of "EXPERT" ADVICE on CHILDREARING
By Beverly Eakman
November 12, 2005
now, most people know about the 17-year-old Virginia Commonwealth
University freshman, Taylor Marie Behl, whose decomposed body was found
October 5th in a ravine on a farm owned by one of the primary suspect’s
former girlfriends. The funeral took place October 14th. The suspect,
38-year-old Benjamin Fawley, confessed while under arrest on unrelated
child pornography and firearms possession charges. He told police that
Taylor Behl died accidentally during their sexual encounter and that he
panicked, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. The couple’s
relationship had been ongoing for an undisclosed length of time.
victim’s mother, Janet Pelasara, commanded national attention with her
smiling, upbeat demeanor during the search for her daughter, missing
since September, and only in the aftermath of the funeral did she
finally lash out against “the sick subhuman that murdered my beautiful
daughter.” She said she does not believe Fawley’s claim of “accidental”
death (although, given the popular forms of “kinky sex,” who knows?) and
has called for the death penalty should he, or anyone else, be convicted
of the crime.
Well, who can blame her?
there is a more troubling aspect of this case, whether or not Miss
Behl’s autopsy points to an accidental or deliberate act — the elephant
in the living room nobody wants to talk about.
Specifically, what was a 17-year-old minor female doing consorting alone
with a 38-year-old male, much less having a sexual relationship with
him? And why was a 38-year-old man interested in this 17-year-old girl?
far, none of her friends are talking, publicly at least, about any of
her earlier dating relationships. No one has offered anything that is in
any way negative about Miss Behl. Everything points to a normal,
friendly, cheerful teenager who, according to her mother, had sex with
Fawley “once out of curiosity,” but then apparently changed her mind
about a further relationship. From news accounts, one can assume she had
had sexual relationships with others fellows before this incident.
Unfortunately, this is the kind of result we get when children are
tasked early on with “making their own decisions” and “discovering their
own values” — things the child experts – psychologists — have been
trying to “sell” to parents and teachers for decades. And they succeeded
— through parents’ magazines, childrearing texts and university
departments of teacher preparation.
young teacher in the late 1960s, on into the 70s and early 80s, I saw
history made. I was there when child experts told parents and
teachers to "take the screws off" and let toddlers express themselves. I
was there when psychologists admonished adults to stop "snooping"
in kids' belongings and give them some "space." I was there when
educational psychologists scrapped the dress codes, and advised
educators and parents to be children’s pals instead of their superiors.
I was there when school psychologists and counselors started
advising adults to stop lecturing and moralizing, because kids wouldn't
listen anyway. I was there when schools started sponsoring dances
and dating for pre-pubescent youngsters — crushing tender egos and
making peer pressure the end-all that it finally became.
noticed now that the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is
sponsoring TV ads telling parents that they "have more influence than
they think,” that they are the "anti-drug." A little late for that!
Where was the ONDCP in the mid-’80s, when all we heard was that
"children have rights" — rights to sexual information and paraphernalia,
rights to access porn on the Internet, rights to sue their parents for
when the fire hit the fan at Little, CO; Paducah, KY; and Santee, CA —
guess what? It was parents who got blamed for not doing all those things
the “experts” had been lobbying against for some 40 years. By
obliterating the lines between right and wrong and advising kids to
discover their own values, youngsters like Taylor Behl are now
dealing with horrific dangers never previously experienced, not even in
the bad old days when students had to stoke the fire to heat up the
classroom. Yet experts continue to call early sexual experimentation
“normal” — and the resulting atrocities “mental health issues” instead
of moral issues.
logic goes like this: Guilt over supposed "sins" produces neurosis, as
opposed to being a civilizing influence. Therefore, redefining
"morality" will produce happier, guilt-free, and mentally healthy
people. Guilt supposedly begins when youngsters feel forced to take
responsibility for things beyond their control.
Eventually, of course, all behaviors have been deemed outside of
individual control. If one’s genes and hormones predispose them to
behave a certain way, then spiritual awareness is delusional;
content with early, graphic sexual training, child experts now are hot
to push the rest of their agenda in schools, including exposure to
homosexuality, sodomy, oral sex and even self-labeling.
really do not blame Taylor Behl’s mother, Janet Pelasara, for what
happened to her daughter. She is a Baby Boomer, after all. She followed
the parenting advice doled out stridently and often to her age-group.
an earlier generation would have recognized that Taylor Behl was not
ready for college, that she needed a lot of oversight and guidance. She
clearly lacked the maturity and judgment to be on her own.
Today’s parents mistake secondary sex characteristics for emotional
maturity. The two do not necessarily go together.
remember my own high school and college freshman experience. Neither was
pleasant. In high school, I was not permitted to attend mixed-sex
parties unless they were well-chaperoned, or to car date until I was 16
— and even then, not until my parents had met the fellow. I remember my
mother complaining bitterly that even at the private school where I was
enrolled, some parents in the 1950s and 60s would wait for folks like
mine to put their foot down on unchaperoned events like beach parties
before stepping up to the plate and saying “no” themselves.
17-year-old college freshman, I started going out with a 25-year-old
part-time student living at a nearby air force base. I was flattered,
because he was handsome and treated me like an adult — and because he
“rescued” me from a truly awful blind date at a college dance. When my
parents met him, however, they put a stop to our romance — not because
the fellow actually did anything particularly offensive or was unkempt
or rude, but simply because he seemed too old for me, and something
seemed “off.” They nipped our dating in the bud, certainly before it
became anything even close to sexual. But they were extremely
authoritarian about it and, I thought at the time, downright insulting.
hated them for being what would be called “over-protective” and
“paternalistic” today. But they were right. The fellow turned out to be
frequenting strip clubs in his spare time. Had I married him (which we
had discussed), it would not have been a year before I would have
discovered that I “wasn’t enough” for him. My parents knew me well
enough to know I was insecure and that I found it difficult to “hurt”
someone by ending a even a friendship, much less a romance. So they did
the hardest thing they ever had to do; they refused ever to let me see
him again, at the threat of pulling me out of college. They checked on
my whereabouts (“stalking?”) from 300 miles away.
Today, I have been married 37 years — to someone else. I’ve never had to
worry about my core values being different from my husband’s, or worse,
getting some sexually transmitted disease from a philandering mate —
thanks to my parents’ intervention some 40 years ago. For sure, they had
better things to do with their time than deal with my indignation.
Today, it’s all the rage to make fun of anyone who applauds the values
of the 1940s and 50s, or endorses monogamy within a marital context, or
engages in “paternalism.” But Taylor Behl’s death — and the trauma of
hundreds of young people like her — should stand as a lesson to us all.
Before psychiatrists were considered childrearing experts, there were
parents who took the difficult road. They risked alienating their
children out of love for them, even if it meant scrutinizing the
friendships, clothing and activities of their youngsters. Today, between
Internet stalkers, mainstreamed pornography, vulgar “music” lyrics and
“sexploitive” school curricula — not to mention virulent forms of the
old sexually transmitted diseases — such oversight is more important