Landsburg On Teenage Sex

I was going to post this before Patri's response to his critics about the benefits of teenage sex, but it is still germane to the discussion. In economist Steven Landsburg's Fair Play, his book which explores economics through parenting and morals through the lessons we teach our children, he has this to say about sex:

In first grade, Cayley (n.b. his daughter) developed a concentrated interest in continental drift. I'm not sure where this interest came from, but she acquired a lot of books about it and liked to have them read to her. While reading one night, I paused to reinforce my standard point about the importace of individual ideas. "You know," I said, "When I was a kid, nobody knew about this stuff. People just figured it out fairly recently." This grabbed her interest. "How recently?" she wanted to know. "Well...quite recently." "Was it after I was born?" "Well, no, it was before you were born...but not very long before." "Was it before you and mom were married?" "Ummm...I think so...yes." "Was it when you were a teenager?" "I'm pretty sure it was after I was a teenager." Now she went into deep thought and finally asked a clarifying question. "It was after you were a teenager but before you were married?" "Yes," I said. "Well then," she asked, "was it when you were having sex?"

I'm not sure what six-year-old Caylet thought sex was. I asked her what it meant and her voice dripped with disdain and she said "I can't believe you don't know what sex is," whereupon I let the matter drop. Whatever it is, she was convinced it fits into a window between teenagerhood and marriage. I hope that in a life filled with gusto, she figures out how to expand that window - in both directions (empahsis added).

Here we have, in a book basically written as advice to his daughter, a father encouraging her to have sex as a teenager if she desires. That's pretty bold. Further he adds:

Next year, Cayley will be admonished that adolescent sex is a bad thing, but she will also be trained in how to avoid its consequences by practicing "safe sex." She is also admonished that adolescent crime is a bad thing, but her school does not offer training in "safe crime..." She will be offered no explanation for the discrepency.

There must be some reason why schools teach safe sex but not safe crime. Perhaps they think that students are more likely to be sexually active than criminally active. Or perhaps they really believe - despite what they tell the students - that unlike crime, sex isn't always such a bad idea. If that's what they beleive, I wish they'd be honest about it instead of trying to scare my daughter half to death.

This is pretty similar to what Patri says below. Given my regard for Landsburg, I find this evidence that Patri is a good economist, and will be a good parent.

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