by Jay Johansen | Jun 10, 1996
|Warning: This article contains irony and sarcasm.|
After seeing the impressive success of values-free sex education in our schools, it seems to me that we should apply these same principles in teaching other subjects.
For example, consider the problem of teen-age drunk driving. Why don't we take the same approach in teaching teens about drunk driving that we do in teaching them about sex? It would go something like this:
We would begin by taking it for granted that no matter what parents or teachers say, teens are still going to drive while drunk. Telling them to "abstain" from drunk driving is simplistic and naive. Besides, it's attempting to impose values on these young people. If you're opposed to drunk driving, that's fine, but you have no right to impose your morality on others. Rules against drunkenness are part of Christian religious teachings, so they have no place in public schools.
Instead, we would teach teens "safe drunk driving". That is, we would teach them how, when they do drive drunk, they can reduce the chance that someone will be hurt. Namely, we would teach them to always wear a seat belt when they drink and drive. We would encourage kids to practice getting a seat belt fastenned correctly while drunk, and so forth.
Some will object that this is just encouraging kids to drive drunk. We would reply: We are not encouraging kids to drive drunk; we are simply accepting the reality that some will. And surely if a teen is going to drive drunk, it is better if he wears a seatbelt than if he does not. Do you suggest we NOT tell young people to wear seatbelts? Are you some kind of puritanical moralist, that you want to see kids who break your rules against drunkenness be injured or killed in accidents?
If we adopted drunk-driving programs like this, I'm sure we would quickly see the same level of success in fighting drunk driving that we are presently seeing in combatting teen pregnancy.
© 1996 by Jay Johansen