Sunday, May 08, 2005

The CBC and Teenage Sex

Sometimes the CBC really creeps me out. To be fair, it isn’t just the CBC, it’s pretty well any public mouthpiece these days. You see, I’m the father of two young girls – ages 4 and 9. And I have a real fear of how the media portrays teenage sex in today’s society. I worry about the negative influence that these powerful, influential, largely irresponsible public voices will have on my kids.

A few days ago I heard some comments on CBC radio in Toronto that really irked me. Apparently Statistics Canada has released a study it did on teenage sexuality. According to the study, 12% of boys and 13% of girls have had sex by the age of 15. There were also some findings about how a lot of these kids don’t use condoms and have multiple partners. Basically, the stuff that fathers have nightmares about.

And can you guess the angle the CBC took on this story? Do you think it suggested that we, as parents, should be communicating clearly to our children the emotional and physical toll of engaging in sex before they are mature enough to handle it - or, heaven forbid, to abstain until they find someone who has made a lifelong commitment to them? Lord no. Not our beloved public broadcaster. For some reason, it felt compelled to put a markedly pro-teenage sex spin on the story, implicitly suggesting in its coverage that sexual activity among our children is perfectly normal and that every teenager is doing it. It aired the voice of a teenage female who said that 75% of her friends were having sex. Further, it aired the views of a public nurse who apparently spends a lot of her time handing out condoms to our kids. Most tellingly, the CBC closed its piece with a commentator suggesting that it is “outdated” to teach our kids that sex is not OK. That’s the word they used. “Outdated.”

Apparently our public broadcaster somehow feels that its mandate includes letting us know what is outdated and what is not with respect to our children having sex. I guess such decisions are not best left up to ignorant, unwashed, Canadian parents. Better to have the CBC suggest what we should and should not be doing. And we, as parents, better just smarten up and accept the fact that our young daughters will be getting it on in increasing numbers. So says the CBC, bless its heart. Thank God for it. Otherwise, we might just be foolish enough to decide for ourselves what we will and will not accept with respect to the behaviour of our children. Imagine a society without the progressive CBC to guide us poor ignorant, unenlightened Canadian parents down the road to open-minded teenage sexuality.

Well, sorry, but the CBC can just stuff it. As a Dad, the very idea that I should somehow be accepting or somehow complicit in my young daughter’s sexual rompings makes me feel dirty inside. And I don’t like feeling dirty. Why doesn’t our public broadcaster support me? I want to protect my daughters from venereal diseases, pregnancy and the inevitable emotional turmoil that comes with early sexual activeness by teaching them that the only acceptable approach is to practice sexual restraint until they are mature and have a life mate. Is this so unreasonable? Apparently the CBC thinks so.

My taxes pay for the CBC. And yet it refuses to speak for me. And I don’t think I’m alone. Surely, most parents would prefer that their young daughters abstain from sexual activity until they mature. Am I so totally removed from reality to believe such a thing? Am I the only parent who feels violated at the presumptuousness of a public, tax funded institution that makes insinuations about the appropriateness of teenage sex that conflict so profoundly with my sensibilities?

Surely the CBC cannot claim that it is merely presenting the truth; that it has a journalistic obligation to be unbiased and reflect the reality of the environment we live in. After all, it tries to mold public opinion all the time when it wants to invoke change. For instance, its coverage of the gay marriage issue certainly leans towards advocating a shift in public attitude and a change in the status quo. I guess when it comes to either supporting change or reporting on the realities around us, the CBC can swing either way depending on how they want to represent an issue.

Who do these people at the CBC think they are? Apparently they are no longer trying to reflect the feelings of real Canadian parents. Rather, they are trying to make us into the parents they feel we should be. Clearly, this is bureaucracy gone mad. And lets not debate semantics - the CBC is a bureaucracy of sorts. Its president is appointed by the Prime Minister and it receives the vast majority of its funding from public coffers. And I, for one, am positively creeped out at its utter disregard for the views of average Canadians and its reckless, amoral stance on the issue of teenage sex.

Certainly our kids are susceptible to the pressures brought to bear by the media. Certainly they are influenced by what they hear on the radio and on TV. Is it the job of a tax funded media source like the CBC to implicitly encourage our kids to have sex? Because, don’t doubt it, that’s exactly what it is doing. By not dissuading kids from sex, by suggesting that everyone is doing it and that it’s understandable, it is implicitly encouraging them.

Can it be that so many parents are willing to just give up on trying to protect their daughters from the emotional and physical harm of early sex? Are we really so weak, so easily mouldable, that we would put aside our deep maternal instincts simply to conform with what the CBC tells us we should do and feel?

In the end, these are children we are talking about here. They react to the environment around them. They are not fully formed emotional beings. They hear the message from the CBC and other media sources that sex is good and that they are silly to deprive themselves of it and they believe it. It is no mistake that years ago this wasn’t an issue. When I was growing up a teenage boy could date a girl for years without getting any. It was the way it was. And the boys didn’t seem to mind. In fact, they expected it. There was a certain natural, elegant balance to things. There was also a lot less sexual angst, emotional turmoil and suicide among our teenagers and virtually no sexually transmitted diseases or teenage pregnancies. Funny how that works eh?

Of course that was years ago, before the CBC and other public voices started justifying and endorsing teenage sex. I wonder, did rampant teenage sex occur before these public voices started excusing and glorifying it or did it occur as a result? Probably a bit of both. Whatever the case, the damage has been done. Sadly the CBC seems more inclined to promote and build on the damage than speak out against it. Therefore, we have to conclude that the CBC wants things to be this way.

Well, I’m not giving up. I will be teaching my young daughters that sex is not a mechanism for showing that they are boy’s equals. After all, they don’t need to prove anything. And it is not OK to share something as precious as their bodies with someone until they are emotionally mature and they find someone who makes a lifelong commitment to them. They are better than that. And maybe they’ll listen. They know that I love them more than life itself. Maybe they’ll listen. God I hope so. It’s awful hard to compete against the CBC, Cosmo and MuchMusic.

I cannot understand how any parent who loves their children would buy into this superficial, CBC promoted, world of teenage sexual promiscuity. Well, I will not allow some misguided, or worse, insidiously motivated, public voice to lead my children down the path to potential self destruction without a fight.

Clearly, I’ve got my work cut out for me. Wish me luck. After all I don’t get almost a billion dollars a year in government funding to push my social values like the CBC does. Regardless, I love my kids and want only the best for them. And, most of all, I’m not teaching them stuff to further my own selfish social and political agenda. I’m teaching them stuff because I honestly believe it will make them safer, happier and more fulfilled. And that’s more than the CBC and all its assorted new-age, left-wing hangers-on can say.

Perhaps the next time CBC coverage touches upon teenage sex it could do a TV interview with a teen with visible herpes or maybe a young mother on welfare whose life has been destroyed by irresponsible teenage promiscuity. Maybe it could find someone who speaks in defense of abstinence rather than someone who dismisses it as “Outdated”. Maybe it could start positioning its coverage in a manner that benefits Canadian society for a change, rather than a manner that reflects the misguided feminist sensibilities of its reporters, editors and producers.

The CBC has a very powerful, influential voice and it could be doing so much good with respect to dissuading our children from engaging in early sexual behavior. Parents should be looking to the CBC as an ally when it comes to teaching their children right from wrong. As it is, the CBC is more like an adversary. And it should be ashamed.


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