescent years. I am so proud that my daughters reached legal adulthood before …. you know. I don’t think this, I know this.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      It isn’t that I mind sex ed in schools, my issue is what and what at age. I have a huge issue with educators and government freezing parents out of the curriculum.My real issue is that government tends to create more harm than good when it intervenes because government is always looking for the short-term solution with the best optics. Society needs the best long-term solutions regardless of the optics.

  • Garrett

    “Our standard of living is more materialistic but not necessarily better and it is not a product of government intervention but rather the advancement of technology”

    Well I haven’t heard that our lives have begun to shorten. The stats I’ve read suggest our lives are longer than ever, but because of that we aren’t neccessarily living better. Longer lives due to medication leads to longer lives in sickness. Double edged sword…

    Thats very true our society is very materialistic and I suppose we do that because we can. I have a job that allows me to purchase the things I want and there is an economic spinoff which allows others to do the same. I would agree that consumption and consumerism have been elevated so much that we have more crap than we can ever use. I really don’t NEED an RV to live. I really don’t NEED an ATV, boat, sports car, bigger TV, better stereo etc. Technology has advanced in many many ways that has benefitted the population through medical breakthoughs that have given us longer lives, and given us the ability to feed a larger population but here we run into that spiral you mentioned…and a nice segue into another conversation, population control.

    7 billion people on the planet, all consuming, producing waste at unprecedented levels, and nobody wants to address the issue that we need to slow down population growth because we are running out of everything, including space to pile the garbage.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      It isn’t simply about earning better salaries which allow us to buy more stuff; it’s about values. Our values are all directed towards lifestyle these days. When people start selling internal organs to raise enough money to buy an iPad or a smart phone it tells you a lot about their values. Only some of us live longer. The life expectancy in third world countries is dismal, poverty is increasing along with rampant drug use, demands for more entitlement and class warfare. I don’t consider any of that to be a step forward – I consider it a major retreat from what we could be.

      • Garrett

        Yes, admittedly I am thinking closer to home than you in regards to lifestyle and quality of life. I’m of two minds when it comes to assisting others in the third worrld. I agree that it’s the right thing to do, but little change will occur until theses countries get their affairs in order. We can provide all the aid we want but if local warlords and corrupt governments prevent the flow of aid we should focus on areas that will do the right thing for their people. Great conversation, thanks for that!

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          My point wasn’t whether or not we should be assisting those in the third world although I do support that; my point was that we haven’t earned our lifestyle. We’ve borrowed money we can’t afford to achieve the illusion of a lifestyle and the bill will soon be coming due.

          I also enjoyed our discussion. I always find your comments well-presented and thought provoking.

  • Pingback: A Bears Rant | Grumpy Opinions()

  • Garrett

    Yes, I do agree parents want to do the right thing, but there are so many differing views on the “hows” of raising a child. If I give my child a smacked rear for bad behaviour (and I mean a smacked rear NOT a beating and there IS a difference) tongues are clucked, fingers are pointed and the inevitable accusations fly that I abused my child by smacking the rear. You’re supposed to explain everything as a parent, talk till you’re blue in the face…or so it seems. Consequences can injure the pride and the spirit of the child and we’re told thats not good. So we raise a generation of children that don’t know consequence.
    Yes, government has no busness in the bedrooms of consenting adults. There is a line in there and society has become to afraid of voicing opinion for fear of challenging the status quo and offending someone’s delicate sensibilities.
    Government has a fine line to walk, and it can’t be easy catering to all the special interest groups out there, from the various churches and religions to the liberal groups and everything in between.
    While I agree that nothing replaces teaching proper values and an active parenting method, I also feel we can’t ignore the fact that kids are having sex getting diseases and getting pregnant. The Catholics, generally, don’t agree with this new HPV vacine for kids, but if it can reduce HPV related disease and cancer I’m for that. If a child uses a condom and doesn’t impregnate or get pregnant, I’m for that too.
    I’ve had the talk with my offspring, and continue to do so, but it only takes a single mistake that can have drastic and long lasting consequences. Let’s go further down this road and talk about those that have kids for the welfare benefits. If you’re on welfare you should be required to use contraception. How about if the aid agencies of the world pass out contraception as well as food? As I said, it’s a mind boggling, polarizing discussion and I think we really need to look at whats happening along with why it’s happening.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      What would we do if there was no government? Would we simply let our children run wild and grow up without values or a moral compass? I don’t think we would. Quite frankly, considering the mess it has made of pretty much everything it has touched over the years, it seems to me that trusting government to decide how best to raise our children is like entrusting your car to someone you know is a drunk.

      Would you want a safe injection site beside your home? If not, why would you want one anywhere or even consider supporting the thinking behind establishing them? Would you want government telling your kids that they don’t have to listen to you but rather can come to the government for answers, information and free birth control? If not, why would you support the thinking behind the introduction of those programs?

      It all seems so benign and to make sense when it is an academic discussion but look around. Are we a safer, more tolerant society now for all the government intervention? Are our children more or less respectful? Do they have better or worse values? Are families stronger or weaker?

      Society was doing just fine before government became an enabler. In fact, families were much stronger and we have thousands of years of recorded history to underscore that. Government enabling of bad behaviour and meddling in things that are none of their business has done nothing to address the issues other than make them worse.

      • Garrett

        I agree with much of what you say, however I’m not convinced that society was so much better wayyyy back in the day. It was much more dangerous and lawless. I think we all believe that it was kindler and gentler back then and on some level I agree, but we have a fantastic standard of living with longer life expectancy, better living conditions and even better health care. Could we do with less government? Yes we could. Society has become lazy and turns to the government for everything. Short of turning off the power and shutting down the internet I’m not convinced this issue will be solved. So in order to cut down the carnage caused by kids having sex, we turn to education and some control with safe sex programs and vaccines to prevent disease. I’m quite sure you can’t find fault with that. I’m not a beleiever in enabling addiction and definitely feel society is too lenient of this behaviour. But again, the carnage caused by addicts trying to get money to feed their addiction, so how do you control this? It’s easy to blame the government for the ills of society but just what do we do? I agree governemnt has enabled to a degree, but the last time I checked Steven Harper wasn’t downtown Calgary rolling a joint or snorting/smoking/injecting crack. Everybody is saying “DO SOMETHING!”. They enlist the help of aid agencies that tell them what to do. So they try all manner of things that make you and I scratch our heads.
        Where’s the right answer? Tell me because I’d love to know. My child has been given the HPV vaccine and I’ll pick her up if she calls me from somewhere loaded and I’ll lecture the hell out of her but I can’t control her 24/7, so I’ll let her puke her guts out and even video her as she does it. Then I’ll show her how ridiculous it looks, then I’ll think back when I made an ass of myself…and the wheel keeps on turning.

        • http://abearsrant.com thebear

          I’m not nostalgic for the past nor do I look at it through rose-coloured glasses. We had issues when I was younger and there were issues as far back as history records. Our standard of living is more materialistic but not necessarily better and it is not a product of government intervention but rather the advancement of technology. We are already seeing life expectancy starting to reverse itself and jobs moving off shore. Nothing government has done is preventing that.

          In the United States, 4 children a day are murdered, most by members of their own families. One child a day is murdered while in the care of government-run childhood services. Poverty is at absurd levels in countries that have the fundamental wealth of ours but government has so raped our economies there is no money to properly address it.Our educational system is losing its ability to teach, our infrastructure is crumbling and we now spend over 70% of all tax revenue on just three things: healthcare, education and servicing the debt. What do we do when it hits 100%?

          This is what government has wrought. It has made every issue we face worse. It has undermined the family, undermined our culture, our values and our prosperity. The prosperity you think we live in now is an illusion paid for with borrowed money because it is a prosperity we cannot afford and haven’t earned.

          Greece learned the result of that last year. Spain, Italy and Ireland are teetering on the brink of the Greek experience. Think it can’t happen here? It has already started.

  • Garrett

    Hi Bear
    There are so many other issues here its mind boggling. The ability to access Internet porn, the sexualization of children in media, supossed reality shows like Toddlers in Tiaras, kardashians, Jersey shore, the list goes on. How can society expect kids to do anything different than what is presented to them on television, Internet, and in the playground. There was a university in the US that had Snooki from Jersey shore give a convocation address! The bar was lowered that day…
    Parents have to step up but it’s difficult to gain traction when the school system refuses to teach consequences. The teacher in the Edmonton high school that was fired for giving zeroes as grades for assignments not turned in is a perfect example. I doubt the parents of those kids rose to defend the dismissed teacher. The system is reacting to the increase in adolescent sex and youth STI’s and pregnancies. I agree that parents need to take more responsibility in these matters. The information is out there for the kids to access. As youve mentioned sex is a tantalizing subject because its what humans “do”. Talking to, and teaching our children the right way is a must in order to get the proper values instilled in them before they get twisted information from the Kardashians.

    • http://abearsrant.com thebear

      I don’t believe that most parents are irresponsible or don’t have a sincere desire to be good parents but government has become so intrusive that it interferes with the role of being a parent. In Ontario, the term ‘co-parenting’ has actually been used by some public sector educators and bureaucrats. The simple reality is that just as the government has no business in the bedrooms of the nation, it has no business undermining parents’ right and responsibility to raise their own children.

      I agree with you about things like online porn and sexual predators. It’s a dangerous world out there but government bows to pressure when it backs away from common sense regulation for the Internet. It undermines the reality of consequences for actions which creates a false expectation and understanding of what real life is like and that is a terribly dangerous thing to impart to children that does not serve them well when they become adults.

      Government is not about values, it’s about expediency. It attacks broad issues by addressing singular elements within those issues and without regard for the erosion of a responsible society. In the end, it isn’t government that creates a better society, it’s individuals with better values who make good life decisions. Government doesn’t enable that, it undermines it by enabling bad, unsafe and sometimes illegal behaviour.