By Margarita Hovsepyan
Preventing Premature Parenthood
OPINION: Trump and Clinton are pitting one group of people against another, avoiding what really matters: policy
2010. Alexandria, Virginia.
T.C. Williams High School makes the decision to install an adolescent health care center on their campus. The clinic offers full time services as a primary care physician and a nurse practitioner.
The school’s social worker, David Wynne, confirms that this new addition to William’s campus has accelerated a drop in the number of pregnant teens. In the first year that the clinic was operational, the nearly 50 cases reported every year had dropped to only 20.
There is clearly a correlation between the easy access of contraceptives provided by the school with the decreasement in pregnant teens.
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment states there has been a whopping 40% drop in teen pregnancy rates between 2009 and 2013. Largely responsible for this drop is a state program which offers free contraceptives to low-income women.
These cases pose a question: Should non-prescription birth control be provided to teens? Or will it be responsible for encouraging more intercourse and undermining a parent’s input in their child’s life decisions?
After all, Western culture has become more open to talking about, and working to prevent premature parenthood, but the topic still generates much tension and controversy.
Parents are concerned that making birth control readily available to their teenage daughters will encourage them to have more sex.
However, if someone wishes to have sex, then they will probably find a way, even if they haven’t taken the proper precautions to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies.
Making birth control more accessible in no way undermines a parent’s authority. Parents still have the power. They can still decide to educate their children.
The South—which has the largest number of schools (55%) that teach abstinence as a form of pregnancy prevention—also has the highest rate of teen births, according to USA Today.
Teens in states like Maine, New York, Oregon, and California take mandatory sex education, making them more aware of the consequences of unprotected sex. However, they may be too embarrassed or afraid to ask for contraceptives (Van Nuys High School offers free condom distribution).
Teen pregnancy is a costly matter for U.S. taxpayers. In 2008, it cost at least $10.9 billion according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Also, take into consideration that birth control not only prevents unwanted pregnancies, but can also help decrease feminine menstrual pain, treat acne, and prevent sexually transmitted diseases, like HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea.
According to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), a non-profit organization devoted to professional development, educational leadership, and capacity building, studies across the nation have shown an increase in the number of teens engaging in intercourse. The rise could also be correlated with the decreasing number of religious millennials. Secular teens no longer feel the obligation to respect or follow religious teachings about relationships.
Overprotective parents can lead to teenagers becoming even more rebellious. Telling us not to have sex only sparks our curiosity and further encourages us to do the opposite. Access to proper contraceptives and mandatory sex education for all teens—who can take personal responsibility for their actions—is the best way to combat teen pregnancies.