Teenagers can handle a lot. They have to: Adolescence is a crucial point in life where you are forced for the first time to deal with major issues and make important decisions.
But many parents and administrators want their children's and students' environments to be as squeaky clean as possible in order to create an atmosphere with the most positive influences.
That is understandable but it can lead to the banning of certain plays or movies at school.
While that may seem like a safer route, it could actually mean taking a greater risk.
Ignoring issues and problems such as alcoholism, abortion, homosexuality, drug abuse, premarital sex and violence is no answer. They are tough topics, but since when is life not tough?
In order to arm teenagers with knowledge to make the best possible decisions, these issues must be addressed.
Obscene or vulgar material should never be shown or allowed in a school, but is a play that talks about the implications of rape vulgar? Is a movie that has (foul) language in it and depicts horrific violence in Africa obscene? Where do we draw the line?
"As long as it is a part of society and it is something that affects people, it should be allowed for teens to see and form opinions on,'' said Justina Everhart, a 17-year-old junior at Greenbrier High School. "Movies and plays need to be respectful and tasteful, but they also need to reflect real life."
Movies and plays can spark dialogues between students and other students, between students and teachers, and most importantly, students and parents.
Last week, I attended a one-act play competition. One play included a rape scene that was pivotal to the show.
Whether or not people thought it was appropriate for teenagers, the thing that theater is supposed to do happened: people were discussing the message and moral of the story. We were discussing the motivations behind the crime and the horrors that stemmed from it.
I wanted to know what my friends thought. We talked with the chaperones on the trip. I even went home and recited the plot line to my parents, which ignited a conversation.
All of this discussion can only be a good thing for teenagers. We need to have a chance to form opinions by the time these 'important issues' come our way.
Michael Ryan is a junior at Greenbrier High School