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Turning It Around:
Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social
Problems is available by ordering from
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Typical social (community and
personal) problems addressed by TIA:
violence, drug abuse, alcoholism, other addictions,
road rage, office rage, bullying, homelessness,
teenage rebellion, thrill-seeking and depression,
major crime, even illiteracy, high divorce rates and
personal problems that lead to neuroses, bankruptcy or
Copyright 2003-2012 BillAllin.com,
Kids "Innocent" is Wrong, Ultimately Harmful
I really suspect that Grandma is hiding [the
newspapers with news about the Great War]. That
would mean the news was so bad she did not want
me to read it. But knowing the truth is better
than imagining the worst."
- Jean Little, If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu
Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, part of the
Dear Canada series that teaches history and
culture to children through story telling
They grow up so quickly, don't they? How often
have you heard that? Or maybe you have said it
Too many parents try to protect their children
from the "cruel world out there" by hiding truth
and reality from them. "There will be time for
them to learn that later, when they are old enough
and mature enough to handle it."
The trouble is, by the time the parents believe
their kids are old enough to handle the bad news
about life, the kids have usually already
experienced the bad part. They are past the time
when they needed the input. The parents failed in
their most important function, to raise their
children to know how to handle what they face in
Compared with most mammals and primates, humans
have an extremely long period of childhood. Nature
has accommodated this by allowing for the slow
development of a child's body. Girls don't begin
to become fertile (able to procreate) until they
are old enough that their prehistoric female
ancestors were ready to be mothers. Similarly with
boys becoming sexually mature.
The frontal lobes of the brain, the parts that
help us tell right from wrong, good from bad, and
that help us to think our way through serious
problems do not fully develop until well on into
the teen years.
By the age that adolescents become sexually
mature, most of them know almost nothing about
what is happening inside their bodies (how the
hormones will affect them, not just the mechanics
of reproduction as studied in school), how the
same is affecting those of the opposite sex and
how they can and should manage their strong
feelings of sexual attraction toward others.
A recent study in the United States showed that
fully half the college students surveyed knew
almost nothing about how to avoid pregnancy. Does
that seem unbelievable? It isn't to those college
At the adolescent age of their kids, many parents
are saying to other parents that "Kids are
interested in sex too young these days," and "I
don't want my kid to be having sex until he (or
she) is much older and can handle the
responsibility." That age is not 12 years. But
kids (about 15%) have their first sexual
experiences by that age. By age 14 or 15,
virtually half of them have had sex at least once.
Parents are in denial, unless a daughter becomes
pregnant. Then they blame the daughter, or TV, or
movies, or their family doctor, just about anyone.
There is no such thing as an age when a child is
too young to learn about matters of adulthood.
That's the whole purpose of childhood, for them to
learn about being adults before they actually get
there and have to live it.
However, there is a secret about conveying adult
information and knowledge to children. It's not
what you tell them so much as how you tell them.
Like any kind of communication, the message must
be formed in such as way that the receiver
understands it and can absorb it. Preferably that
the young person has understood the message enough
that he or she can process how to incorporate it
somehow into his or her life.
A child can know the intricacies of sex without
actually feeling the need to have it with another
person. There are consequences. One is pregnancy
and that includes becoming a parent long before
the adolescent is ready to become a parent, to
raise, provide for and protect a child.
Teens have learned how to avoid having intercourse
by having sex in such a way that pregnancy is not
possible. One method for each gender is
cunnilingus (for the female) or fellatio (for the
male). These do open the possibilities for STDs
(Sexually Transmitted Diseases), including HPV
infection, even throat cancer or HIV. The answer
is not to hide these possibilities, but to discuss
them so the adolescent has a chance to understand
Those who do not know make the most mistakes. The
consequences of those mistakes often affect a
person for the rest of his or her life. The
knowledge young people need is not just about sex.
It's about everything they may be exposed to in
their lives, including at school, on the streets,
on televison and on the internet.
Innocence in childhood becomes ignorance in
adulthood. Innocent children suffer great
disadvantages. Ignorant adults become victims of
all kinds of problems. To make life worse,
ignorant adults who received little help from
their parents tend to be shy about asking for help
from others when they are adults. In other words,
ignorant adults tend to remain ignorant, often to
the extent of refusing to learn when they have the
There are no advantages for a child to remain
innocent. There are huge and harmful disadvantages
for an adult to be ignorant about the realities of
life. One of those disadvantages is that ignorant
adults tend to be more fearful of more different
things than those who are knowledgeable. They also
tend to lack empathy and often find it hard to be
sympathetic. These are critically important
characteristics we want in the generation that
will soon run our country.
If you want a child who never grows up, get a dog
or cat. If you are the parent of a child, help
that child become a well balanced and responsible
adult. It's the primary life responsibility of
every parent. Talk about it.
Bill Allin is the author of Turning
It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic
Social Problems, a book of easy and
inexpensive solutions to seemingly impossible
problems. He gives advice through his web site and
his internet group. To learn more about these go
It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's
Epidemic Social Problems