Sex, Drugs, and Public Health

August 13, 2011


Filed under: Uncategorized — cbmosher @ 6:08 am

As the whole world watches the U.S. deteriorate into “the New Medievalism,” it sees, in addition to the decay in politics, the economy, racism, and religion, a shocking disintegration of our educational system.

What’s this got to do with Public Health?

Let me tell you about Nancy.

She understands the value of a college degree. She’s seen what happens when, like her parents, you don’t have one. And she’s smart enuf to read the future from the present in terms of the prospects for jobs and starting salary. She’s a hard worker: she spends 85% of her time attending classes, working in labs, and studying.

The other 15% she dedicates to selling her body for money.

She hooks up with what are euphemistically called “Tuition Sugar Daddies” on any of several websites offering “mutually beneficial arrangements.” Payday comes promptly. She pays down her college debts, and returns to the library.

This is not some isolated phenomenon. One such website alone reports having nearly 180,000 college girls enrolled, with their numbers growing rapidly over the past year. Studies conducted as surveys report an increased percentage of college girls or recent graduates who state they are willing to (or already have) engage in sex for money within the “Sugar Daddy – Sugar Baby” context.

Interviews reveal that the cost of education and the need to take out loans is a major force driving this phenomenon.

The Public Health implications go beyond concerns about Sexually Transmitted Diseases and AIDS. There is a potential for violence – a potential which must, of course, be dismissed or belittled to go forward. To quote one recent grad paying off her loans, “barring rape and death, what’s the worst thing that could happen to me?”

And that leads to another Public Health concern: the need to see yourself differently in the “Sugar Baby” role from the “student” or “recent graduate” role. There’s a psychological stress created by this episodic schizophrenia which can well have adverse effects on one’s mental health.

But the more global Public Health concern about Prosta-tuition is what it portends for the future of our society. If some people must go to such anti-social extremes to afford an education, there are surely many more who simply can’t afford education at all. As Public Health physicians, we see our entire community as our “patient.” And the health of a society is definitely related to its educational level. Less educated cohorts of community have lower income, higher infant mortality rates, higher rates of chronic disease, and shorter life expectancy.

A society that doesn’t value the education of its young adults enuf to make it available to everyone whose brains can use it, but only to those whose parents are sufficiently wealthy to pay for it or to those desperate enuf to make a compromise as extreme as Prosta-tuition to pay for it, is dooming its future.

It’s our Priorities, Stupid.

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