Birth control for teens is not enough

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No parent wants to believe their school-aged child would make sex an extracurricular activity, but unfortunately, more do every year. The question then becomes, is teaching abstinence enough?

Educating our youth about safe sex and supplying them with the right tools for the decisions they make is the right thing to do.

Opponents say the policy will promote promiscuity; that it will protect rather than punish sexual predators, some of whom are surely responsible for impregnating children; that it will lead to an increase in sexually transmitted diseases; that it violates the rules of God and the rights of the parent.

But these points ignore the bottom line, and that is the prevention of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

This is one social problem where America has seen real progress. Teen pregnancy is at its lowest level in 30 years, the Alan Guttmacher Institute reports, down 36 percent from its peak in 1990. Researchers credit all three approaches — abstinence, sex education and access to birth control — with contributing to the decline.

‘’Abstinence-only’’ education neglects the needs of young people who are sexually active; distributing birth control without teaching kids how to use it or how to say ‘’no’’ is also incomplete.

Buying the logic that says providing access to birth control means more teens will have sex is not true; you don’t go looking for birth control until the decision to use it is already made.

Boys need to be taught that they are responsible for birth control, too.

If we’re serious about making birth control available, we should bring back condom machines, and put them in arcades, fast food restaurants and other places where young people can purchase them without embarrassment — perhaps school restrooms.

This isn’t a question of either/or; teens need all the guidance, information, values and tools they can handle, from whatever source, to avoid making mistakes they’ll regret for a lifetime.


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