Angela is ready for school.

She has her books, last night’s homework, some money for lunch, and a box of condoms.

Just another 12-year-old headed out the door for a day of reading, writing and sex.

For Angela, a little sex is just part of a day at school in Washington, DC.

“Ain’t no big thing,” she says. “Everybody’s doin’ it.”

According to recent news reports, students at some Washington schools engage in sexual activity on school property on a regular basis.

One group of elementary students apparently had a full-fledged gang bang while locked, unsupervised, in a room as punishment.

Angela says she’s had sex in the boy’s bathroom, the girl’s bathroom, an empty classroom, the gym locker room and the hallway of her school.

“It’s more fun if you might get caught, but we ain’t gonna get caught. The teachers know what’s going on. They don’t care.”

Actually, Angela did get caught by a teacher, once.

“Yeah, he started rantin’ on us about how much trouble we was in, so I gave him a blow job to shut him up. Course now, I gots to service the dude once a week to keep him quiet.”

She started experimenting with sex at 9, “you know, feeling each other up, jacking somebody off.” By 10, she’d lost her virginity.

“We’re dealing here with one of the most frightening trends I’ve ever seen,” says Roberta Hollingsworth, a child psychiatrist who counsels sexually-active children like Angela. “These kids approach sex the same way we dealt with smoking as kids. It’s something they just have to try.”

Hollingsworth says her caseload of sexual-active children is up 300 percent over the past five years.

“When you have nine-year olds experimenting with sex and 11-year-olds getting pregnant, you’ve got a serious problem on your hands. Yet the schools in Washington are so preoccupied with drugs and weapons they are just ignoring the sexual activity that is going on right under their noses.”

Hollingsworth says the casual attitude towards sex is just part of society’s overall numbness.

“We’ve grown so casual about violence, about what is right and wrong, about what is acceptable and unacceptable that I suppose it shouldn’t surprise anyone that our children now regard sex as just another recreational activity.”

So who’s to blame?

“We all get to share this one,” Hollingsworth says. “The parents, the schools and society in general. Our generation had role models we could look up to. Today’s children don’t have much in the way of role models. Many have parents who are divorced. Their sports stars have drug habits and serious character flaws that are exposed on a daily basis. In Southeast Washington, children live with the daily fear of getting killed before they reach puberty. When you have these kinds of things happening around you, it’s hard to consider anything sacred.”

Angela sees sex as the lesser of all the evils that could be forced on her young life.

“I don’t do drugs, I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. So what’s wrong if I get it on? It ain’t no big thing.”

And, Angela adds, she practices safe sex.

“Nobody does me unless they use a condom. I ain’t gonna catch something because they’s dumb.”

What about pregnancy?

“Can’t happen. I ain’t had my first period yet.”

–Doug Thompson
Washington, DC

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