News Comment

Thursday 28 August 2014

'No more sex talk - it's time to teach our teenagers self-respect'

The chorus of voices after a sex scandal involving a young Irish girl in Magaluf miss the point, writes Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Published 06/07/2014 | 02:30

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Video of Irish teen performing sex acts on 24 men for a free cocktail goes viral
Video of Irish teen performing sex acts on 24 men for a free cocktail goes viral

Enough. Enough from the feminists ranting about how the woman is always singled out for blame.

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Enough from the parents moralising about how "things like that" never happened in their day.

Enough from the liberals poking at us to let teens do as they please, without fear of judgement.

Enough from the privacy warriors calling for it to be illegal to post sexually explicit images online.

I'm referring in particular to the incident reported last week in which a young Irish girl was videoed in Magaluf performing oral sex on 24 men in return for a free 'holiday' - which turned out to be the name of a cocktail.

The sheer number of men involved is chilling. But the debate that followed amounts to the same white noise we have heard so many times before.

We heard it in the aftermath of an incident in Slane, where a girl was filmed performing oral sex on two men, following the 'Rugby Threesome' affair and we heard in again in the aftermath of the incident in a Dublin venue where a half naked girl was pictured in the middle of a sex act.

I've written on all these cases, yet nothing has changed - or learned from all of it. If anything, these type of situations young teens are finding themselves part of is steadily getting worse.

And this is because we as a society are missing the very heart of the problem. Self-respect.

We have become so focused on educating the youth on sex, implementing full and frank programmes in schools, talking to them about condoms and sexually transmitted diseases, avoiding pregnancy and fighting for abortion rights that we have neglected the basic building block.

Teaching them to have enough confidence and self-regard to ensure they do not to fall short of what they deserve or to tolerate unacceptable situations and relationships.

Today's teenagers are in the middle of a perfect storm. They have more money, more freedom to get away from their parents, more access to holidays abroad, to alcohol and drugs. And the technology to record it all and post in online for the globe to see when it all goes spectacularly wrong.

We are not going to change any of that.

But this is manageable if they are taught about self respect before they venture out into the world with nothing to navigate them but a moral compass and an independent way of thinking.

That little alarm bell in their heads that will sound when they are asked if they want another drink, a pill is placed in their hand - or to sleep with someone before they are really ready.

Where are they supposed to get this from?

You.

Parents at home, teachers in school, older brothers and sisters, a favourite uncle or aunt maybe.

We all had that go-to person to thrash things out with, to develop our characters. And yes, perhaps more often than not, we learned the hard way.

But if you ever recall making the right move as a kid you can always trace it back to someone you looked up to, who helped to teach you right from wrong.

So before you move to judge a girl in a bar that you've never met - or a group of boys getting in on the act, ask yourself if a teenager is depending on you for advice and whether or not you have had that talk with them.

Sunday Independent

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