Not quite sure what to make of this

It's an odd story that conflicts me in some ways. Take a read

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A mother faces criminal charges after she hired a stripper to dance at her 16-year-old son’s birthday party.

Anette Pharris, 34, has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and involving a minor in obscene acts. The boy’s father, the stripper and two others also face charges.

“I tried to do something special for my son,” Pharris said. “It didn’t harm him.”

Now the easy thing to do is point and laugh, so I'll do that first. You've got to be pretty dumb to think that this is a good idea, especially if you're involving your son's underage friends. She may have a defense for hiring the stripper for her kid, but letting the friends get in on it was just stupid.

But that said, the mother does have a point, at least in this respect. By 16, I had my own porn stash, and if I'd had a chance to see a woman naked, I'd have jumped at it, as most 16 year old boys would. I'd snuck into bad movies just to see a titty or two. And that was twenty years ago. Advertising and popular culture is forever pushing the limits of what's acceptable in terms of sexuality involving people below the arbitrary age we've set for adulthood, and looking at the age differnce between this mother and her son (she was apparently 18 when she had him), it wouldn't surprise me in the least if he's already sexually active, and perhaps on his way to becoming a teen father in his own right.

And here's the point where I get conflicted. Child abuse laws are necessary, no doubt, but they're always treading that fine line between governmental interference and personal judgment, and there's no way to change that. But there's a reason that they tend to focus on physical abuse--that's because physical abuse, even sexual, can usually be proven with physical evidence. But is this abuse? Do these parents have the right to teach their kid about sexuality in a way of their choosing? Sure, I may not agree with the method--I'm certainly not taking my daughter to the Chippendales for her sweet sixteen--but I also know that kids develop sexually at different paces, and the only reason we have a bright line definition of 18 is that we've got to have one somewhere and we agreed upon 18 as a society.

Not to be flip about this, but here's one more indication of the intelligence level of the parent here. She got busted because she took pictures and the drug store turned her in when she got them developed. Lady--digital cameras are the way to go if there's going to be nudity involved. Jeez.

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