Should middle schools supply birth control?
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Johnny - posted on 11/04/2010
If the government offered free bike helmets would you automatically take up cycling for that reason alone? That makes about as much sense as saying that offering free condoms is going to make kids go and start having sex.
Jane - posted on 11/05/2010
@Jennifer – You are absolutely right with regards to the differences between the US and the UK. Health care is NOT free here. There are so many pros and cons to the health care where you are at and where I am at and that’s a whole other discussion as well so let’s save that for another debate . I do have outstanding health care and as a side note, for those who think the whole US Health Care bill was a load of crap, it has benefitted me and my family in multiple ways AND I’m not paying more this year than I did last so I’m a prime example of how it’s working for at least 1 American .
Back to the issue: I never discussed my sex life with my mom either. My mom did NOT have the “talk” with me. I had my first sexual encounter at 18 so by that time, I could walk into a planned parenthood office (and I did) and pick up birth control pills but I did have to pay for it. I guess for me, it’s all about the trust there is between myself and my kids. You are the same age as my daughter and obviously the way you two have been brought up is completely different. We have a very opened dialogue as a family. It’s funny because she talks to me about EVERYTHING…almost to the point of TMI and I have to say “yeah, I don’t wanna know” – LOL. But, I’d rather it be that way than her not talking at all! You are also correct that if they are mature enough to make the decision, then it’s their choice and no one else’s and they should not have to divulge that to anyone…even their parents. For me and my family, I just wanted to be absolutely, 100% sure they knew all the facts, knew that they could come to me if they were too embarrassed to get some sort of birth control and to ensure I didn’t wind up with a pregnant teen. Hey, I’m a product of the 60 and 70’s. Ya know, peace, sex, drugs and rock and roll – I was a hippy and even though I don’t LOOK the part any longer, my head still thinks the same way (haha).
@Kelly – Boy, I find it very sad that you think if an 11-14 year old is having sex, they need counseling. Unless you’re meaning EDUCATION because their parents failed them in providing them with the proper information. I don’t believe an 11-14 year old necessarily needs psychological counseling because they are having sex at that age. Do I think sex at 11-14 is appropriate? Of course not, however, once a teen goes through puberty, their horniness does not GRADUALLY appear. It comes on full force. They are as horny as the 20, 30 or 40 year old is. They start “liking” each other at that age and once they start necking, who the hell KNOWS how far things go because these 11-14 year olds start having feelings they haven’t had before and then ya know what happens next? HORMONES take over and they have sex! That’s the reality of it all. I’m not sure why you’re so adamant about schools providing birth control (i.e., condoms). It sounds as though you agree that education is important, that the teens can obtain the condoms EVERYWHERE so why not make it one more place and allow the schools to have them. It’s not condoning sex…it’s preventing STD’s and pregnancy. And yeah, the whole “they don’t use them because…” thing is again, education. If they were educated to believe that it doesn’t necessarily make it less pleasurable to wear a condom and if all kids were educated properly, then the whole, partner not approving would be moot.
OK, enough of this book
Johnny - posted on 11/05/2010
How about offering them comprehensive sex education, counseling, and condoms? Why can't we do all of it? Kids are seriously unlikely to walk into a store and buy a pack of condoms from an adult behind the counter or at the cashier. That is a barrier for them. Being able to pick them up for free without anyone noticing makes them far more likely to actually use them if they are going to go that route. I'm fully on board with educating them, starting with the value of abstinence and going from there, but like has been said before, telling kids not to have sex has not worked at all in the past. I'm not sure why people suddenly think that withholding protection and telling kids no is going to suddenly start actually working. Of course, offering all of those listed above would probably cost to many tax dollars and we wouldn't want to unfairly burden anyone to avoid another generation of kids producing babies. That would be terrible! And in case I didn't answer in clear enough format:
1) Having to pay for them and having to purchase them from an adult is a barrier to kids. They don't have much money, they aren't going to walk up to the local grocery store and risk being seen.
2) You are correct, part of it is lack of education. Another part of it is that they are teens, they are horny, and they don't listen to authority figures who tell them not to do stuff.
3) Handing out a condom does not educate a kid and just doing that alone would be an epic fail. There is no reason condoms shouldn't be available along with comprehensive sex ed and counseling services for at-risk youth. That's how it was when I was in school and it worked great for us.
4) Books aren't much good to teens stuck at home struggling to care for a baby. Perhaps if you paid more taxes ;-) the school would be able to cover its costs. God forbid.
5) 5. The reason some kids are having sex before they are ready is NOT lack of access to birth control. Handing them a condom will not discourage sex before maturity and that is the REAL problem. Fix the real problem, don't just put a patch on it.
This doesn't make all that much sense to me, but I'll try to answer it anyway. Kids have sex for a myriad of reasons, most bad, and sometimes because they're horny just like adults are. Obviously handing them a condom isn't going to stop them from having sex. But if education, raising self-esteem, counseling etc. have either not been accomplished or have failed to convince a kid not to have sex, then I'd prefer that they had access to the added safety of a condom. It is a complete fantasy to think that there are not some kids who will have sex before they should. No amount of preaching, teaching, counseling or anything else has stopped it in the past, why would that suddenly work now?
Fine, if you want to get nit picky since your argument can't support itself--condoms are available in a large variety of places all teens have ample access to. Better?
You have not countered any of the opposing points.
1. Teens have ample access to birth control. (I listed many of them).
2. The reason teens are not using birth control is NOT lack of access, it is lack of education.
3. The schools job is to educate teens about sex, birth control, and risks. Handing a kid a condom is NOT educating them about any of that.
4. There is not enough money in some school budgets to buy books, but we should spend it on condoms? I think books are higher on the priority list.
5. The reason some kids are having sex before they are ready is NOT lack of access to birth control. Handing them a condom will not discourage sex before maturity and that is the REAL problem. Fix the real problem, don't just put a patch on it.
One by one, counter them. Honestly, I just don't see any reason they need to be there. It might not hurt, but it definitely will not help, so why waste the money? (because it's free & doesn't cost anything?gqtmays)
About #5. One theory is that kids have sex at very young ages because they are curious and want to learn more through experience--just like young kids learn through play. One solution is to educate them in more detail so they do not need to experiment before they are ready for the consequences. We cover the risks and consequences for sex, but perhaps we need to go on to explain why they need to be prepared for those consequences before having sex, and what is involved in living with those consequences.
This conversation has been closed to further comments
Stephanie - posted on 11/07/2010
me and husband are for birth control bc were not gonna pretend that our kids will remain virgins even though we would really like them too but reality is that 64% of high school students have sex before the age of 18 so i would rather my child have birth control then end up pregnant and not graduate .
Jane - posted on 11/05/2010
The one thing I find interesting is that I hear from many folks that the "SCHOOLS" need to do a better job on sex education. I agree with you Kelly....some schools do but the school district I live in does an outstanding job...maybe we are the exception here but I looked at the curriculum back when my kids took sex ed and it was outstanding. It was a mix of abstinence and true sex ed and the kids did NOT come out thinking "it can't happen to me". What I think lacks more is the parents. Parents SUCK at sexual education and honestly, in my opinion, this type of education needs to start in the home. School should not be 100% responsible for the education of our children. Yes, they go to school to book learn but real life issues, like sex, needs to be taught by the parent. It just ain't happening (I don't use "ain't" very often but it seemed appropriate). I could also get into a long discussion on the teenage brain and how it cannot reason, etc., but that would just be too darn long!
In the end, I think everyone’s comments on this thread come from the heart and all for the good of the teens in our society, however different we might all feel about how to approach it.
Here is one study about the depression aspect. Doesn't go into great detail, but there are several other studies mentioned on other factors that can help us improve education and delay the onset of sexual activity (as ideally, we don't want them having sex until they are ready in all aspects). You might enjoy reading them if you are interested in improving education (Just copy paste the cite into google and a pdf will come up).
Jane, the reasons I am so adamant about schools not supplying birth control at this time are three fold.
1. Our sex ed program is so lacking that giving a condom to a 12 year old would encourage him/her to have sex. I just went over the sex ed curriculum for 9th graders (14yrs) in my district. The end result left the teens thinking that it was okay for them to have sex as long as they used condoms. I cannot tell you how many times "condoms reduce the likely hood of STD's and pregnancy to less than 2%" was used. I would be happier if they said, "Condoms reduce the risk of STD's and pregnancy significantly, but there is still a very good likelihood you could end up pregnant or infertile if you have sex." It seems like a small change, but these teens are leaving this class thinking "It won't happen to me as long as I use a condom" and that is just not true. Almost all of the teen mothers I work with said they were using condoms or were on the pill when they conceived. It also failed to address the issues teens have when using hormonal birth control--the effectiveness can drop more than 7% leaving a huge window of opportunity for pregnancy.
2. There is no money in the budget for it. Any extra money in the budget needs to be spent on education at this time, not on a patch for insufficient education.
3. They are already available in a plethora of places. Teens do not lack access to birth control, so it is simply not needed in schools. Lack of access is not the reason teens are not using condoms, so providing more access will not have an effect on the problem.
And yes, I do believe kids who are having sex at 11 years old need counselling, something more than education. Yes, hormones are going nuts, but not so nuts they can't think straight. If you look at a sample of sexually active 11-14 year olds, you will find the majority have self esteem issues, come from abusive homes, or suffer from mental illness (depression, bi-polar, etc.). Their reaching out for sex is not so much hormones as it is a grasp for connection to another individual or acceptance from other individuals. There were some studies on this not too terribly long ago, I might try to dig them up. Stuck in bed, not much better to do anyway. You fix that, you fix their need for connection through sex, and you eliminate the need for condoms until they are older.
Jenn - posted on 11/05/2010
Yep - middle school or we called it junior high, 2 pregnant girls. You guys can argue all you want about it, but I'm glad that they ARE already offered here at our schools and they have been for decades! And it does NOT come out of the school budget; they are provided by the local Health Department.
Johnny - posted on 11/05/2010
Yes. That's what we are talking about. When I was in grade 7, I went to summer camp, where the girls in my cabin were sneaking out to the woods to have sex with the boys in the next cabin. I'm talking about MIDDLE SCHOOL!
Jackie - posted on 11/05/2010
First, I want to ask R - What's really the difference in getting them at school, in a discreet way and getting them anywhere else. They're still getting if they want them. Why not make it a lil easier? If they are hell bent on having sex and they are willing to take the precaution LET THEM TAKE THE DAMN PRECAUTION! I lost my virginity at 14 and you know what? I used a condom and didn't end up pregnant. IT HAPPENS way more often than any of us think. I hate to be the bearer of bad news but that's the reality
Jenny - posted on 11/05/2010
Ya, stores don't count as everywhere. School is where teens spend the majority of their time aside from home so it's the most logical place. And it would be from a HEALTH clinic in the school.
Lazy people lol. Try again.
They are available elsewhere is a very good point. I don't know where you live, but condoms are available everywhere here--you can get them at any gas station, we have those on almost every corner, any pharmacy, we have those in abundance too, grocery stores sell them, sex stores sell them, you can go to the free clinic and get them, my doctors office sells them, there is even a machine at the mall that sells them. Teens have easy access to at least one, if not all, of those places.
I stand by my argument that it is the schools' place to educate teens about sex, not provide tools for it.
"Harm reduction" is a cop out for lazy people who are too stupid to fix the real problem. It's not a new concept.
Jenny - posted on 11/05/2010
Of couse, I should have known. We can't have tax dollars going towards harm reduction for our teens. Those lazy, government teet suckers. If you want to have sex, get a job and pay for your own! Booootstraps!
Condoms are not available EVERYWHERE, that's why we're saying school would be a great spot to access them. A health worker is provided and kids spend a large amount of time there. It's a win-win and I think a lot of you are arguing the point just to be disagreeable because I don't see any good points being made. No, "they're available elsewhere" doesn't count.
Katherine - posted on 11/05/2010
Wow, I thought this thread was dead lol. A lot of GREAT ideas and input IMO.
I really agree with Sharon. What if your child feels more comfortable going to someone else rather than you? Why NOT have a clinic? Again just speculation.
Carol, no, I would not take up bicycling if the government gave me a free helmet, BUT I would think it was okay to ride my bicycle as long as I wear a helmet. Same logic--giving a kid a condom might not make them have sex, but if they are thinking about it, it will tell them it is okay to have sex as long as they wear a condom. Key words: It's okay to have sex.
I'm sorry, but it's not okay. And seriously, these condoms are NOT FREE. Do you honestly think that some condom manufacturer is going to just up and produce hundreds of thousands of condoms for free? If you do, you are a moron.
Condoms are available EVERYWHERE. I am not advocating denying them to teens. I AM advocating educating teens on the different forms of birth control available, where to get it, the effectiveness of each option against pregnancy and STDs, and the risks associated with having sex. The schools' job is to EDUCATE them about sex, not provide tools to make sex easier for them.
The article above stated that the top 2 reasons that teens do not use protection are that 1) They think it makes sex less pleasurable, and 2) They think their partner will not approve. Giving out condoms is not going to fix that, but educating them about the importance of a condom and the fact that it does not make sex less enjoyable would.
Case in point--it is a waste of tax dollars to put condoms in schools, and it will only lead to more casual interpretation of the risks of sex for young people.
Jane: What clearly shows that there is a huge difference between the UK and where you live is that when your daughter came to you about birth control she was 17/18. I'm assuming that's because you's pay healthcare or something. Whereas here in the UK healthcare is free and I would have never have even thought to go to my parents and ask. But that's because I didn't have to pay for it as it's free here. That's a big reason why I think contraception should be available free everywhere because a 17 or 18 year old shouldn't have to discuss those things with their parents, obviously if they feel ok doing it then fair dos but for me it's not something I'd discuss with my mam. I'm 20 now and to me my sex life is a private thing I don't even discuss with friends. Really someone who thinks they are mature enough and ready to have sex shouldn't have to divulge their feelings to anyone fullstop. It's their choice no one elses =]
Actually it's like saying "here, go have sex, just don't get pregnant/an STD".
Anyways, this conversation is going around in circles and I just wanted to leave it with this (an article about why teens don't use condoms in any case):
Ez - posted on 11/04/2010
We don't have middle school here. Primary goes from kindergarten to 6th grade (5-12yo) and high school grades 7-12 (12-18yo). I graduated high school in '99 so it's been a while since I've had anything to do with a school and I have no idea what the policies are now. We had decent sex ed through all stages of school, and were taught how to obtain BC. But we were never actually given condoms. In my class of 150+ students, there was not one single high school pregnancy that I know of.
That being said, I would support the availability of condoms in high schools (grade 7 onwards). Definitely no pills or shots though. Those things have side effects and contraindications that need to be dealt with by a doctor.
Jane - posted on 11/04/2010
I think birth control should be available in both middle and high school. I think people have to realize that parents are NOT doing their jobs when it comes to teaching their children about sex, safe sex, etc. This is why we have a teenage pregnancy epidemic because parents think "not my kid" or "we're religious and believe in waiting" or "whatever other stupid reason". Kids can buy condoms in the grocery store so why shouldn't it be FREE in school. Providing birth control DOES NOT ADVOCATE or CONDONE sex. What it does is provide safety for kids that are going to have sex because they've decided they are going to and will be prepared to protect themselves from STD's and/or pregnancy.
Every teenage boy or girl who I've known who was pregnant (both when I WAS a teenager and when my daughter was in high school) got pregnant because their parents did not teach them about sex or about safe sex. Each of these kids parents taught them abstinence only, made them promise to not have sex, made them sign papers or wear abstinence rings. They were church going people who felt that their values were enough to stop the hormones of teenagers. Well, unfortunately, they were wrong and what they wound up with is babies having babies. Very sad indeed.
Why is it that people are so afraid to teach kids about sex? Why is it that providing birth control freaks people out so much? Teaching about sex and birth control does not mean you're saying "here's a free ticket...go have sex with whomever you want because you have protection". You can still teach waiting until you are either mature enough or until marriage if that's what you want but still provide the teenager the tools they need IF they let their hormones take over and have sex.
I'm very pationate about this. My kids were taught at a VERY young age about sex. They were taught that no matter WHAT, they could come to me and I would get them whatever they needed to be sure they were safe from STD's or pregnancy. They are 20 and 17. My 20 year old daughter has been with her boyfriend for 5 years now...they will get married when they both graduate from college but when she was close to 18, she came to me BEFORE they had sex and we put her on birth control and I bought her condoms JUST IN CASE he didn't have any. My 17 year old son KNOWS he can come to me when that time arrives, however, he and his girlfriend of over 2 years are still not ready and I think that's great. I feel as though I've done my job...I won't have a pregnant teen. BUT, so many parents are naive to think that it won't happen and it, quite frankly, pisses me off because pregnancy is completely preventable whether you practice abstinence OR safe/protected sex.
I'm conflicted on this one. With the number of 12-14 year olds that get pregnant here... I should be in favor of it, but my girls will be 10 when they first enter middle school and this is NOT something I want to think about yet. We are in the very beginning stages of sex ed (girls will be 9 in just over a month) in this house, so give me another year or two before I answer my opinion on this. ;)
Bonnie - posted on 11/04/2010
I don't agree with supplying middle schools with birth control. What grades is that anyway? 7/8? So if that is the case, that means they would be 12 to 14 year olds? Nope sorry. Don't agree with it. It's like saying, "we have birth control for you so it's okay to go have sex." It is like they would be giving out an invitation. If they were to do this, I think more kids would be having sex and not everyone at those ages are having sex to begin with. Heck not even all 18 year old are having sex.
Serena - posted on 11/04/2010
I think its a good idea to offer kids condoms even in middle school. I know people who were already having sex with and without protection.
In a perfect world, kids wouldn't be having sex but they are so we need to best prepare them. I know even when I was in high school I was embarrassed to buy condoms (yes I have read the posts about if you are embarrassed to buy them you shouldn't be having sex.) so yes there were times where I did have unprotected sex with my boyfriend. So I know there have to be a lot of other kids out there with the same logic, so why not give them somewhere to get them for free and without judgement.
I just want to add that it doesn't necessarily encourage sex but rather encourages the idea that protection is necessary...
Stifler's - posted on 11/04/2010
The nurses office at my school probably had condoms. Once you turn 16 here you can go to the doctor yourself and get the pill without them disclosing anything to your parents. We had pretty vigilant, decent sex education at my school about IUDs, diaphragms, condoms, dams, the pill, human relationships, services available such as the sexual health clinic at the hospital, etc.
" I didn't lose my virginity until I was 18 and in college. The majority of my friends also graduated as virgins."
If that were true for the majority of teens, we wouldn't need to be giving condoms to 12 yr olds, so this would be a non issue. Perhaps we should be trying to figure out what is driving some teens to have sex in the first place and fix that, rather than just validating the bad decision. What are the differences in teens who know better and those who don't?
Jenny, your argument doesn't make any sense whatsoever. You are saying, "It is not okay for teens to have sex, but but here is a condom for when you do." I'm sorry, that's moronic. If it is not okay for them to have sex, they don't need a condom. By giving them a condom you are telling them, "You should not have sex, but it's okay if you do as long as you use a condom." No matter how you look at it, you are telling them it is okay for teens to have sex, because they wouldn't need a condom if they weren't going to have sex.
I know that's redundant, but I am trying to make it as clear as possible.
EDIT: I am not saying to deny kids birth control, but let them get it themselves if they are so responsible--it is available everywhere.
No need to get snarky. I already stated they should be able to get them. Just not at school. I'm happy my SD is growing up in country where girls under the age of 21 can walk into a chemist and get the BC pill for free without a prescription, and free condoms from the clinic. Just not at school.
Jenny - posted on 11/04/2010
Nobody is saying it's ok for middle schoolers to have sex, let alone a 10 year old. I already explained teens know better than that but I didn't think I'd have to explain it to an adult too.
Let me make this perfectly clear: it is not ok for teens to have sex. Teens are having sex anyway. We need to protect the teens the best we can with education and birth control. The end.
For the sake of debate, what about this 10 year old Roma girl in Spain who got pregnant and had a child? (I didn't see any of you post so I don't know how you feel about it). If she was attending a middle school (as she would since she's 10), would you (general you) say it's ok that she was having sex in the first place, even if it was safe sex?
Johnny - posted on 11/04/2010
Starting when I was first in grade 8 (I was 12) every time I went into the counseling office to select courses or whatever I passed a big basket of condoms. I didn't lose my virginity until I was 18 and in college. The majority of my friends also graduated as virgins. We had better things to do. Open access to birth control does not equal an encouragement to have sex. Even teens can figure that out.
Jenny - posted on 11/04/2010
R, teens aren't exactly well known for their long term thinking skills. I'm not willing to risk the rest of my child's life over a stupid decsion as a teen because they couldn't wait long enough to go to the store in the heat of the moment. Let's be real here. It's not worth risking our teen's lives over lack of access to BC.
Jenn - posted on 11/04/2010
But wouldn't they be more likely to actually get a condom from school than to go somewhere and have to buy it? If it's available in a discreet way at school, that sounds like a better plan to me. Like others have pointed out - just because you don't think at that age they SHOULD be having sex - they are! As I already pointed out - there were 2 girls that were pregnant by grade 8 in my school.
I'm not saying deny them protection or education (I am all for sex education, and not abstinence only). I just don't think middle schools should be the ones to give it to them. If they want to have sex, they can go to the chemist or the clinic.
Johnny - posted on 11/04/2010
Exactly Jenny. Unfortunately, counseling is not always effective. They might still make a bad choice. Why raise the risk that a child may get an STD or get pregnant if they do end up having sex? It doesn't make any sense to me.
I do think we should educate kids (at home and at school) about abstinence and work our darndest to raise their self-esteem, but you are really gambling with their future when you deny them the protection offered by a condom. No, condoms are not the ultimate protection, abstinence is, but a good portion of kids are simply not going to abstain. Wishing it were so isn't going to change that.
Sharon - posted on 11/04/2010
You ever try to counsel someone who sees the instant fix (having sex to gain love) vs. fixing themselves?
You ever talk to a teenager who is getting all the easy answers from their peers versus getting the " you need to better yourself and in 8 yrs you'll see it differently" lecture from their parents?
good luck with that.
Caitlin - posted on 11/04/2010
You can counsel a teenager all you want, but they aren't suddenly going to walk into school the most confident person in the world. Adults can't just flip a self esteem switch in the kids. Self-esteem is a lifetime in the making, and can be shot down really quickly by a bully at school, and there's not much a parent can do about that.
Caitlin - posted on 11/04/2010
Our sex ed was great in school, Its started in grade 5, and my mom was a sex ed teacher, so I got it ALL at home too. My self esteem wasn't sky high, but wasn't low, I was pretty ocnfident about myself, and I had sex at 13... I used a condom as well, so I wasn't naive or anything. I also wasn't pressured, I was curious... It was fine, nothing spectacular as far as I remember. My boyfriend at the time didn't even go to the same school as me, so that wasn't the reasoning either.
Not everyone out there is all religious, and those people who are should teach their morality at home and let the schools educate, because no matter what religion you are, knowing how the body works is important..
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