March 21, 2007

In Contrast

I saw this story go by in Fark, and it turns out to be local-ish:

A mother and her boyfriend were sentenced to three years probation on Monday for having intercourse in front of the woman’s 9-year-old daughter to teach the girl about sex.
Chief Family Court Judge Jeremiah S. Jeremiah Jr. sentenced Rebecca Arnold of Woonsocket, and her boyfriend, David Prata, to probation and a three-year suspended sentence after they pleaded no contest to a felony child neglect charge.

Probation for exposing a girl to sex between her mother and someone who is not her father. It will be interesting to see how this sentence compares to the Julie Amero case, when sentencing is completed this month. She’s looking at the possibility of 40 years in prison after a court found her guilty of not acting quickly enough to stop kids form seeing pornography on a school computer. (As noted earlier, there are problems with the case itself, IMHO)

Posted by James at March 21, 2007 7:50 AM
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Can't get to the link, but I absolutely remember this story. One report featured the mother saying although the girl was on the same bed as the two adults while they had sex, the girl was never forced to watch or join in, and was always free to leave.

Well that's a comfort, isn't it?

Ew, ew, ew. How many years of therapy will she need after watching her mother get it on in front of her? And it makes no difference if she's married to this guy--it's still creepy. One wonders if they experienced perverse joy in having her in the room.

Pardon me while I wash with hot bleach.

As you point out, this makes the Julie Amero case look even more ridiculous. Let's see here: unintentional pop-up orn-pay versus intentional repeated sexual acts in front of a child. Hmm...which is worse? I wonder.

Posted by: Patti M. at March 21, 2007 9:34 AM

The Amero case is beyond the beyond as ridiculousness goes. I was reading about a teacher who was convicted of 28 counts of rape for repeatedly having sex with a student over the course of a week... it was an awful case, she apparently gave the kid alcohol and did just crazy stuff like let him drive her car. She got 10 years. Her lawyer is appealing the sentence on the grounds that most other teachers convicted for having sex with students get far less than 10 years.

And Amero is looking at 40 years. For porn pop-ups. It boggles the mind. If she had raped one of the students instead, she'd be looking at less jailtime. How is that possible?

Regarding this new case James, I agree with Patti. "Ew, ew, ew." That's effed up, yo. 3-years suspended? Wow they must have really convinced that judge that they were totally sincerely just trying to educate and never even considered that this might be considered wrong.

My head keeps shaking. This has been the week for outrageous news.

Posted by: Chuck S. at March 21, 2007 10:08 AM

Yeah. Ok. That's sick. Amero should sue her lawyer for malpractice. Except of course that lawyers are probably really good at not getting sued. Where are the 'activist judges' when we need them?

Posted by: briwei at March 21, 2007 10:15 AM

This story reminds me of a conversation I had with my ex-girlfriend about the differences our families had about sex and such.

First she described an incident when she was young (don't remember her age) where she witnessed her mother having her period. As a concerned child, she asker her mother why she was bleeding. The mother explained that this was something that happened to adult females and that it would happen to her as well. Therefore, when she had her 1st period, it was not a shock to her.
This was very strange to me. In helping my mom fill out medical paperwork, it was difficult to ask questions relating to menopause.

Sex was never a topic in my immigrant Catholic home. Puberty, erections, and masturbation were never talked about or mentioned. Let's see, my older brother received some haymakers from my mom when he and his friend were caught watching a porno. The friend escaped out of the house. Also, my mom went balistic when she found a condom (still in wrapper) hidden in my brother's room.

In the absence of information, youth often rely on any information, usually from other equally misguided youth.

What is weird is that my maternal grandparents were very open about such topics. I didn't see them much since they lived abroad but they visited sometimes.

Most notably, my 70+ yr old grandma used to expose her veiny and wrinkly breast and chase me around the coffee table - an event that will surely be repeated to a therapist in the future, lol. Also, my grandparents happened to be visiting when I noticed my first pubic hair. This was something they had asked about before and was a source of great pride. I ran out of the bathroom to show them. As I ran to the kitchen table, my parents jaws dropped in disbelief while my grandparents laughed hysterically.

The point is that in the US, we are too concened about keeping kids away from vices which ultimately lead them to those vices. Should a couple have sex in front of their 9 year old? Obviously Not. However, you can't protect kids away from everything. Sometimes images appear as pop-ups on computer screens or Bugs Bunny dresses as a female to lure the other character.

All I know is that this country as some major problems with image (see skeletal celebrities) and sex.

Posted by: at March 21, 2007 12:38 PM

Actually, I'm not as appalled by this as the rest of you. I don't want to have sex in front of my children, I certainly would not wish to see my parents having sex, but I can imagine a culture in which it is viewed as natural and not disgusting. Also, I don't know if I would have been appalled as a child to see this -- my mother was somewhat open about the female body and what I should expect, and I think I would've considered that just one more thing.

Sex is portrayed as a sort of bodily function that isn't hidden from children in a number of fitions I've read -- the Jean Auel Earth's Children series, for one (both Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal cultures), and in Ken Follet's The Pillars of the Earth, an historical fiction set in England around the time of Henry II, also novels I recently read about John I of England (same time frame). If the family is housed in a single room and sex is one of the few entertainments, I think it's natural that the parents don't worry if the kids are asleep or not, and the kids learn about one more bodily function.

So whereas it's not a choice I would make and it's not culturally accepted, I'm not appalled, and I've known families that I can imagine would be open about sex (but I don't know of any incidents). I'm open about everything else with my daughters and I will discuss any facet of sex with them if they ask -- just not my personal sex life, because it goes beyond my comfort zone.

I have a funny anecdote about this but I need to run off, maybe I'll comment it in later.

Posted by: Maggie at March 21, 2007 1:06 PM


So, if your daughters asked for tips about sex such as oral sex, you would give them pointers?

P.S. I agree with your statements about "back in the day" homes were one room and unavoidable - reminds me of college dorms. However, to be that blatant to have sex in front of a 9-year old is unacceptable.

Posted by: at March 21, 2007 1:12 PM

First, I think you have to believe these people were having sex in front of the child to "teach her about sex." That's a bit much for me to swallow, pun intended.

I agree a you should be open in discussing sex with your children. Who better to teach children than their parents, unless the parents are uneducated about the human body or are going to instill in their children all the hang-ups and misconceptions they have.

Look. If you really want to teach your kids about sex, there are several ways to do so. I highly recommend giving daughters copies of "Our Bodies, Ourselves." I have the original I was given (pub. date 1973) and the two subsequent republications. This is a great resource. I'm not sure if there's something similar geared towards men.

As for pictorals, find an age-appropriate CD-ROM or other media. DK Publishing had (and may still have) a CD-ROM about sex, which we had as part of our collection at the software company I worked at. In fact, the wife of one of our producers was the narrator.

Give your kids the tools (from qualified sources as mentioned above) and add to that your own frank discussions. Nobody should guess about sex! This is how we end up with unwanted children and sexually-transmitted diseases. If we were all more open in our discussions of sex, both sides of the abortion debate would get what they want: fewer abortions.

Ok, rant over.

Posted by: Patti M. at March 21, 2007 1:29 PM

By the way, I don't know who you are as you have not given a name, but you know Maggie is not suggesting she would give her kids pointers on oral sex.

That's not a helpful post.

Posted by: Patti M. at March 21, 2007 1:33 PM

Anon --
I think it's a cultural issue. There is a continuum of openness, from hiding everything (one woman I know had no idea how you get pregnant when she got married) to the total openness of exposing children to every facet of adult life, including sex. I imagine there are still cultures on the "every facet" end of the spectrum, there certainly have been in the past. Our culture is far too hung up on sex issues and that leads to, as Patti points out, unwanted pregnancies, VD, and sexual dysfunction.

I assume when you're saying that it's unacceptable to have sex in front of your 9-year-old that you're referring to our culture here in the States.

I don't agree with that statement generally -- I think it's incorrect where sex in front of children is culturally accepted, and I don't think there's anything wrong with cultures in which it is.

Here's my story:
I think I posted about telling little M the facts of life under questioning. It began with me telling her how dogs reproduce, because she was reading a story about dogs, and two female dogs had become friends and licked each other's wounds. (M hoped, but I think suspected she was wrong, that they could have puppies together.) So, after a series of questions, I told her exactly how dogs reproduce, and she said, "Thank God people don't have to do that, right Mom? Right Mom? Mom?"

I was telling that story to my friend Gayle, who has two daughters, 14 and 12. Last summer they were on vacation, and so she and her husband were sleeping in one bed in their room, and her daughters were sleeping in the other. At one point during the vacation, her daughters asked if Gayle and her husband still had sex. Gayle thought it was a joke. "Well, of course," she said, and then found out from the shocked reaction that it had not been a joke. A series of questions followed, such as "But not in the house, right?" and "Not when we're home, right?"

So that night, after they were all in bed in their room, Gayle turned out the light and whispered, "Now girls, be sure and tell us when you're asleep."

Posted by: Maggie at March 21, 2007 3:03 PM

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