Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm Going to Go Against the Grain

The Washington Post reported on a gum chewing exercise done by some speakers in high schools to demonstrate how STDs are spread. Am I the only one that thinks this is a great (yes, gross, but still pretty harmless) way to drive home an important point?

I mean really, the -parents- are grossed out? The education and health officials are up in arms? Ok, ok, it's their job to protect us against ourselves. But let's be real. As quoted:
"This basically is an unacceptable and unsanitary practice. It should never occur," said Judith Covich, director of school health services at the county health department. "The risk is about the same as sharing a glass, sharing the same straw." The practice carried a low risk of spreading the cold or flu, she said.
The risk is about the same as sharing a glass, sharing the same straw.
Both the kids who are going ahead with the exercise and the adults who are against them having the option are missing the objective points. The leaders of these exercises are trying to get the kids to experiment in a safe manner that doesn't involve any risk. If it's gross to chew someone else's gum, something that's been in their mouth and mixed with their body fluids and picked up their germs (and these are the mostly harmless germs unless one of the participants is suffering strep or mono) with no side effects except for the icky factor... and the germ and icky factor goes up with each successive chewer... then compare that with what happens with sexual contact and repeated contacts with different people.
You know, I almost wouldn't get angry if my kid -did- come down with a cold, the flu, strep or some other mouth transferred illness. That would drive home the intended message pretty darn clearly, wouldn't it?
I guess it's a good thing my kids aren't in high school yet. I'd probably be shunned as a heartless, unsanitary, risky parent who obviously doesn't care about the health and well-being of my kids. Letting them chew someone else's gum... indeed.
Now, do I think that kids -should- share gum, or straws or glasses or much of anything else that has already visited a mouth? No. I too think it's gross and an unnecessary risk to catch some germs we certainly don't need on a day to day basis. And there's always that backwash problem. Ew. But as part of a demonstration to have my kids think about the risks of sex in a practical manner... yeah, I'd have to say I think the idea is a good one.

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