A 12-year-old Virginia boy-we’ll call him Tom-was wearing the new wigger style: baggy pants slung low around the hips, under an oversized T-shirt. One of the hazards of the wigger style is that if the pants catch on anything, they’re easy to pull down.
That’s exactly what happened to Tom one day at school. On a childish impulse, he flipped up his T-shirt and “mooned” some of his classmates.
A generation ago, Tom’s teachers might have lectured him on modesty and decorum. But not these days. Instead, the teachers trotted out a new politically correct label: They charged Tom with sexual harassment.
Tracking sexual harassment has become the latest fad in education. The American Association of University Women (AAUW) recently published a national survey claiming that it is epidemic in the public schools.
The report sparked a lively political debate. The Left embraced it with passion, calling for more counselors, more therapists, more laws. The Right tended to dismiss the report as showing merely that “boys will be boys.”
But both sides are missing the point: The truth is that our schools are getting worse-but training kids in political correctness is not the solution.
The problem with the Left is that it is exaggerating the problem in order to create a crisis mentality. The AAUW’s report offers a definition of sexual harassment so broad that our schools look like sexual battlegrounds.
As a result kids like Tom are being strapped with a politically charged label for behavior that’s more on the level of a childish prank than a crime. Staring at someone or cracking a dirty joke is impolite, but it is far removed from the older definition of sexual harassment, which involved real coercion.
On the other hand, a “boys will be boys” response is woefully inadequate. Boys are not just being boys; many are becoming sexual predators.
And no wonder. These are kids who absorb sexual innuendo every night watching MTV and “Beverly Hills 90210.” These are kids who have grown up with highly explicit sex-education programs that break down the barriers of sexual modesty-often as a matter of deliberate policy. Some programs even require kids to learn crude street slang for sexual terms.
Come, now. When school curricula require kids to learn four-letter words under a teacher’s approval, why are we so shocked when they use the same words in the school hallways?
And they’re doing more than just talking dirty. We’re beginning to hear alarming reports of serious sexual threats in schools-of guys who pull at a girl’s clothing or trap her in the hallway and grab at her.
Behavior like this used to be seen as a moral problem. But today moral language is taboo; instead those who want to protect youngsters feel they have to resort to the politically correct lingo of sexual harassment.
I say it’s time to resurrect the biblical language of purity, modesty, and self-restraint. We do have an epidemic today, but it’s not the kind AAUW talks about. It’s an epidemic of what the Bible calls lawlessness, people rejecting God’s moral law.
And then wondering why, oh why, kids are so bad these days.