donor- and vampire- education
so the VVC has been at it again with another public meeting*, with one of the three main topics being donors (“What’s The Donor Thinking”). i got mentioned by name**, makes me feel rather chuffed (i can be incredibly vain, right up there with the best/worst of them). one of the subjects discussed under the topic of donors was donor safety information, what should be readily available to donors so that they don’t get fucked over.
i won’t go any further into the VVC discussion, but the VVC had publicly asked for topic suggestions, and i’d been asked directly for my opinion on the donor topic. at the moment i wasn’t able to come up with anything – sometimes my brain is slow – but here’s an issue which finally got the right triggers to surface.
the (sometimes almost knee-jerk) reaction when an underage (most people with this kind of reaction blithely assume that “underage” = “under 18″) donor speaks up anywhere is that “you can’t donate until you’re 18″ or “it’s illegal”. i can understand the origins of that reaction, it is easy to say, it covers the speaker’s legal ass***, and solves the problem (at least for the speaker). of course not everybody reacts that way, but it is common enough that
i certainly agree that people shouldn’t be donating before they reach a certain level of maturity, i’d actually say that 18 is rather young to become a donor. but what i and other old farts like me (full disclosure, i’m currently 35) think and what the law says matters preciously little to the underage vampires and donors. because the vamps will still need to feed, and will still seek donors, and the self-motivated donors will still be seeking vamps to donate to. they will feed, and they will donate, and they won’t give a flying fuck about what us old folks think of it.
telling the kids that they can’t donate or can’t feed doesn’t work. it’s just like telling the kids that they can’t have sex until they’re 18 (and thank Eris for living in a country where the legal age is 16, 14 if the age difference is less than 3 years). abstinence based sex-education doesn’t work. it does not keep the kids safe. it does not raise the average age at which kids start having sex, and importantly, it increases the amount of both teen-age pregnancies and STDs. the whole concept of abstinence-based sex-ed is a contradiction in terms: education means learning about something, not being told “don’t do it”.
abstinence-based donor-education (or vampire-education) is going to misfire just as badly as abstinence-based sex-ed. the kids will still feed, they will still donate, they will still cut each other in dangerous ways, they will still catch diseases from each other. they will also be prey to abuse, as they won’t have reliable adults to speak to (remember, you just told them to sod off, i doubt they’re going to listen to you), so any random twenty-year-old claiming to be an elder can lead them wherever they want.
what we need is actual vampire/donor-ed. this needs to be easily available within the community. it needs to be simple and understandable. we need to teach the kids where it is safe to cut, and how – preferably with graphics. telling them to go read some anatomy book which they can only actually find in a library once they start college is not useful. we need to teach them about disinfecting, in a way which actually makes sense – in most guides to cutting this is utterly overblown. we need to teach them where to get health-tests done, and done anonymously, before donating/feeding – almost none of the info out there is useful for kids. we need to give them a straight list of what they need to get tested for, cut to affordable length – there’s articles out there which talk of dengue and malaria as blood-borne diseases; certainly true, but not helpful. we need to teach them how to negotiate donating and feeding – none of that idiotic black veil stuff, but nice concise lists of things they need to discuss with each other before they go omnomnom on each other. we need to put out reasonable guides to legality, which specify where they are valid and not. and we need to teach them what to do in an emergency, when they need to get help and where they can go for help. we can include reasons for not feeding/donating until they are adult and/or legally able to, but that must not overwhelm the information on how to stay safe.
i can already hear the outcry in at least part of the community. we’re supposed to teach that to kids aged what? 16? 14?! fact is, there are kids who are fourteen who are feeding blood from donors no older than themselves. two friends of mine are currently starting up a vampire/donor relationship, one is 14, the other 17. they are both rather intelligent and i believe that despite their young years have the experience to actually work this out reasonably safely on their own.
but the point is made: people that age do donate, they do feed, and once they’ve got their mind made up the best thing we can do is help them be as safe as possible.
if you’ve read this so far it is evident that i’m speaking mainly of specific issues confronted by sanguinarian vampires and donors. that doesn’t mean that the same issues don’t apply to psi-vamps and donors. the common approach here seems to be that as there’s no legal framework for energy-work (including energy vampirism) there are no major issues with it either. i’ve more than once seen the suggestion that somebody who’s under 18 and wants to donate find a psi-vamp to donate to. personally i see that as a bad move; in my experience donating psi probably has a stronger impact on the psyche of the donor than donating blood does, and psi donors should be even more mature than sang donors. the issues which need to be addressed for young psi donors and vamps are different than those for young sanguinarian donors and vamps, but just as relevant.
in closing, i want to relate a recent experience i had with a 16 year old kid i met in chat. they were quite shy, but over the course of a week or two kept returning and asking more questions about vampirism, and in particular about donoring. i answered them as best as i could, and eventually they admitted that they wanted to become a donor. i continued answering questions and pointing them at websites where they could read more, advising not to hurry, to take their time, that they were still very young to be a donor. then they discovered that just about anywhere they went, they had to be 18 to post a donor ad. even through chat the protest in their voice was palpable as they said “but that’s not fair”. they had made their decision without us, and the best us oldies can do is help them make as informed a decision as reasonable.
*the public meetings are the ones which non-members can’t attend. yeah, makes sense to me too. anyway, grab your transcript here if you want to see what they’ve been going on about, it’s a good read if you’re interested in the vampire community. and actually, before anybody comes nitpicking (i know that people from the VVC come by here every so often), i do know that they’re called public meetings because the transcript to them gets made public, while the rest of the discussions they have at the VVC don’t get published. the ones open to the public are the vampire global community discussions.
**for those of you who read the transcript (or were at the meeting) and remember the topic in relation to which my name was mentioned, i’ve actually got something sketched out (i.e. in pre-draft format), but it needs a lot more work.
***well, at least they think/hope so. in some jurisdictions the legal age at which somebody might agree to a sang donation is higher, in some places one can never legally be a donor.