Irresponsible to glamorize teen sex

Question: 
 
I do appreciate your response and that you responded so quickly. However, I must repectfully disagree with the notion that just because something is true to life makes it also appropriate for young readers. I feel that is is irresponsible to glamorize teen sex in a society where this has caused so many problems for young people. Books such as yours can be very influential as kids so often believe and mimic what they read.
 
Would you write a story geared towards middle schoolers about Charles Manson just because it was true to life if you thought it could be influential in making then follow the same path? Would you write about suicide in this manner? To me writing about teen sex is similar in that you potentially influence young girls to rob themselves of their innocence, do whatever feels right and be able to sluff off the consequences as easily as closing the book.
 
I am sure I cannot convince you of the point, and I do not know if you are a parent or not, but I can tell you that as a concerned father in today’s society it is very difficult to monitor what your children see and books such as yours do not help in trying to bring up girls to regard purity as something sacred and sexual promiscuity as immoral. I hope you will consider this in your future books.
 
Phyllis replied:
 
I appreciate your writing to me again, but I think we’re comparing apples and oranges here, because there is nothing remotely healthy about invading a home and murdering people, whereas I don’t look at sexuality in that way.  Our approaches toward teenage literature are radically different, in that you look at teen sexuality as  pure vs impure and innocence  vs  guilty, while I took at teen sexual urges as a natural part of growing up, and I believe that the best way to approach the subject with teenagers is to accept how they feel and write about the various ways of dealing with these sexual feelings.  Having taken part as an adult in a church-sponsored sex education course taught in the church, I feel strongly that teenagers should be encouraged to accept their sexual feelings and deal with them appropriately–that masturbation, for example, provides a healthy release, that mutual masturbation between a teenage couple is also safer than intercourse, and that sexual intercourse between a teen couple does not always end in pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease, but it does have risks, and a young couple should be aware of these risks and feel a responsibility toward each other if they choose this option.  Some teenagers choose abstinence, and this is perfectly acceptable, and an individual decision.  What I try to avoid is the good/bad stereotype–that sexual relations between teenagers is always going to end up badly, that those who engage in it are sinful people, etc.  Our children know from their own experience that there are good students with a good plan for their lives who have had sex without bad consequences.  And this is what I mean about being truthful.  For me, both as a writer and as a parent, I feel obligated to stress that sexual urges are natural and healthy and that there are wise ways of dealing with them and not-so-wise.  If you read my Alice books, you will find that some of the characters make healthy choices, some do not; and just as in life, some face difficult consequences, others do not.  I think the best way to insure that young people listen to us is to tell the truth.
 

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