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On various subjects that don’t readily suggest a title.

By Alice Bradley

First of all, I am proud of you all, my faithful Wonderland readers, for keeping last week’s comments on-topic, smart, and (relatively) light on the personal attacks. I didn’t have to delete a single comment, not one, and so far no one’s issued a fatwa against me! I’m the luckiest blogger there is. When I get together with all the other current-events bloggers, I tell them how articulate and sane my readers are, and they all narrow their eyes at me and quietly wish I’d just go back to my mommyblogging, already. Then I refuse a second drink because I have to stay sharp for my smart audience! That’s when they confiscate my badge. But I keep coming back to their stupid clubhouse, just to rub it in. What was I talking about, again?
I’d especially like to thank those commenters who shared their personal stories. They were heartwrenching and illuminating. Thank you.
Let’s move on to some less controversial issues, like children having sex with each other in front of other children. Wonderland reader Katherin sent over this jaw-dropping news item, and in doing so heralded the coming of the apocalypse. The details are as follows: a fifth-grade class was left alone in their classroom for fifteen minutes. So some of them decided to have sex. While the others watched.
I don’t know what to say about this. This kind of news makes me want to lie face-down on the floor for a few days until the discomfort overtakes my short-term memory and I forget what sent me down there. What else is there to say? And yet I had to share it with you, so you could experience the horror, too. And I’m sorry. Now I hope we can move on.
Meanwhile, state prosecutors are investigating allegations of corruption and abuse in the Texas juvenile detention system. Hundreds of juvenile offenders in Texas were held months or even years past their original sentences after their terms were extended by facility superintendents. These term extensions were found to be largely without merit, and many of these youths will be released starting this week. (The remainder are having their cases examined by an investigative panel.) Prosecutors already had their hands full with the corruption that is apparently rampant within their juvenile justice system. Hundreds of accusations of physical and sexual abuse perpetrated by facility staff have been pouring in to hotlines; it appears that this abuse was tolerated and even perpetrated by top officials.
Switching subjects now because I’m getting depressed, and as we know this is all about me… let’s talk about mammograms! We’ve all known for a while now that when you turn 40, the responsible thing to do is get a mammogram. Right? Well, the American College of Physicians are rethinking their guidelines, and now the answer seems to be: not necessarily. There are risks associated with the procedure, including exposure to radiation, false positives, and possibly unnecessary treatments for benign lesions. Accordingly, the necessity of getting a mammogram in your forties, the ACP states, is one that needs to be determined on a case-by-case basis. If you’re high-risk, then the procedure is absolutely worth it. But if you have no family history of breast cancer, you might be better off waiting.
And hey, women, remember that study five years ago, about how hormone-replacement therapy was terrible and women should abandon their estrogen immediately if they didn’t want to die? (I’m paraphrasing, you understand.) Seems those risks were overstated, at least for the younger post-menopausal population. A new study suggests that HRT is actually a viable option for women in their fifties, as a short-term treatment for symptoms of menopause.
But don’t dig your estrogen pills out of storage just yet. While the risk of stroke among the younger set appears to be minimal, there’s still an increased chance of breast cancer. Talk with your doctor, I say, sounding not unlike a prescription-drug commercial. And now I’m holding hands with a silver-haired gentleman as we stroll along the beach at sunset.
In other news…
The good news is that now I feel like a better mother:
Woman arrested for forcing her children to panhandle
Thousands of school valedictorians are hyperventilating, right now: Bad year for Ivy League Applicants
Salon handled this one better than I ever could: Judge calls offense ‘natural impulse’

Alice Bradley
About the Author

Alice Bradley

Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.


Alice Bradley was a regular contributor to Alpha Mom, writing about current events as they related to parenting. You can read about her daily life at her personal blog, Finslippy.

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  • Fairly Odd Mother

    April 6, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    Move over, I need to lie down on the floor next to you. Ugh, fifth graders having sex? It’s interesting that the article mentions the kids were 11, 12 and 13. When I was in 5th grade, I was 10. Were some of these kids held back, 2-3 times??? This reminds me of when my (much younger) sister-in-law proudly told me that she was waiting to lose her virginity until she was 15, which was considered ‘really old’. Sigh. That depressed me too.

  • NH

    April 7, 2007 at 12:05 am

    New Orleans, California?
    So MANY issues with the 5th grade sex incident, but one in particular strikes me…why is there a 13-year-old in the 5th grade? Please let us all realize how desperately our education system, especially for the poor, needs help.

  • Melanie

    April 7, 2007 at 12:38 am

    The 5th graders just…. wow. I really don’t think school was like that when I was that age. And, really, that’s a natural impulse. Totally. Women who are 1.
    At least the mammogram and estrogen news is cheerful, and you got to meet a nice silver-haired gentleman and enjoy the sunset. It’s too bad that since you’re over 12, you’re too old for him.

  • ozma

    April 7, 2007 at 9:19 am

    Wow, I’m soooo glad I read this. I’ve totally considered getting my kid to panhandle. Especially when her hair’s really messy (which is often)–she looks so cute and needy then. But, criminal charges await. Good to know, good to know.

  • Karen

    April 8, 2007 at 12:52 pm

    Grade 5? Dear Lord! I was still playing with Barbies. How incredibly scary and nauseating. My oldest is 8, and I read somewhere that the average age for puberty has been reduced to 10?
    Between the impending threats of sex and drugs (which have changed considerably in the last 10 years) on my children, I’ll be rocking in a corner somewhere very soon.
    Our best defenses have got to be staying informed and keeping the lines of communication wide open. Milk and cookies aren’t going to cut it much longer. 🙂
    Oh and Alice, if you go back to only Mommyblogging, I will weep!

  • DN

    April 8, 2007 at 2:40 pm

    I teach 5th grade. I’m not even remotely shocked about the story with the 5th graders having sex.
    Yet my parents think their kids are too young for sex ed.
    My major thought when comparing those two facts (5th graders having sex, parents in denial) is “yeah, this is going to end well.”

  • Jen

    April 8, 2007 at 5:57 pm

    Oh. My. God. Why a 13 year-old? *shudder* Take a second and think back. How many of you would have even known HOW to have sex in the fifth grade? If it wasn’t something my Barbies could do (and let’s face it, Ken was a eunuch), I was equally in the dark. I think I was too busy reading Beverly Cleary books.

  • snplgal

    April 8, 2007 at 10:31 pm

    Very unsettling. My older son is 11.5 and is in 6th grade. I am overjoyed to report that while he is a normal red-blooded heterosexual, he would sooner claw out his own eyeballs than have sex in a classroom full of other students. I may be naive here, but I’m pretty sure he’d be appalled at the idea of having actual intercourse in ANY setting. I do NOT know what a 12 and 13 year old would be doing in a classroom with 5th graders. At my younger son’s school 5th graders are 10 and 11. The jump in maturity, size, physical development, and apparently sexual interest, is a very large one. My son just started middle school this year and while the 6th graders are still little kids, those 8th graders are, well, men and women. Big ones with broad shoulders and boobs and pimples. This makes me wonder how many of them are sexually active.

  • Mom101

    April 8, 2007 at 11:49 pm

    Like the other commenters my first thought was what the heck are 13 year olds doing in 5th grade? Not that it’s any better for an 8th grader to have sex in a classroom in public but it certainly makes me want to vomit about 6% less.

  • Krisco

    April 9, 2007 at 12:03 am

    That is just disturbing. Maybe I will homeschool after all. Oh wait, I would go insane. Damn!
    Seriously. Disturbing.

  • cce

    April 9, 2007 at 8:57 am

    Oh the bit about the hyperventilating valedictorians had me really worked up last week and I ranted a bit about it and then I grew quietly thankful that neither of my two children seem to be overly ambitious or brilliant and therefore would not suffer their rejection from Yale with much more than a shrug. But then you had to go and point out the fifth grade sex act and I began to worry that maybe this is what non-brilliant and less than ambitious children do instead of dissect frogs or drill multiplication tables. I’m worried, I’m very worried.

  • Woman with Kids

    April 9, 2007 at 3:53 pm

    Those kids… I’m speechless. My oldest, 12 going on 20, is terribly interested in all things female/sexual/inappropriate. But seriously? In a classroom full of other kids? It’s just so wrong. And frightening that these things are happening.

  • DN

    April 9, 2007 at 7:11 pm

    13 year old in 5th grade? It means they didn’t start until late and were held back between 3 and 4 times.
    Here’s the other side of the devil’s bargain…if you believe in “social promotion” you’re creating the circumstances that allow children to graduate from high school without being able to read.
    (social promotion- when a child reaches a certain age they should just move on to the next grade regardless of whether or not they’ve mastered the material for the current year)

  • JP

    April 10, 2007 at 11:21 am

    The whole 5th grade sex incident is disturbing on so many levels, but what exactly do the authorities of New Orleans hope to gain by criminally charging those children. Is it just for a lack of anything better to do? Not that they shouldn’t be taught that their behavior was beyond inappropriate- but criminal charges don’t seem like an entirely helpful or appropiate intervention. Those kids obviously need something beyond what they are getting- is arresting them going to get it for them?

  • amy

    April 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm

    Um, somebody please tell me my reading comprehension skills are totally out of wack, because I am pretty sure that I just read that a JUDGE said it’s NORMAL to find 12 year old girls sexually attractive. Wha? Excuse me? Where is the punch line? I didn’t see it!

  • urban-urchin

    April 11, 2007 at 6:53 am

    When I was in college my friend was a studying child pyschology and part of his work was to help out at a local elementary school. He came home one day, pale as a ghost and told us about an 8 year old boy, who had told the gym teacher his ‘wee-wee’ hurt. Turns out he had gonerreha (sp?) from his 17 year old female cousin.
    Even as drunken, lewd college students we were all horrified. Sadly I see things haven’t improved as classroom group sex makes it’s way to elementary school. WTF?
    THe judge? The judge is an A**hole of the most supreme order. GAHHHH!