Venn Librarian

Reflections about the intersection of schools, libraries and technology.

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Teach your children well

Posted by lpearle on 27 October 2008

Every year at this time MPOW has a “Freedom from Chemical Dependency” week. In the Middle School, our 7th and 8th graders meet with an educator, who talks to them about different types of chemicals and how they affect us.

She covers them in an age-appropriate manner, talking less about meth or crack and more about pot, alcohol, tobacco and prescription drugs that one might find in the average home. Most (all?) of the kids are aware of the dangers, whether or not they buy into them. The goal isn’t to scare them (a laReefer Madness) but to educate them.

The Middle School faculty met with this woman on Friday to hear what she’d learned from our students, what insights she could share about their development and ideas about these substances. One of the things she said was that she recognizes that they are exposed to much of them through their parents, the media and their older siblings. Her message to them is to talk about the dangers of using [pot/alcohol/cough syrup/whatever] at their young age: it’s not just about stunting your growth, it’s about potentially hurting yourself years later by not allowing normal development.

In other words, wait. Hold off for a few years… if you’re going to try drugs, if you’re going to drink, just hold off.

As I drove home, I started thinking about applying this to sex. We know that teaching abstinence doesn’t work. Hormones and peer pressure can lead to bad decisions, and abstinence is just not an option. But what if we asked students to wait. Yes, you’re curious. Yes, you think it’ll feel good. Yes, “everyone” is “doing it.” But wait. Wait until you’re more mature and emotionally ready. Wait until it’s not about just feeling good or fitting in. Wait.

Same message, same problem with being too young to make rational, safe choices.

Now, how can I, as the librarian, support that? What resources can I provide that will encourage (without lecturing, without condescending) this behavior?

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