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.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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