So. Justin Bieber said something stupid with regard to rape and abortion. That’s not surprising. I’m not sure that kid has two brain cells to rub together. What really, really bothers me is the reactions of the adults around me to this, all of which amounts to: He’s 16, who cares what he thinks?
Well, for one thing all of his crazy rabid fans. That’s a huge audience, so asking for some forethought and accountability shouldn’t be too much.
For another, he’s 16. Soon he will be old enough to vote. He’s already old enough to have sex. Why don’t we expect him to be thinking critically about rape and abortion? Why are we so eager to say that what a teenager says doesn’t matter, when it is our job to teach the young ones around us, to give them the building blocks of education, integrity, and moral foundation (and by “moral” I do not necessarily mean “religious”, for those who may be reacting to the more fundamentalist version of the word)?
Why are our expectations so low for 16-year-old boys? They should be absurdly high. They should be high for all the young people around us. Let’s give them something to aspire to, rather than telling them that who they are, what they say, how they act doesn’t matter because they aren’t technically adults yet.
When my brother was 16 he was able to discuss politics, religion, ethics, rape, and abortion as easily as he was able to discuss video games. Why? Because he’s smart, but also because my mother and I had high standards for him. And he met them. My sister was similarly adept at that age.
I guess in many ways this ties into this post, about thinking before you speak. This goes for teenagers as much as it goes for us. The difference is, we—as parents, siblings, friends, relatives—have a responsibility to them as well as to ourselves to teach them these skills and these values. When they say stupid shit for the world to see, readers, that’s on us as much as anybody else.
Time to raise our standards, people. Not toss them out the window.