Thursday, November 01, 2007

People Want Schools to Provide Contraceptives

We recently poked around the story about the Maine middle school providing contraceptives at the health center. As usual, there was a little bit of a story and a lot of hype. Middle-school girls can get birth-control pills at other places, too; the school just wanted to make sure they did get them if they needed them. As would be expected, certain knee-jerk nutty types reacted as if the next thing is to disband all families and force all good people to engage in promiscuous sexual behavior.

Looking at it, I didn't see anything really to complain about, except the fact that "middle school" and "birth-control pills" were in the same sentence. Naturally, the CRC types insisted this meant "eleven-year-olds," which sounds much worse than 13-year-olds, who are more likely to be the ones who get the stuff.

At any rate, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll finds that most people aren't bothered by this sort of thing. Here's the Houston Chronicle:
WASHINGTON — People decisively favor letting their public schools provide birth control to students, but they also voice misgivings that divide them along generational, income and racial lines, a poll showed.

Sixty-seven percent support giving contraceptives to students, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll. About as many — 62 percent — said they believe providing birth control reduces the number of teenage pregnancies.

"Kids are kids," said Danielle Kessenger, 39, a mother of three young children from Jacksonville, Fla., who supports providing contraceptives to those who request them. "I was a teenager once and parents don't know everything, though we think we do."

Yet most who support schools distributing contraceptives prefer that they go to children whose parents have consented. People are also closely divided over whether sex education and birth control are more effective than stressing morality and abstinence, and whether giving contraceptives to teenagers encourages them to have sexual intercourse. Poll: Most approve of public schools providing contraceptives

Think about this: one person in three disagrees with the statement that "providing birth control reduces the number of teenage pregnancies." Please, explain to me how this statement could be untrue. Even if birth control did encourage teens to have sex, at least they'd be taking birth control pills. This could only be true if birth control pills caused people who don't take them to have more sexual intercourse. Would that happen?

It's stupid. I suppose what these people mean is that birth control pills are not as good as abstinence. So? When it comes to preventing pregnancy, they are very good. It's like saying today isn't cloudy, because some other day was cloudier.

They got a quote from a smart guy who has his cliches well memorized:
"It's not the school's place to be parents," said Robert Shaw, 53, a telecommunications company manager from Duncanville, Texas. "For a school to provide birth control, it's almost like the school saying, 'You should go out and have sex.'"

That's just perfect, the CRC seems to have a Texas branch. The perfect logic: preventing pregnancy is not just like tolerating sexual activity, it is like recommending it, telling teenagers they should go out and have sex.

Some interesting observations and a smarter concerned parent:
The 67 percent in the AP poll who favor providing birth control to students include 37 percent who would limit it to those whose parents have consented, and 30 percent to all who ask.

Minorities, older and lower-earning people were likeliest to prefer requiring parental consent, while those favoring no restriction tended to be younger and from cities or suburbs. People who wanted schools to provide no birth control at all were likelier to be white and higher-income earners.

"Parents should be in on it," said Jennifer Johnson, 29, of Excel, Ala., a homemaker and mother of a school-age child. "Birth control is not saying you can have sex, it's protecting them if they decide to."

Thank you, Jennifer.

The role of parents in all this is pretty tough. The standard line is that it should be up to a parent, but as I noted before, nobody -- zero point zero percent of teenagers -- asks their parents' approval before they have sex. The cliche is that parents should have control, but in reality they just don't. I don't really understand why somebody wants to live in that kind of dream world, I think it just means they don't want their children exposed to different beliefs about these things.
About 1,300 U.S. public schools with adolescent students — less than 2 percent of the total — have health centers staffed by a doctor or nurse practitioner who can write prescriptions, said spokeswoman Divya Mohan of the National Assembly of School-Based Health Care. About one in four of those provide condoms, other contraceptives, prescriptions or referrals, Mohan said.

Less than 1 percent of middle schools and nearly 5 percent of high schools make condoms available for students, said Nancy Brener, a health scientist with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Again showing that the Maine birth-control scandal is really a big bunch of nothing.

Well, there's a little bit more in this story, you might want to go read it.


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