Silence is golden

The trend in our society of late is to discuss everything. The liberal penchant for free discussion of any controversial and previously taboo subject has gone awry with the two most popular topics of the day: teen suicide and sex education.

The old saying that “some things are better left unsaid” has many serious holes in it, but in these two cases it applies extremely well. The recent suicides and subsequent publicity about them has touched off a discussion about the role of the media. It seems inherently obvious that the more a society focuses on an issue, the more it disseminates downward to the younger members that have the least ability to deal with it. Such is the case with suicide.

This notion that one can detect and prevent teen suicides by looking for warning signs is silly. The warning signs, if they are so apparent, are the signs that every teenager, and adult for that matter, portray every day: depression, lack of enthusiasm, talk of giving up, loss of sleep—sound familiar?

The same situation concerns sex education in the schools. By bringing it out in the open, all one is doing is legitimizing the already rampant talk that goes on every minute of every day outside of class. Do we really think that we are actually “teaching” the kids anything? If the kids didn’t know what they were doing, do you really think they would be doing it? Hey, folks, they know what they are doing, they know what might happen, and they’re loving every minute of it. Smokers know that they’ll probably get cancer, but there are still smokers out there.

The way society has to combat the problem of teen suicide and teen pregnancy is not education because inherently in their act they’ve shown they know what they are doing. The answer lies in the adults who raise their children. If no one is home to steady the child after he or she has come home from a particularly depressing day, or if the parent gets home after a long day of work and is too tired to talk with the child, that is what plants the seed of helplessness that contributes to suicidal tendencies. The same holds true for sex education. If the parent has been divorced, and more than 50 percent are, more than likely that parent goes on dates and more than likely sleeps with his or her partner on occasion. The kid sees that and the underlying message behind that action by the parent is that it’s OK to sleep with someone you’re not married to. “Do as I say and not as I do” is the worst form of education.

Marc W. Savard

graduate student