Don’t Let Stupidity Kill Your Kids

25 04 2008

Having suitably offended everyone with his remarks about the elephant trampling and those crazy Hindus (he’s offended Christians and Muslims already, why not Hindus?) today your lovable Mr President returns to give more serious commentary on a news story that grabbed his interest this morning.

Quite frankly he’s surprised there’s as much controversy over this matter as there is. The choice seems rather straightforward, would you want your daughter to get cancer or not? The figures are pretty damning. HPV is present in 99.7% of cervical cancer cases. This isn’t like CO2 levels and global warming, this isn’t like smoking and lung cancer, this is almost perfect 1:1 correlation; HPV does cause cancer. The vaccine will be 99% effective against HPV. Do the maths and it’s a complete no-brainer.

So why 20% of UK parents would opt not to let their daughter be vaccinated is incredibly baffling, and seems idiotic in the extreme. Inoculation against a known killer just seems perfectly sensible and claims that it’s an invitation to promiscuity are not only wrong, they’re potentially dangerous if they’re putting parents off the jab. It almost certainly will save their daughter’s life, and will definitely prevent one siginificant threat to it.

The same arguments were made about contraception yet, as evidenced by the ever-increasing teenage pregnancy rate, those engaging in underage sex rarely use proper protection. This is worrying, of course, but proof that making contraception available to teenagers has made no impact on their sexual activity. Incidentally condoms are not particularly effective against HPV, making the vaccine even more essential.

Nor is that the only example. Very similar arguments were also made when abortion was first legalised but since then there has been no evidence of any correlation between abortion and promiscuity. In fact the rising number of teenage mothers suggests that abortion isn’t something pregnant teenagers particularly concern themselves with.

These sorts of myths have been around for a long time, and the blame lays squarely at Mr President’s favourite people, the churches. His issue isn’t with religion, per se, he thinks it’s a good thing, and personally finds some of the Christian values like forgiveness to be excellent morals to live one’s life by. His only problem comes when people abuse religion to scare people into submission. Faith comes from within.

Surely cervical cancer is no more of a deterrent than HIV (both are pretty deadly), yet teenagers are still having unprotected sex, so why would a lessened risk of cancer encourage them in any way? Perhaps it’s time we faced up to some (perhaps unpalatable for some parents) facts. Teenagers have sex for the same reason adults do, because they want to. It’s an evolutionary drive programmed in all of us.

Inoculation against HPV won’t encourage them. It will, however, save lives. Be smart.


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3 responses

28 04 2008
Andy D

I feel blessed to have tackled this topic ahead of the President! I feel certain I didn’t beat you to the punch, but that you simply decided to let me test the air with it before you commented with your commanding presence. Now enough with the compliments and on to a part of this discussion you may not have considered:

As of now, there is a lot about the HPV shot that is not known. For example, how long is it effective? Are any booster shots required? Are there any long term side effects? Some studies show it is very effective in the first two years after the shot, but no a lot is known about it after that.

I believe the shot will probably turn out to be a good idea. However, I believe that the decision to get the shot should be in the hands of the parents before the girl turns 18. In the U.S., states are debating making it a requirement for public school. I believe this is outside the realm of what the state should be allowed to require.

28 04 2008
Mr President

Oh you definitely did beat me to the punch but I think that’s because it became an issue on your side of the pond before it has become one on this side. The drive to have schoolgirls vaccinated has been going on for a couple of months over there, but it’s still fresh news over here.

Perhaps it’s because Merck, the company that made the vaccine, is a US company, but either way, I’m happy to give you credit for covering the topic first, although I do think we took slightly different angles. Yours was more political (hardly a surprise) and mine was more sociological.

Whilst I’m not convinced the decision should be in the hands of government, and certainly don’t think it’s an issue for schools, I do believe that the decision must belong to the girl herself. I notice you had the same debate in your comments section and I’m afraid that whilst I do see where you’re coming from, I have to disagree.

In theory I do agree that an 11 or 12 year old isn’t mature enough to make the decision, but the problem is that they sadly are making the equally important decision to be sexually active. So long as they are, the only pragmatic course of action is to allow them to decide for themselves issues relating to STIs, contraception etc. The reasons are twofold and listed in more detail in your comments section.

30 05 2008
Innocence Lost « Textual Relations

[…] 30 05 2008 Mr President is baffled by the way parental outrage is on the increase. They seem hellbent on pretending they live in 1950’s suburbia. The irony […]

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