Oral Sex Story

Emerald Ridge High School’s student newspaper, the JagWire, recently published a set of featured articles centering on oral sex, and now the newspaper is under fire. Having read the four pages of material, I feel the students attempted to shed light on a topic, a potentially life-threatening topic, which no one else wanted to mention. A journalist’s job is to initiate conversation and to bring to light issues often left in the dark. The JagWire writers did just this.

One article detailed how more than 1/3 of the students at Emerald Ridge have engaged in oral sex activities. This information came from a survey of more than 600 students, which leads me to believe that more than the 34% who admitted their activities may have also engaged in these acts since students are often known to hide their behaviors even in anonymity.

This article also noted that the sexual education classes provided do not adequately explain, and often do not mention, oral sex and how to protect oneself when engaged in this intimate act. Students seemed to indicate that oral sex did not count as sex in general; if intercourse did not occur, then the students did not count it as sex (possibly not even as sexual contact). The students surveyed additionally did not seem to connect sexually transmitted diseases with oral sex, a dangerous disconnection in my mind.

Another article explained the psychological effects of sexual activity, specifically oral sex, on the individuals involved. Following this article was one detailing the physiological effects occurring during sexual activity. The pervasiveness of sex on television is mentioned, noting that 64% of television programs contain sexual content of one type or another. Additionally, two students composed a “yes” and “no” counterpoint piece arguing whether oral sex should or should not be a part of a student’s relationship. The student reporters obviously conducted quite a bit of research and attempted to use scientific and statistical data to support their articles.

However, my suspicion is that all of this would have probably received less attention had not specific quotations from identified students been used. Students, mentioned by name, admitted their engagement in these activities, which puts a face to the stories. The stories are not about anonymous statistics and nameless numbers. Readers can literally point out a small number of students who admit their activities. Although the reporters obtained consent and tried to ensure only students 18 years of age were identified, I would venture a guess that parents and community members don’t feel comfortable seeing their “innocent” children’s faces attached to admissions.

I remember reading a statistic a few years ago stating that heterosexual women between 16 and 35 were the most at-risk group for contracting AIDS and other STDs, specifically because of oral sex. Not associating the diseases with these acts seems highly alarming to me.

At my high school this is also an issue and one which seems to be swept under the rug, dismissed as indecent to discuss. Still, students are engaging in these activities and often do not understand the possible ramifications.

I applaud the JagWire for its efforts and intentions, and I hope that the administration, school board, and community do not overreact and place heavy sanctions or restrictions on their abilities to report on the news and issues in their school. Their intent was valiant. The JagWire is a nationally recognized student newspaper, and I look forward to seeing these students continue their award-winning work unimpeded.

9 thoughts on “Oral Sex Story

  1. Betty

    I agree that kids need to know the real risks involved. It always amazes me how some adults feel that if serious issues are ignored, they don’t really exist.

  2. mrschili

    Why does “knowledge is power” seem to relate to everything BUT sex?

    My 9 and 11-year-olds know more about sex than I did at their ages (when I was thrown a book and essentially told to figure it out for myself). I WANT my girls to know everything they can, and I want to be the one to teach them. It’s a huge part of my responsibility as a parent, and it’s one that I take very, very seriously.

  3. Jim Van Pelt

    It’s funny you should post this. A good friend of mine teaches at Auburn High, a school not to far away, evidently, and we were talking about this story. He is the adviser for their paper, and I was the adviser for my high school’s paper for the last eleven years.

    One of the toughest problems with running an article about any real world subject in a high school paper (sex, drinking, death, drugs, violence, religion, discrimination, etc.)is that there is a sizable group of community members, including many teachers and administrators, who want to deny the issue exists. Last year we found that over 70% of our seniors admitted to being sexually active (not virgin), yet our very responsible coverage of the issue (where we did not name names in any of the quotes) still provoked a deep negative response. The objectors did not disagree with our facts or the extent of the problem, but they didn’t want the school paper to write about it.

    I quit advising the paper this year partly because I grew tired of continuously defending students’ first amendment rights to other educators who should know better.

    By the way, I’m in the neighborhood (sort of), this weekend. I’m at a writers’ retreat at Lake Quinalt.

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  7. triplec97

    I am the current Co-Editor-in-Chief of JagWire. The effects of this 2008 issue have not only damaged our program, but the entire school district. Every form of media: newspaper, yearbook, plays, assemblies, etc. are now under prior review and censorship. Last year we covered “Porn” and had to remove many parts of our articles in order to have the paper printed. Our cover photo was censored and we had to end up just using the words “Porn” on the cover. We continue to try and fight for our rights back, but hope seems lost.


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