The Sex Education of Justin Bieber

Justin Bieber serves as an allegory for the way we treat American teens: leading them to temptation, unprotected and unprepared, and expecting more of them than we do of ourselves.
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Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the allegations that Justin Bieber sired a baby boy after 30-seconds of backstage bathroom sex with a plucked from the crowd concert-goer are true. Many of the details of the story ring true -- from the backstage girl-herding for Justin's selection to the frenzied quickie and then post-coital dissing by the heartthrob. In fact, it sounds routine.

If the allegations in a lawsuit filed by the mother are true, Justin would be emblematic of a very common, and life-altering, misstep made by many of his peers. He would become the trend follower not the setter; the United States suffers the highest teen pregnancy rates than any other industrialized nation, and by a lot. We have twice the rate of teen births as England, and they came in second. Our teenagers are woefully unprepared for the sex lives they are choosing to lead.

It's important to try to understand this alleged scenario from Bieber's perspective. He was a (at the time) 16 year-old boy who was, safe to say, under the influence of powerful hormones. He's also the most lusted after teen in history. He physically transfixes fans including the 20,000 he had appeared before the night of the supposed encounter and who spent the length of the concert shrieking and crying his name. He travels in an entourage that serves as his human shield against the greatest danger to his safety: teen girl lust. For him, there's always the looming and very real threat of being crushed by a stampede of Bieberishly-feverishly-crazed girls.

His own sexuality is unfolding within this surreal set of circumstances. And yet, his decision, or lack of decision, is typical of so many young men his age, even those without his immense celebrity. Young men, even those who want to use condoms, can't always pull off the trick. They're embarrassed or incompetent, and they don't have an adult to turn to. With Bieber it's even more complicated. Justin can't buy condoms for himself without it becoming international news. And who on his staff would want to buy him condoms, and thus seem to sanction his casual underage sexual encounters?

In reproduction, the rules of celebrity don't apply. If he was having unprotected sex with Belieber-aged young women, there's an 86% likelihood he's going to get someone pregnant. Teens, like Bieber, don't realize they are far more fertile and at much greater risk of pregnancy than any other demographic. Three in ten girls in the US get pregnant at least once before the age of 20 and 60% of pregnancies to women age 20-24 are unplanned.

Someone needs to talk with Justin about condoms. Not only for birth control, there's sexually transmitted disease, too. He can't be helped by abstinence and prayer alone, as is true with most American teens. America needs to prioritize sex education and not just a run-of -the mill review of contraceptive methods and risks. And while there may not be a professional out there capable of preparing Justin for the level of temptation and the volume of sexual propositions that await him personally, it would be good to admit and accept that we all will face temptation, indeed it's an American way of life. It's time to stop leaving to chance the consequences of the healthy sex lives we want to lead.

Bieber may already be a teen dad too -- the lawsuit alleges that the baby is three months old -- and, if he is, it will be familiar territory for him. He was the product of an unplanned pregnancy, born to two teenagers and raised by his single mom. He experienced all that typically comes with that script, including extreme poverty. He understands that, while he could not have been raised in a more loving home, teen parenthood is really hard. His parents married but, like most teen parents, soon divorced which is a reality he struggles with to this day.

For Bieber a positive paternity test at age 17 could be a defining moment. Bieber has never shied away from being a role model. He has leveraged his stardom for many causes aimed at protecting his fan-base including a device that disables texting while driving and founded Giving Back Brands which uses all proceeds from his perfume to support causes that enhance the lives and education of children. So why not address an issue that he himself knows the importance of? Why not talk candidly about sexual desire and pregnancy prevention? With 14 million twitter followers, a single informed tweet from Justin could do more for prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases than the morning after pill.

Of course, no one knows for sure yet if the baby is his -- and his lawyers have denounced the lawsuit as defamatory. True or not, Bieber serves as an allegory for the way we treat American teens: leading them to temptation, unprotected and unprepared, and expecting more of them than we do of ourselves.

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