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Mandatory reporting in our schools

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The front page article, Law Professor on SKSD mandatory reporting in last week’s Keizertimes resulted in a “Do I laugh or do I cry?” reaction.  There were several reasons for being torn asunder, the most notable being the hypocrisy angle, what a modern day U.S. public school district will do to curry favor with local persons of conservative interests even though the Salem Keizer School District is a secular-founded public organization.

But let’s get to the meat of this matter.  The hypocrisy between what so many of us Americans say and what we do may be unparalleled in the rest of the world.  There is in fact so much hypocrisy in America that one must only scratch the surface of life here to know its depths.  For one, Americans will tell pollsters they’re in church when they’re actually sleeping in or watching a ball game; similar examples could fill a book. Politicians don’t dare talk about legalizing certain drugs because Americans are reputed more likely to use drugs than other nations where use is accurately reported. Meanwhile, American hypocrisy is possibly most bizarre when it has to do with sex.

Facts show that Americans are sexually active because Americans are human beings, as is true of every other species on earth. As humans we can’t help ourselves as sex usually strikes like a bolt of lightening at puberty, although curiosity about it gets underway often long before it can result in a pregnancy.  Yet, so many Americans object to other people engaging in it that our local school chief administrator and others there want to make the school environment here not unlike a religious dictatorship.  So much so that they will intrude with threat of law enforcement into the private lives of the most vulnerable among us, our youth.

American prudery means that both tabloid and actual news media are regularly dominated by sex scandals.  These are often conducted as though the worse thing a person of any age can do is to have consensual sex with someone to whom he or she is not married. Most of what happens regarding this topic in this country seems actually to be controlled by middle-aged spinster-resembling persons, trying to force our youth into strict 19th century lives.

Facts on the subject reveal that Americans have sex on average 2.3 times a week, while 19 out of 20 Americans have had premarital sex, not holding back from getting started during the years of intense, internal fires burning, the teenage years that get well underway in middle school and hugely drive the high school years.  Americans like to have sex for pleasure as indicated by the count of contraception devices sold in the U.S.  Another revelation from research is that Americans love porn, while conservatives, who denounce other people’s sexual choices, have themselves been discovered, when anonymously surveyed, to be avid consumers of porn.

Americans just love judging other people, even when they themselves behave in similar, if not identical ways.  Abortion clinics receive an earful of how common the hypocrisy is when sharing stories about anti-abortion patients telling how they deserve an abortion when “Those sluts in the waiting room don’t.” Meanwhile, statistics inform us that 99 percent have used contraception; yet, 38 percent of women want to take away funding from Planned Parenthood and 46 percent of men want contraception subsidies cut while they benefit from their use.

A not small number of Americans are a study in extreme hypocrisy.  They wanted and participated in reckless unmarried sex as a teenager but escaped the peril of an enraged father seeking justice for his pregnant daughter. Then, they get older and purportedly “wiser” and suddenly are rabidly against teenagers having sex.  This attitude in view of statistics that show that teenage sex is not as rampant as it once was and actually has been in free fall for the last half century.  The facts point out that teenagers in the 1950s, for example, were a whole lot less chaste.  Yet, no matter the prohibitions and denunciations, it goes on everywhere.

Holding back on judgments, it’s probably a good guess that those in charge of the schools here in Salem-Keizer are overzealous and far too aggressive in application of SKSD Mandatory Reporting Guidelines; instead of a light touch, they’ve chosen the nuclear option.  Offering counsel, they are strongly advised to back off and substitute educational means instead of an effort at total control which will only drive the whole matter further underground where secrecy substitutes for good sense. Should Superintendent Christy Perry, her immediate subordinates and board member decision-makers feel they must interfere in the lives of youth to the extreme suggested by them they want to do so, then they are respectfully encouraged to seek positions in non-secular schools where religious behaviors rule.

(Gene H. McIntyre lives in Keizer.)