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Today the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 (pdf) that an Arizona school district was wrong to strip-search a then-13-year-old student suspected of having over-the-counter painkillers tucked away in her underwear.
There were several factors that undoubtedly influenced this decision, not least that the school district was in the wrong. Savana Redding was a girl, and so considered more vulnerable to nudity than a boy. She wasn’t “holding,” meaning the whole thing was a waste and thus all the more outrageous.The only drug they were even looking for was ibuprofen, which is legal for all ages, commonly used, and largely harmless (though not to me personally, as it happens).
Perhaps not surprisingly, I’m finding no real people echoing Clarence Thomas’s warning in his dissent that the decision lets teenagers know they can safely hide things in their underwear, like they didn’t know that already. Most people, it seems, recognize zero tolerance for what it is; a form of control, requiring children to be obedient for obedience’s sake and making sure they don’t step out of line. Zero tolerance means not having to consider students as people with needs and motives, only as cogs in the machine of the school.
It also means gross injustices such as what happened to Redding. While in theory these harsh penalties apply to all students, in practice they’re generally used against those who don’t “fit in” and are considered likely to be on drugs anyway, since after all they’re “bad kids.”
That‘s what the Supreme Court chipped away at with today’s decision: the notion that “bad kids” can be subject to humiliation for vague and flimsy reasons.
Everything is said to be bigger in Texas, and that includes schools’ share of Federal abstinence-only education budget.
It also, according to RH Reality Check, includes teen pregnancies: one of the highest rates in the country, costing taxpayers more than $1 billion a year.
That’s because abstinence is the least effective form of birth control. While perfect use leads to a 0% failure rate, the mechanism—pure willpower—doesn’t lend itself to perfect use; many reports compound the problem by comparing perfect use of abstinence with typical use for all other forms of birth control.
Ab-only education seems to be predicated on the notion that sex is like any other engineering feat: if you don’t know about it, you can’t do it. You need to be taught at least some rudiments of architecture before you can build a skyscraper, and the same purportedly applies to sex. This is why neolithic humans didn’t have skyscrapers, or sex.
What kids are taught instead is arrant nonsense:
Sexually active teens are more likely to commit suicide; women who lubricate during sex are more likely to get pregnant; people who have sex before marriage are less able to be “intimate” later; “the divorce rate for two virgins who get married is less than 3%.”
Sex ed doesn’t need to be about the mechanics, but it is irresponsible not to teach students how to stay safe when they are drawn to doing it. Moral education is the responsibility of families; while the schools have a responsibility not to undermine that, they needn’t refrain from teaching students necessary information in the name of supporting it.