June 4, 2020

Giving Students the Right to Duct Tape

posted on: Thursday February 18, 2010

Nicholas Carrigg ’10 / Guest Commentary

About a week ago, my friends and I started a competition to see which one of us could get into the best shape by May. Now we are all focusing on exercising consistently and eating healthily. In terms of the former, I am usually avid, but when it comes to the latter, I admit that desserts are my weakness. Nothing caps off a Ray meal like some coffee and chocolate chip cookies – so long as they’re the soft kind, of course. Yet, despite the ghrelin surging through my system – a hormone that makes some foods seem more appealing than others – I breeze past the dessert display and opt for an orange instead. How can I resist this urge to binge on a delectable baked good? I believe that the term is Free Will.

It was during a dinner like the one described above that I stumbled upon the commentary entitled “A More Sensitive Approach to Teen Moms” written by Katrina Davino ‘10. In her piece, Davino critiques an article entitled “Dropping the Bomb on Teen Moms” by Viviana Garcia ‘12. After re-reading both pieces, I can understand how Garcia’s passionate style can be taken in the wrong way. However, it appears that Davino became so caught up in Garcia’s diction that she missed the point of Garcia’s article: because teen mothers and their children lack the support that marriage offers, they deserve our sympathy, not a cold shoulder. Furthermore, because teen mothers and their babies are at such a disadvantage, any society that promotes teens getting themselves into such a situation is going in the wrong direction.

Davino also critiques Garcia’s stance on contraception. She states that ‘”guys and girls are going to have sex,”—not, as [Garcia] claims, because they might have access to contraception, but because they are hormone-driven teenagers.” Because teenagers are apparently compelled to act upon their sex drives, Davino implies that teaching them sexual discipline is a fruitless enterprise. Davino’s suggestion? Remove the immediate consequences per act with contraceptives.

Now, let us apply Miss Davino’s theory to my appetite for confectioneries. According to her system, rather than avoiding the dessert section, I should seal my mouth with a piece of duct tape after finishing my main course each night. This way, when I walk past that luscious piece of chocolate cake, I can have at it to my heart’s content. If this is indeed the only way for us to control our passions, then I believe that the students of Providence College have a right to duct tape. It should be provided at the entrance to Ray.

“Next, please! Oh, don’t forget your tape, Honey.”

This is obviously ridiculous, but it is also the logical conclusion to Davino’s argument about the nature of human appetites. To be fair, she does provide statistics from Texas about a correlation between high teen pregnancy rates and required parental consent for obtaining contraceptives, but correlation does prove causation. The statistics do not tell us if or how these girls are being taught sexual morality at home, and the data certainly do not prove that teens have no control over their sex drives. If parents do not explain to their children that sex is meant for the procreation of life, and that all new life deserves the support of marriage, then we cannot expect teenagers to practice abstinence.The key to stopping teen pregnancy is not to discredit teenagers’ free will – thereby insulting their personhood – but to give them the tools to exercise it moderately. Slapping duct tape on my mouth after dinner will not discipline my appetite. It forces me to be its slave. However, should I learn to abstain from dessert except when it is appropriate – I’m sticking with the weekends – then I am in control and certainly more appreciative. So too for teen sex drives. If teenagers are not just taught to abstain until marriage, but are also given the encouragement and means to avoid temptation, then we are attacking the problem of teen pregnancy at it its source. This is true chastity and true freedom.

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