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Jewish World Review April 18, 2000 / 14 Nissan, 5760

Betsy Hart

Betsy Hart
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When toleration goes too far -- THE SHOCKING HEADLINE in the New York Times read "2 Boys Held in Rape of Girl, 9, at School" and it was pretty awful stuff.

The boys who allegedly committed the April 10th attack were 12, and the rape reportedly happened during school hours in an exit vestibule of a public school in New York City.

Yes, that's 9-years-old, 12-years-old, and a public school while classes were in session. According to reports it's the third sexual attack involving young students at the school this year.

The details of the incident were bad enough. But I was also struck by the prescience of what proved to be a related New York Times story earlier this month, a report by Anne Jarrell on the dramatic increase of middle school children in New York City having sex. And, by inference, what this may mean for the rest of America.

Jarrell interviewed a number of New York psychologists and other experts who generally agreed with Dr. Richard Gallagher, director of the Parenting Institute at New York University's Child Study Center when he said, "I see no reason not to believe that soon a substantial number of youths will be having intercourse in the middle-school years. . . it's already happening."

Jarrell cites one report showing that nationally, 17 percent of seventh and eighth graders have already had sexual intercourse. And, she says, "other, smaller studies put the percentage even higher."

The anecdotal evidence alone is staggering. On Long Island, psychologist Wayne Warren describes a typical scene where "groups of seventh and eighth graders rent limousines to take them to clubs in Manhattan, where they get drunk, grind on the dance floor and have oral sex in dim corners." (The question of where in the world their parents are and how they get away with this would be column in itself.) He says that while many of the very young teenage girls he sees aren't having intercourse itself, oral sex is so common to them it's like "a goodnight kiss."

A half dozen 13-year-old boys who attend a private school in Manhattan talked to Jarrell, and described a process of sexual discovery that starts early and grows ever more explicit so that, as one boy said, by ninth grade "it's just one big spree of going all the way." Early teenage bravado? Maybe. But the head of the school the boys attended said she thought that was accurate.

So, what does all this have to do with the reported rape of the 9-year-old child by those young boys? Dr. Frederick Kaeser, the director of health services for a district of New York public schools which covers much of Manhattan, ominously told Jarrell that "The kids are overwhelmed with sexual messages, and we're seeing a younger and younger display of not only precocious sexual behavior but also aggressive sexual molestation ..." (italics mine.)

He added tellingly, "We do a terrible job of teaching sex education."

And that really does say it all. More sex-ed would lead to less molestation? Gee. Then I can only imagine what kind of classes it would take to prevent the outright rape of little girls.

But this skewed thinking fits right in with what seems to be the attitude of the elite psychologists interviewed for the Jarrell piece. Yes, some of them found the early, detached sexual activity described in the article "troubling," primarily because of the risk of emotional or physical fallout for the children. But there was generally agreement among them, according to Jarrell, that "what is needed is not just to supply youngsters with facts and information about anatomy, but also to provide them with forums to explore their feelings and to digest the proliferation of sexual messages they receive."

Or, as Francesca Schwartz, a psychologist at an elite Manhattan girls school said, "do I really like this person? Or am I just doing this to be popular? These are the questions the kids need to learn to think about and ask."

No, what these kids need to learn is that such illicit sexual activity is always morally wrong and unacceptable. And that that's the standard the adults in their lives will hold them to. But of course today such clear, decisive value judgements are deemed wholly "intolerant" by our elite. Which seems to me at least one reason we may be tragically forced to "tolerate" more and more news stories about things like little girls being raped by young boys in a New York City public school.

JWR contributor Betsy Hart, a frequent commentator on CNN and the Fox News Channel, can be reached by clicking here.


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03/30/00: Getting an education about schools
03/22/00: If you're a parent, act like one!
03/14/00: Not child advocates, but self-advocates
03/06/00: McCain not what he seemed at first
02/29/00: An effective answer to social problems
02/22/00: The feminists' newest target: Toys
02/06/00: Harassing the harassers
01/31/00: It doesn't take a village to raise a child --- it takes a scheduler
01/25/00: Psuedo science and global warming
01/18/00: Socially responsible nonsense
01/10/00: Monica may be onto something
12/27/99: Sometimes it matters quite a lot what government thinks
12/17/99: Teens have no inherent 'right to privacy'
12/10/99: Buying a minivan and tossing the SUV
12/03/99: On the mommy track
11/05/99:The waste of recycling
11/01/99: Welcome to Harvard pre-school
10/22/99: No disaster for women that Dole is out
10/19/99: 'Humanitarian' hypocrites
10/15/99: On a first-name basis with a three-year-old

© 2000, Scripps Howard News Service