February 26, 2018

Middle School Cougars

By Julie Samrick


It’s been nearly 20 years since the Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal made “oral sex” a household term; young kids went from skipping that phase of sex altogether to offering it or receiving it even before a first kiss on the lips.


According to The New York Times, “Oral sex is very much part of the teenage sexual repertory. More than half of all teenagers aged 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex – including nearly a quarter of those who have never had intercourse.”


Then shows like Sex and the City came along in the late 1990s, which, for the first time, portrayed normal, likable adult women as sexual aggressors and the new status quo, female Lotharios bucking convention and jumping into bed with anyone of the opposite gender meeting their fancy.


That mentality has trickled down to the young girls who are now coming of age, and we’re currently seeing it played out in middle schools and high schools across America, as the new trend for high school girls is to go after middle school aged boys, even calling themselves “cougars.”  Gee I wonder where they get that term for themselves?


 For any other generation, going after a younger boy would be mortifying.  My birthday is in January and I remember once having a crush on a boy who had a summer birthday.  Our 7-month age difference quickly quelled any crush I had on him!  


Talking with parents who are currently experiencing this new phenomenon, it’s evident that many 15 and 16-year-old girls think it’s cool to practice with younger guys, to feel that hero worship of a younger boy panting for them… an easy catch. They don’t have to worry about being rejected.  Perhaps they are even shielding themselves from the more aggressive actions of older boys. With younger males, high school girls can be the all powerful, female sexual aggressor that is heralded in our culture, or at least is on the surface.  So, I guess it all makes sense that as a culture we have come to this, yet it is still awfully sad. 


I think it will be easier to explain to my two young daughters someday why these sexual messages our culture is sending to young people will set them up for nothing but trouble and heartbreak.


But what do we tell our boys?  How do we equip them for these “cougars’” advances?  We know that sex education is most meaningful when taught at home, and that we need to talk with our kids not just about the biology of sex, but its moral implications too, especially before they hear about it in a mocking or degrading way from their peers. 


I began to give information to my older son specifically about the topic of forward girls when he was in 2nd grade, two years ago.  He came home from school one day and was smiling as he told me about some boys with older brothers who said they’d dreamed about two girls wearing “bitinis” in a shower together. I could tell he had no idea what he was talking about, but he was smiling, as though he knew it were a tantalizing topic. 


I could’ve easily moved past the discomfort of the conversation, but I took him aside and said, “Some day a girl may say you should watch her show off in a bikini (which is a 2-piece bathing suit), but if you aren’t married to her you can figure she is asking lots of other boys to watch her too.”  He was awestruck, but he got it.


These conversations can be modified to any age, and built on over the years, but when kids come to us with topics that are ripe for lessons, don’t dismiss them.  Start talking calmly with your kids, with your values built in, right from the beginning and they will have the tools needed to deal with any issue that may otherwise catch them off-guard in the future.




  1. Long before Bill & Monica, there were stories of oral sex in the bathrooms of middle or high schools – I don’t remember which, just that I heard about it happening at a parochial school. Don’t blame Monica Lewinsky, though of course that episode made it hard for any child to avoid knowing about that sort of sex….

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