Dad's justice' helps fight teen sex

September 11, 1996|By GREGORY KANE

Let's give three cheers for the latest American hero: Sgt. John Jerkins of the Stillwater (Okla.) Police Department.

You've never heard of him, have you? Jerkins' heroism was not in his chosen line of work. He busted no bad guys, delivered no babies nor rescued anyone from a burning building. In fact, what Jerkins did left him with a demotion to patrolman and a cut in pay. That makes his heroism all the more significant.

Eight months ago, Jerkins rose from his sleep about 1 a.m. to take his nephew to the bathroom, according to a wire story by Associated Press reporter Kelly Kurt. Jerkins turned on the living room light and noticed his 17-year-old daughter having sex with her boyfriend on the couch.

"He [Jerkins] snapped," reporter Kurt wrote, "and slapped the young man in the face."

"Snapped" is not quite the verb we want here. Jerkins did what all too many fathers today don't do. He reacted appropriately and, given the circumstances, with considerable restraint against the brash punk who had the nerve to try to make time with his daughter in his own house. Had I been in Jerkins' place, I'd have slapped the boy so hard his eyes would have spun around to the back of his head. And that would have been just for starters. I'd have gone on and tried to remove what I'm sure was the kid's favorite bodily appendage.

Jerkins is currently engaged in a legal battle to get his rank and pay back, but he obviously sees his plight in much larger terms.

"This isn't just about me," Jerkins was quoted as saying. "It's about parents and what their duties and responsibilities are and what they can legally do in their own home."

Good, old-fashioned fatherly outrage -- that paternal instinct that says fathers should protect and defend the honor of their daughters -- is on the wane in America. Teen-age pregnancies are skyrocketing. They will continue to do so, unless we see more outraged dads willing to become a John Jerkins. Or, for that matter, a Jerry Ronald Ellis.

You've never heard of Ellis either, heh? He's a Roxboro, N.C., man who learned that some horny 18-year-old was having sex with his 14-year-old stepdaughter. According to an Associated Press story from August of 1995:

"Ellis and his wife grabbed [the man] in the parking lot of Duke Medical Center in Durham and forced him into a car where he was beaten. . . . [The man] told police they [Ellis and wife] threatened 'his dismemberment in his private area.' "

Ellis felt no remorse for his actions.

"I explain it [as] simple daddy's justice," he said. "My baby ain't but 14. He's 18. He should have never had sex with my baby if he didn't want to pay the price."

A large dose of "daddy's justice" would go a long way toward healing a nation afflicted with the scourge of teen pregnancy. Ellis used a key phrase in justifying his defense of his stepdaughter's honor: Pay the price. If we really want to stop teen pregnancy, we have to make the lowlifes who are making girls pregnant pay the price. But I doubt that we are willing.

A few months back I was a panelist at a conference with a theme of "Keeping Men Involved." I told the audience that men in their 20s who get teen-age girls -- some as young as 13 and 14 -- pregnant should have their rear ends caned publicly. They should have their pants and underwear dropped, exposing their sorry hineys to the world, and have their butts worn to a frazzle. A few in the audience nodded in agreement, but most just looked at me as though I'd beamed down from the planet Wacko.

We face an uphill fight to counter the liberal dogma that says preventing teen sex is impossible. It's unrealistic to ask teens to abstain from sex, the liberal dogma goes, because they are going to engage in it anyway. Teens, according to this line of thinking, are simply incapable of reason and self-restraint in sexual matters.

Assuming this is true, I would suggest that teens don't restrain themselves because there aren't enough John Jerkinses and Jerry Ronald Ellises around willing to make guys pay the price. You'd be surprised how much of a deterrent a foot wedged snugly and deeply up the hindquarters can be.

It is with shame and contrition that I confess it is my generation, with its doctrine of free love, that has helped spawn the current teen pregnancy crisis. We should all give a collective thanks to John Jerkins and Jerry Ronald Ellis for reminding us that nothing is free.

Gregory P. Kane's column appears on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Pub Date: 9/11/96

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