Friday, August 26, 2005

More on Canton Timken

On the GrowOhio website, a Democrat-run blog that’s pretty much for Ohio, “Jeff Seemann For Congress” begins to look a bit deeper at the reasons for the high pregnancy rate at Canton McKinley referenced a few posts down.

Its all “abstinence only” education’s fault. Obviously. But before he makes his main point, he takes the time to accuse a man who wrote a letter to the editor of the Canton Repository of racism.

Yes, that's right....sterilize the children of Timken High School (which, by the way, is populated with a majority who are African-American ). Something tells me that this idea was proposed before with a certain race of people....I wonder how that plan turned out?

Now granted, I don’t think sterilization is the answer for the pregnancy problem, but to take the step of calling the person racist (ok, fine, he was only VERY STRONGLY implying it), is to go too far.

Regardless, the author moves on to:

But the lesson here is simple. Abstinence-only was taught at Timken High School. Since that lesson was adopted, one out of every 7.6 girls got pregnant.

The facts cannot be ignored, and there is one solid fact that is not yet being talked about....

If these girls had been given a choice and had been TOLD about proper sexual protection, the pregnancy rate WOULD have been lower. Condoms are not 100% reliable. But clearly, neither is abstinence-only.

And…wait for it….

Tax dollars were given to fundamentalist groups which directly led to more teen pregnancy.

And there we have it. According to Jeff Seemann For Congress, abstinence-only education directly leads to more teen pregnancy. All over the country, schools that have adopted the program have seen marked increases in their pregnancy rates. There are an estimated 16.4 million high school students in the United States. If only 10 percent of those students attend schools that have adopted abstinence-only education programs, then according to Jeff Seemann for Congress’ reasoning, there are 215,789 pregnancies in those high schools alone.

The problem is that according to this site, teenage sexual activity has pretty much levelled off since the late 1990’s in spite of this horrible horrible abstinence-only program. How is this possible? Sure, we could go into all of the regression scales and linear curving and all kinds of other mathmatical fol de rol that makes little sense to me. That might even be interesting in the sense of…ok you got me, there’s no way I could make that interesting at all.

Consider the conclusion of

Why Are Rates of Teen Pregnancy Declining?

Analysis by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and other investigators (including the Alan Guttmacher Institute) suggests that both less sex and more contraceptive use are making important contributions to the decline in the teen pregnancy rate. That is, teen pregnancy rates have been declining because a smaller proportion of teens were having sex and the pregnancy rate among sexually active teens decreased due to better contraceptive use (and also, perhaps, to less sexual activity among those with some sexual experience).

Educators are divided about which of the two points to emphasize. Shall we give more deference to the fact that a “small proportion of teens” are having sex and run with that? Surely there is validity to some emphasis upon that. What about emphasizing that contraceptives are an effective tool in preventing pregnancy, and to a varying degree, in preventing sexually transmitted diseases? One should be able to realize the importance of at least teaching children of these points.

The ultimate discussion should not first be whether these things should be studied, because most reasonable people can see the importance of being knowledgable in both points. What should be discussed is who should be teaching these things to the children. Should it be federally mandated that evey high school freshman get issued a pack of Trojans on the first of every month? Should Mrs. Smith be hauling out the Old Testament and teach kids that sex outside of the marriage bond was punishable by being stoned with stones?

The decision should lie with the School Board. Yes, those duly elected officials who direct which way our schools go in every other point of curriculum. The federal government does not have the ability to understand what my kids know or do not know, and do not have the right to tell my kids that they are ready to understand the fullness of any kind of a sexual relationship at the age of 12. I’m also not saying that the School Board does either, but with them, I have a greater degree of control over what is being taught, in other words, if they don’t do the things I want them to do, I can campaign against them and vote them out of office.

My preference would be for the school to trust me enough (*gasp*!) to teach my own kids about this. The problem is that though I might be willing and responsible enough to teach my kdis about such things, not every other parent feels the same responsibility. And let’s be honest, who really looks forward to “the birds and the bees” talk? The responsibility is laid at the feet of the schools, who must find the happy middle ground of emphasizing the importance of abstinence (because as a preventative measure against pregnancy, its pretty good overall) and educating students about preventative measures, without enabling them at the same time. It is a very fine line, because either way that you go, someone’s going to be mad.

Finally, Jeffy says this:

If these girls had been given a choice and had been TOLD about proper sexual protection, the pregnancy rate WOULD have been lower.

Because you see, these HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS are smart enough to realize the workings of the sexual organs, but totally ignorant of condom use. I have never met a high school freshman who didn’t know what a condom was. Sure, there are still a few who giggle when someone says it, heck, even I do, but these kids aren’t stupid at all. I’d like to ask these kids why they are pregnant. If any one of them would say, “Well, my school didn’t tell me about condoms, so I figured it would be ok,” any one of us would slap them upside the head. Its an ignorant argument and we all know it. The excuses we’d get would be, “I figured I could get away with it,” “It was only the one time,” or “We didn’t have a condom/heat of the moment.” My next question would be, “If you would not have had sex that night, would you be pregant right now?” End of discussion.

Its one of the toughest lessons to learn in life. I hope these kids can get through it.

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