Tonight we’ll have eight 14-year-old girls over to our house. Our daughter and her friends just have to be together to watch to premiere of Camp Rock, a Disney Channel movie starring the Jonas Brothers, a pop-rock band made of three siblings. This week, the flick saw favorable reviews by many critics who found it delightful and squeaky-clean. The film is expected to shatter records set by predecessor, High School Musical.
We do not have the largest television or best media center of our daughter’s friend circle. At the Konigs’, it’s just the basement family room which, frankly, smells a little funny. My husband and I are happy that our eldest child wants to be home on the eve of her 14th birthday. She just graduated from eighth grade and has spent the week celebrating with mini golf, paddle boats, karaoke, and lots of pizza.
My boasting about the fortunately slow-paced and innocent upbringing of our teenager is really triggered by a Time magazine story this week concerning a Massachusetts high school where girls are becoming pregnant in record numbers, not by accident but by design. It seems the Gloucester High School girls (at least 17 of them) had a pact to become pregnant. One was reportedly assisted in her quest by a 24-year-old homeless man. None of the girls is older than 16.
One moment kids want to giggle and eat sugar and dance around the basement and watch funny videos on YouTube, and the next they want to have babies. Where are the parents?
The Time story suggested the economy was a factor for these young girls facing a hopeless future. The fishing industry that supports the community has been in a downturn for many years. But a strong economy doesn’t make you feel loved. Your parents do.
Our daughter has practically raised her three younger brothers and knows all about the responsibilities of babies. She doesn’t want that for herself. Nor should she — she’s a child.
And returning to the theme of tonight’s shindig, if I am simply naïve when it comes to today’s teenagers, then why are the wholesome Jonas Brothers, who have spoken publicly about their desire to remain abstinent until marriage, kabillionaires?
Jamie Lynn Spears, Britney’s younger sister who got pregnant at 16, is now an unemployed, unwed mother. Miley Cyrus, whose good image was sullied only by the suggestive photographs taken by Annie Leibowitz, continues to enjoy fame and fortune by remaining true to her age.
Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, told The Today Show he wasn’t around when the photo was taken. He should have been. Ms. Cyrus, one of the most-monitored and -packaged Disney stars, was taken advantage of when the grownups looked the other way.
Kids, when left unattended will be manipulated, misled, misinformed. They are naïve and don’t know enough yet.
I plan to sit on my porch and protect my kids and preserve their childhoods. I have a baseball bat and some padlocks. And I might blast some Jonas Brothers tunes. Just for the good, clean karma.
– Susan Konig’s book I Wear the Maternity Pants in This Family is available at MySpace.com/susankonig.