I’ll tell you what. Sometimes humanity really does baffle me. Recently, I read that there is actually a law going into effect in California called the “eraser law” in which a minor will be able to completely erase their online history.
Now to be fair (although I’m not sure if “fair” is the appropriate word), the basis for this law is so that people who may want to run for politics (or the like) will not have to worry about their past pubescent adolescence coming back to haunt them. And honestly, as someone who has some naked pics of her somewhere out in the world circa 1995 that I took with some friends out on a farm that no one knows where the negatives are (sigh), I get why people would breathe a big sigh of relief at this kind of news.
But also, as someone who used to be a teen pregnancy director for a non-profit, reading about the eraser law caused me to think about how I felt when Plan B was made available to people under 18 (in other words, children) without their parent’s permission. Will it help to stop a baby? Perhaps (although time will tell what other repercussions there will be on a growing body by constantly putting those kinds of drugs into its system). But popping a pill is not going to take away the reason why a young girl was swallowing it in the first place. The issue of her sexual choices still needs to be something that is addressed and preferably with her parents (first).
The same applies for the eraser law. Just because a teenager can have their past erased, does that get to the root of why they’re even taking nudie shots and doing who knows what else via the internet? And shoot, all of us have been teenagers before. Once minors hear about this, all they’ll think is “Awesome! I can do whatever I want online and just…delete it.”
If you’re a minor reading this, trust me. I was a freshman in college right as the internet became all the rage. You don’t need to be online for memories of dumb decisions to come back to bite you in the butt. And if you’re a parent reading this, you should definitely be uncomfortable about the fact that your teen can be doing things that you have absolutely no clue about; things that can be removed without a trace.
It really does sadden me that we’re so focused on how to make life “easier” as an adult that there are not nearly enough of us who are coming from the mindset of “If we took better care of our teens now, there’s a greater chance that they’ll grow up to be healthier adults as a direct result.” That it’s not about “erasing” what they do but actually making the time to address it.
If you just sit and think about your own adolescence, I’m sure you can come up with enough memories that will compell you to sit down with your teen (or niece or nephew or someone who you mentor) and have a few talks with them. You know what they say, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” And embarrassment. And heartache. And profound regret.
No matter what law goes into effect, you can’t “erase away” how a poor choice can affect your mind or your spirit. Make sure they know that. Just as soon as possible. Preferably before the next time that they get on the internet.