January 16, 2001
9:51 AM   Subscribe

Oh hell, here we go again.... Mother faces 15 years and $10,000 for buying 13 year old condoms. Why must we be so stupid?
posted by baylink (57 comments total)
Sexually abused?

I'd've been praying to Ghod, thanking Him for letting me get laid. We're getting *more* Puritan as the years go by. What the hell's the problem?

[ Found at Flutterby, BTW. Thanks, Dan. ]
posted by baylink at 9:53 AM on January 16, 2001

I thought condoms expired after they were a year old. ;)
posted by frykitty at 10:09 AM on January 16, 2001


Thats true frykitty, Remember kids, always read the expiration date before using a condom.
posted by th3ph17 at 10:12 AM on January 16, 2001

I don't see how a 13 year old having sex is not a problem. That is still way too young! The mother should have known better. Of Course since I have never been in this situation, I don't really know what I could have done. I suppose smacking him upside the head wouldn't have done much. The penalty is way too steep. Really! I'm thinking of maybe taking the child into the gov't custody and having the mother take some parenting courses and such. If there are any, maybe I'm thinking of that Simpsons episode. "Welcome home abuse-o-rinos"
posted by tiaka at 10:14 AM on January 16, 2001

In all seriousness, I know kids in similar situations. The parenting is fine--they just live in a very different world than I did when I was 13. The best you can do is just what this mother did--try to keep her son safe until he's old enough to understand the consequences of his actions.

If you don't want your toddler to be electrocuted when he sticks a butterknife in a power outlet, then you use safety plugs on the power outlet. Telling him no isn't going to do a lot of good at that point.

In a perfect world, kids would wait. This isn't that world, so you do the best you can.
posted by frykitty at 10:26 AM on January 16, 2001

Remember kids - You shouldn't have sex. You can have sex when you grow up. You aren't ready to have sex yet. Sex is only for mature adults. You can't do it. It would be wrong. And you'd be emotionally damaged.

No sex! Okay?

And don't ask about condoms. It's illegal for me to talk about that.
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2001

"She also said she never told the boy to stop having sex and never contacted police or social service officials to get help in dealing with the boy. Police swore out a complaint against the mother three months later."

No I don't think 13 year olds are mature enough to have sex. Yes, she should have at least said, "Don't have sex until you're older, son." But calling the police on your kid for doing it? That's just outrageous.

And I would rather see a mother buy condoms for her 13 year old son than see that 13 year old son become a 13 year old father.

posted by jennyb at 10:32 AM on January 16, 2001

I still have to think there are other options outside of buying a condom and not even talking to him. I don't know the whole story here either, is she a single mother? What about the father? No mention?
posted by tiaka at 10:39 AM on January 16, 2001

Come on now...we all know than when you tell a kid (especially a teenager) NOT to do something..that will be exactly what he will do. We still have an obligation to our children to have the discussion.

If a 13 year old boy is "dating" a 15 year old girl then sex will result. So after the discussion you protect them. Plain and simple.

As for calling the police or social services, at least for the area I live in, they are backlogged with serious cases of neglect, abuse etc. to take a "help me my teenager wants to have sex" call.

The statistics for teenage STD and AIDS tranmission is rising all the time. Why do the "authorities" insist on arresting cautious parents at the cost of our childrens' lives?
posted by Princess Buttercup at 10:47 AM on January 16, 2001

Clearly, there are other options. You'd think she'd even have tried to tell him no, but that's not at all the issue here. It's about being allowed to raise one's child as one sees fit. If the guy down the street teaches his kid to be a racist, or let's him join a cult, I sure as hell don't agree with it, but I don't think the guy should be jailed for it. Wait...that's actually a conservative view--personal freedom and all--isn't it? I'm confused. I'm supposed to be a bleeding heart liberal. (Somehow, this is John Ashcroft's fault, I'm sure of it.)
posted by jpoulos at 10:49 AM on January 16, 2001

Relax jpoulos, you haven't turned to the dark side yet. Personal freedom is not a conservative view, it's a human right. The ACLU tries to protect personal freedoms, but you wouldn't call them a conservative organization would you?

Some republicans live in a fantasy world it seems, and cases like this shatter their illusion of the perfect family. So what if she is a single mother? Clearly her actions indicate that she was thinking foremost about her child's safety and future. Does that make her a bad parent? I'd say the fact that he actually used the condoms she bought says she's a pretty good parent. The world where teenagers don't have sex doesn't exist, it never did, and it never will. At least she taught her son to be safe and responsible.

As far as this being a case of abuse, I'd have to say that a 13 yo boy having sex with a 15 yo girl is feeling *STOKED* not abused.
posted by ritualdevice at 11:04 AM on January 16, 2001

Tiaka, Re: Simpsons

The line was "Welcome home Neglect-a-rinos."

Just wanted to clarify, now I need to buy some condoms for my 13 year-old.
posted by DragonBoy at 11:11 AM on January 16, 2001

I didn't say she was a bad parent. That's you. I don't think she has done the right thing by just buying the condom and not even talking to him as she has said. Again, I don't know all the facts, and I have said this many times. Each situation is unique, but, it seems to me that if a child is having sex at the age of 13, the parent had to go wrong somewhere. Having sex at the age of 13 is wrong, and when you'll grow up, chances are there will be issues to be dealt with. You are not seriously telling me that all 13 year old had sex or should have sex. She, and this is as I' have read the article, did not see the problem, the issue with her was that sex should come with love.

Ohh yea, neglect-a-rinos.
posted by tiaka at 11:24 AM on January 16, 2001

Amen, ritualdevice. How many parents out there know that their kids are doing things (not just sex, but smoking, drinking, drugs) but refuse to face it? I would bet it's a huge percentage. My parents knew I was having sex as a teen (or at least they had to suspect it) but never bought me condoms. While they weren't bad parents, feigning ignorance when faced with an awkward subject sure doesn't make them better parents that this woman facing charges.
posted by jpoulos at 11:26 AM on January 16, 2001

Btw, I forgot to add this. Is she indeed a single mother? Being one can be hard, and certainly if they're in the lower class. Still, there are many single mother day in and day out manage to raise their kids properly. Mind you I have no idea what 'properly' means, but, it's something the parent believes in and I hope it includes 'no sex at age 13'.
posted by tiaka at 11:27 AM on January 16, 2001

I'm sorry, I don't see what the problem is. What's wrong with a 13 year old having sex? If he's having fun and not hurting anyone, why is this a matter of concern? His partner is only 15; it's not like he's being exploited by an adult who should know better. This is just a case of two kids who figured out how to actually do what all the rest of us would very much have liked to have been doing at their ages.

His mother did exactly the right thing: got him protection, told him how to use it, and then let him continue to do what he was going to do anyway. I wish more mothers were that realistic; there'd probably be a lot less adults with sex hangups.

posted by Mars Saxman at 11:28 AM on January 16, 2001

Also, Tiaka: I don't know how old you are, but kids today have sex very young. When I was young (I'm 30), most of my friends had sex by 17. Many had done it by 15, and a few by 14. (This was a middle class town outside of Boston, and my peers were all part of a Catholic Church youth group.) I wouldn't be suprised to find the average at around 14 these days. Do I think it's too young, yes, but given the choice between protecting a child's health (even life) and protecting their emotional development on the subject of sex, I'll choose the former.
posted by jpoulos at 11:34 AM on January 16, 2001

A 13-year-old shouldn't be having sex. His mother, perhaps, should have made this more clear. But is this a legal issue? Hell no.
posted by dagnyscott at 11:49 AM on January 16, 2001

Well, see? You don't think it's basically right to have sex that young. If there are no other options left, then she did indeed do the right thing. But, as far as that article notes, she did not do that. She bought condoms in packs and left him do whatever he wants. Condoms aren't fail-proof, and even if he does use it, there is a chance something can go wrong. Abstinence is the only 'total' safe way to protect yourself, and insure he's not going to become a parent at 13, seeing how there would be no sex. heh. She should have at least tried talking to him or maybe asking for advice. I'm just saying that there has to be another option.
posted by tiaka at 11:51 AM on January 16, 2001

Also, I'd just like to add that though the article says she didn't try to look for help or whatever, I highly doubt she "didn't even say anything" about it to her son. It would be unrealistic for her to not even mention that he's a bit young for sex - she probably did, and also realized that it wouldn't stop him, so what's the next best thing? Do her best to make sure he doesn't get HIV.
posted by swank6 at 11:52 AM on January 16, 2001

"She also said she never told the boy to stop having sex..."

"When asked why she allowed the boy to continue to engage in sex, the mother told police that her son was too young to "understand that sex should come with love.""
posted by tiaka at 11:56 AM on January 16, 2001

On what's wrong with a 13-year-old having sex: I've never met a 13 y/o that truly understood the consequences of sex, nor one that was mature enough to raise a child.

Of course, there are a lot of adults that fall into the same category. ;) Still, at 13, you're more or less guaranteed a certain level of emotional ignorance. That's the way it should be.

Everything from the media to the chemicals and fat we pump into our food to the sedentary nature of modern childhood rushes sexual maturity. Our children's bodies are rushing ahead of their brains. All we can do is keep them safe until the brain catches up.
posted by frykitty at 12:04 PM on January 16, 2001

All we can do is keep them safe until the brain catches up.

Seems to me that's exactly what this mother was doing.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:36 PM on January 16, 2001

1) Mom is probably just an average loving American Mom who has trouble talking about sex with their kids.
2) The kid is normal for cat's sake! He's going through puberty and is perpetually horny! He's in a hormone storm.
3) The truly sad part is the stern faced, highly educated legal types who make judgements and still try to legislate normal human hormonal development. If the idiotic laws had not been passed in the first place, Mom would not be charged. Work to get your state laws changed.
posted by Snarf at 12:41 PM on January 16, 2001

Somedays it seems like no one can win in today's society. A mother responds as responsibly as she can when her young son confronts her with his sexual activity, she buys him condoms to keep him safe. He fears he's contracted an STD, so he seeks help. The result? His mother may go to jail. Give me a break, this stuff should be encouraged! We don't need to go back to the days of ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. Sure, it's better to wait, but if your 13-year-old boys already doing it, do you really think you're going to stop him? Keeping him safe is the next best option.
posted by megnut at 12:46 PM on January 16, 2001

tiaka: If there are no other options left, then she did indeed do the right thing. But, as far as that article notes, she did not do that.

Moral judgements aside, do you think that warrants her being arrested?
posted by jennyb at 1:01 PM on January 16, 2001

Wow, this thread more than any other has opened my eyes to the differing opinions of MeFis...

Do any of you really think that there is something WRONG with a 13 year old having sex? 100 years ago, it was common to marry your children off at the ages of 13-14. Women bore children at those ages. The human body is developed enough to be ready to have sex at that time, and there is NO EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that the act of consentual sex at the age of 13-14 with a partner of a similar age will cause any problems later in life. You might want to analyze the reasons YOU are saying Having sex at the age of 13 is wrong.

I was a rebellious kid, and started having sex at age 15. It was one of the best days of my life. I think that I could have appreciated the experience just as much at age 13...
posted by Neb at 1:02 PM on January 16, 2001

jennyb - No, I do not.
posted by tiaka at 1:09 PM on January 16, 2001

Actually, there is significant evidence that the younger females begin having sex, the higher their incidence of cervical dysplasia and cancer. (Hence the warning to begin having regular Pap smears at age 18 or at the outset of regular sexual activity, whichever comes earlier.)

I concur with the voices which have said that at age 13, a child is in no way emotionally or psychologically prepared to deal with the potential consequences that can arise from sex. STDs and pregnancy aside, a typical 13 year old is going to be far more of a mess at the breakup of a relationship that is that serious than even a 15 year old. It's just more than they should be dealing with. A 13 year old is still a child; we should be encouraging them to be children, and not rush into adult life, including sex.

In addition, the mother was neglectful, she seemingly presented no information to her son regarding the possibility of waiting, and did not encourage him to do anything other than use condoms, which as noted are not 100% foolproof by any means.

Is it criminal? Well, with a child that young in an age where sex can kill or have lifelong consequences, it's certainly something worth looking into. Better to have her lose the kid than do time in jail. Get him someplace where someone gives a damn and tries to education him about options and get her some parenting classes quickly. If she can't talk to her 13 year old about sex, what is she going to do when he's 16 and wants to shoot heroin, just make sure that he has an available supply of clean needles?
posted by Dreama at 1:18 PM on January 16, 2001

Oy, tries to educate him, not education him. Duh.
posted by Dreama at 1:19 PM on January 16, 2001

I know plenty of people in their 20's/30's/etc that aren't mature enough to be having sex.

What I wanna know is where these 15 year old heartbreakers were when I was 13?
posted by Hankins at 1:20 PM on January 16, 2001

Oh please, now the conservatives in the group are coming out about options and education. Can I accuse a mother of being neglectful if she doesn't help her child get condoms, and only preaches abstinence, thus putting her/him at risk?

also, I commend neb for saying what some of us (admittedly, me) have been afraid to suggest--that it isn't the end of the world to have consensual sex with a partner of the same age, even at 13. Would I want my child to do it? my instinct says no, but i have a hard time coming with a rational explanation why. some of us feel they would have been "emotionally harmed" by early sex, and that may be true. but would they have been harmed if they hadn't been raised to believe that sex was an unspeakable taboo.
posted by jpoulos at 1:36 PM on January 16, 2001

Hawkins - Ok, fine, but, if we were to measure by this, then say a 9 year old could have sex? or?

joules - it is a bit unfair for you to singly out ''conservatives' simply because they don't think that 12 year olds having sex is a great idea. There are other options than 'preaching' abstinence. I'm glad you used that word - 'preaching', it works.
posted by tiaka at 1:57 PM on January 16, 2001

tiaka - what I meant was that when she says that I think she means she never had a long, sit-down talk with the kid about it. But it would seem a bit odd if she never even at all mentioned that sex at age 13 is a bit early and he shouldn't do it. It's hard to believe that she never briefly spoke about it.
posted by swank6 at 2:04 PM on January 16, 2001

Wow, according to recent threads, one can go from breast feeding to actual sex in a mere 7 years.

The only remarkable thing to me, is how little I care what age kids (other than my own) start having sex at. Raise your own kids, leave the woman alone. This is not a crime, tho I can allow that it is incredibly stupid.

And if that particular 13 year old came near my (non-existant) daughter, I would twist his head off. That would be the point where the kid moves from possibly screwing up his own life, to possibly screwing up my daughters. Not gonna happen.
posted by thirteen at 2:09 PM on January 16, 2001

If I find out my daughter has sex at 13, it's the nunnery. Of course, by then I'm sure the enlightened view will insist children should be start copulating in the preemie ward. If the incubator's rockin', don't come a knockin'!
posted by lileks at 2:11 PM on January 16, 2001

HEY! The answer is simple. Lets just take all the freedoms away from our kids. Keep the girls in a closed guarded area and teach them to cook, sew and clean.
Chop the head off of any male who comes in to the forbidden area. They are supposed to be out in the fields anyway.
When the female gets old enough, her Father can arrange a marriage for her and then she can become sexually active. She has been protected.
The males will be herded together and taught to hunt, kill, plant, grow and provide. Maybe their Fathers can connect with the Father of a Hottie and get something going. If not, veils still exist and lights can be turned off.
Till the marriage is arranged, keep a close watch on all the domestic animals lest they be defamed.
posted by Snarf at 2:13 PM on January 16, 2001

Which is the whole pont, Snarf. Is a mother "talking sense" to her 13 year old if she never does anything more than buying him condoms?
posted by Dreama at 2:25 PM on January 16, 2001

Well, I guess I hit a winner with this one. One observation: some people seem to have the impression the mother called the cops.

All I can say to those people is: read the rest of the story. :-)

It is nice, though to see some of what *I* would call rational opinions on this thread; thanks, notably, to Mars.
posted by baylink at 2:34 PM on January 16, 2001

To comment on the thread (before it's, apparently inevitable, closure) it seems to me that popular opinion is slightly adrift from reality when it comes to teenage sex.
Surely they're just trying to do what they're told: behave like an adult. Bear in mind that sex is about the most adult thing you can do in our culture. The only thing that comes close is driving (another "initiation into adult" thing).
posted by davidgentle at 4:59 PM on January 16, 2001

The only thing that comes close [to sex as an adult initiation action] is driving.

And drinking. And maybe getting one's first job.
posted by kindall at 5:36 PM on January 16, 2001

Kindall: Point taken. Then point I was trying to make is that kids do this stuff because they identify it with adulthood. They're just trying to be "adult". Though I'm not sure that many youngsters associate jobs with adulthood as much as drink, driving and sex. I think a job would probably come 4th. But then I'm 27 so what would I know?
posted by davidgentle at 6:16 PM on January 16, 2001

Americans = weird.
posted by tranquileye at 6:28 PM on January 16, 2001

Are parents supposed to CONTROL their kids? Or are they supposed to GUIDE and EDUCATE them and help them learn how to make their OWN decisions? If a 13yr.old. intends on having sex, can a parent STOP them? If you're not bringing your child up to make his/her own decisions, then when exactly WOULD they be "ready" to choose anything for themselves? When someone turns 18 they aren't suddenly connected to their integrity or sense of self. We keep trying to draw lines and then we, including those under 18, color outside the lines, and then we try to draw NEW lines to cover all of THOSE new situations that come up - the lines don't work - maybe education and guidance will? :-)
posted by thunder at 6:50 PM on January 16, 2001

At least this mother has some idea of what he was up to.

The boy also told the officer that his mother knew he was sexually active...

Which, I'd therefore suggest, at least makes her a better parent than those who don't.
posted by normy at 7:33 PM on January 16, 2001

the prosecution might have trouble proving that the mom could have done something to stop her son from having sex.

The charge was the mother failed to prevent her child from being sexually abused? I think the prosecution is going to have a harder time proving that his 15 yr old girlfriend abused him...
posted by Neb at 8:27 PM on January 16, 2001

I agree with Normy. Maybe she could & should have done more, maybe not, but I think she's a much better parent than than those who don't know their kids are having sex... in other words, better than most parents in America.
posted by David Gaddis at 5:13 AM on January 17, 2001

Yeah... since they can't arrest the 15 year old for abuse, how can they arrest the mother.

You know the police are gonna back off this one when the DA says "what are you guys, nutso?"

To answer Thunder's query: it's the job of parents to draw lines; it's the job of kids to color outside them. We are where we are, in part, because Benjamin Spock and others suggested that parents move the lines.

It's not your job to be your kids' best friend, it's your job to be their *parent*. Different thing entirely. If you're so insecure that your kids' "hating you" bugs you that bad, you're too insecure to raise kids.
posted by baylink at 10:11 AM on January 17, 2001

It would be interesting to see how this case ends up. Unfortunately, we probably won't know. Everyone keep their eyes peeled...
posted by swank6 at 4:28 PM on January 17, 2001

Hahaha. This story is so moronic. A possible 15 years? American justice at its best. Most murderers in the UK don't get that.

Perhaps that family should haul its ass over to Europe. The kid would be getting free condoms in school (no joke).. and if he got his girlfriend pregnant, the school nurse would give her a morning-after pill. It seems like you Americans don't want your 13 year olds having sex.. (!)

Okay, so the American system is too draconian, and the European system is morally disgusting. Perhaps Australia is the answer?
posted by wackybrit at 6:48 PM on January 17, 2001

"Morally disgusting"?

Not to *me*...
posted by baylink at 7:23 PM on January 17, 2001

It depends on whether you think handing out condoms no-questions-asked to 12 year olds is morally sound.

Not only that, but any girl can go to her school nurse and be administered with a morning after pill now! School nurses aren't allowed to give a kid an aspirin or paracetmol, but they can give them a high dose hormone pill?

Then again, common sense doesn't really seem to be a strong point with most teens nowadays. Time to blame the parents.
posted by wackybrit at 7:52 AM on January 18, 2001

and the European system is morally disgusting.

a) which european system?

b) the one you parody sounds reasonable to me.

Not only that, but any girl can go to her school nurse and be administered with a morning after pill now!

Better she endure screwed up hormones for a few days than a screwed up life forever.

posted by Mars Saxman at 12:05 PM on January 18, 2001

a) I specifically meant the UK, but I guess it could be cast across Europe as a whole. Sexual hygiene across Europe is hardly known to be first-rate. Come to Europe, take home herpes!

b) I hate to sound like some 50 year old Christian Mom, but put simply.. in our society, 12/13 year old kids shouldn't be having sex! However, it's almost 'accepted' in Europe now, which is disgusting. On the other hand, the US is over draconian.

On the third point.. we're getting too used to the 'pop a pill' culture. #13 yr old girl# Oops! I went and had unprotected sex.. oh well, who cares, I can go get a pill if I need one!

So.. instead of teaching our kids not to go having sex at such a ridiculous age.. we should just teach them that pills are the answer to everything. I think not.
posted by wackybrit at 12:51 PM on January 18, 2001

I think that a pill is by far the lessor evil if a teenager suspects she is pregnant.

They should be educated as to the alternatives and dangers yes I agree, but the pills exist, and there is no reason that I can see not to make them available.

It is a rather unusual idea to us in the Western world to think of children who are that young having sex. I'm not saying it's a good situation, I'm glad I waited. The reality is there though, and while we debate the rights or wrongs of it these young people need to have access to birth control, the morning after pill, education, and know that they can seek unjudgemental advice from somebody who exists outside of their family, so they at least have that choice if the support network within their own family structure has broken down or does not exist.
posted by lucien at 3:46 AM on January 19, 2001

I agree with your final comments about providing external advice. However, I am not so supportive of the view that 'It happens, so let's dole out the remedy anyway.' Simple fact, they shouldn't be doing it, and I'd raise my kids to be a bit more intelligent than the idiotic 12 year olds sleeping around now. Infact, I blame the parents far more than the kids. Soo soo lax nowadays. My parents brought me up firmly but fairly, and if I'd have done anything like that at 12 years old, I knew I would have had a severe bollocking.

Then again, political correctness doesn't help nowadays, we all have to be 100% supportive of whatever kids want to do, and never restrict their 'free-will'.

Infact, saw a funny story in the paper today. A headmaster (principal) of a school said about 6 of his 11 year old pupils getting pregnant recently: 'We tell them not to do it, but they do anyway.' Oh, what an attitude! The IRA keep planting bombs and we tell them not to. Oh well, what can we do?
posted by wackybrit at 7:32 AM on January 19, 2001

C'mon, Wack; the two concepts do *not* necessarily tie together. We *don't* have to be 100% supportive of whatever kids want to do, and we *should* restrict some of their free will... and yet, some of them are going to get knocked up *anyway* -- especially as long as we continue *not* to educate them properly, whether in school or at home.

We should force them through a pregnancy?

Yeah, that'll larn em, won't it?
posted by baylink at 8:24 AM on January 19, 2001

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