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The Debate: Contraceptives in Schools

Two weeks ago, a school-based health center that serves King Middle School in Portland, Maine, was approved to dispense prescription contraceptives to students who use the clinic. About 30 percent of school-based health centers -- most of them serving high schoolers -- have been okayed to write contraceptive prescriptions and dispense condoms, according to the National Assembly on School-Based health care.

"The Portland clinic is not the first in the country to offer such services," writes the New York Times. "Four middle schools in Seattle offer reproductive health care through city-administered health centers, said James Apa, communications manager for Public Health-Seattle and King County. Clinics in six Baltimore middle schools offer access to oral contraceptives, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the city's health commissioner, who said the program had helped to decrease teenage pregnancy rates."

The idea of providing contraceptives to young teens came about because 17 middle school students in Portland had become pregnant in the last four years, seven of them last year, Portland's health and human services director Douglas S. Gardner told the Times. About 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys report having sex before the age of 15, says the Guttmacher Institute.

While the King Middle School decision has proven controversial, it appears to be an idea whose time has come with a majority of parents. An Associated Press-Ipsos poll finds that 67 percent of parents support giving contraception to students. Of that 67 percent, 37 percent would limit the giving of contraceptives to those whose parents have consented and 30 percent to all who ask.

What's your opinion? Should school-centered health clinics give middle schoolers contraceptives? And should parents be notified?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  November 2, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  The Debate
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Comments


"About 13 percent of girls and 15 percent of boys report having sex before the age of 15, says the Guttmacher Institute."

This is utter nonsense. It's so much higher. Maybe that's a typo and they meant to say that's the percentage of kids who are CAUGHT having sex before the age of 15!!

This story leaves me wishing more parents would parent. I mean that in so many ways, some of which are conflicting -- like I wish parents would have frank and open talks with children and encourage them not to have sex until they're adult enough/married (depending on your views), but I wish those same parents would realize that if children are going to have sex, they need to be protected, both from pregnancy and STDs.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 2, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Also -- FIRST!!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | November 2, 2007 7:46 AM | Report abuse

It happens. We KNOW it happens. What appalls me is people who say "It will encourage them to have sex!" What? THEY ARE ALREADY GETTING PREGNANT!

Anyway, nothing embarrasses a kid out of having sex faster than a bunch of adults talking to him and telling him HOW to do it. Just saying.

Posted by: Kat | November 2, 2007 7:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm often amazed at how we treat the issue of teen sex and sex-ed. Through most of human recorded history it was a non-issue: of course teens had sex, because most were married by the time they were 15 and were often parents at that age! Now we expect teens to abstain from being the way they are. Yes, times have changed, and there are many valid reasons for abstaining from sex or not becoming a parent while a teenager, but we should not deny this basic fact of humanity. We should incorporate it into how we teach them to make their life choices.

Posted by: loyola | November 2, 2007 7:57 AM | Report abuse

Semantics are key here... "giving" kids condoms is alot more active than making them "available".

Either way, though, condoms should be available to anyone who is considering having sex.

I think the lesser evil is to at least introduce the availability of protection for something almost all people will do at some point in their lives.

Posted by: AJohn1 | November 2, 2007 8:04 AM | Report abuse

"Clinics in six
Baltimore middle schools offer access to oral contraceptives, said Dr. Joshua"

Solves the mystery of Baltimore being the STD capital of the United States.

Posted by: DandyLion | November 2, 2007 8:32 AM | Report abuse

It distresses me to think of 12 and 13 year olds having sex, but I support the idea of having condoms available for this group. However, I have a big problem with giving them hormonal contraceptives. First, these are medications with significant side effects, and I don't think we know enough about how the hormones may affect such young girls to be giving them out without parental supervision at the very least. Second, hormonal birth control is generally recommended for people in committed, monogamous relationships who can remember to take the pill reliably. I don't think kids that age are mature enough to be counted on for either requirement.

Posted by: YetanotherSAHM | November 2, 2007 8:39 AM | Report abuse

I can't even imagine the option being present where we live!!
Parents HAVE to step up to the plate and be there for there kids--talk to them for God's sake! But since that's not happening, SOMEONE has to educate these kids about the dangers of STDs and how to prevent them and babies!! Yes, I think it's ok to have this in schools and yes I think the kids should not have to fear their parents finding out. I am a Christian, moderate voter, but I am not blind. Kids do have sex whether we want them to or not! Having a baby or getting an STD is not "told you so" payback. I know too many parents who would throw out their kids or be horrible to them if such a thing happened. For the record my 13 and 11 year old and I talk frankly about all of this. I DO present my position on abstinence, but they must have knowledge. They are human. They can/will make all kinds of bad choices on the way to adulthood. I want them safe when possible. In an ideal world this would not be necessary. Sadly, we live in a less than ideal world.

Posted by: Mom in a red state | November 2, 2007 8:40 AM | Report abuse

Condoms are fine, birth control pills definitely not without parental consent.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

"What appalls me is people who say "It will encourage them to have sex!"

If you teach a 12 year old that it is acceptable to use contraception, you are teaching them that it is acceptable to have sex.

Parents who want to pawn off their duty to teach their kids the ins and outs of sex education on the public school system are just plain irresponsible. When the public institutions take the rights from parents to govern their family life issues, expect it to turn into a social engineering excersize, and that's exactly what these contraception handout programs are designed to do. Make sure the underprivelidged don't reproduce, get their consent to sterilize them if you have to.

BTW: These contraception education/condom handout programs have been around for quite some time and their is no evidence that they have had any significant long-time results what so ever

So what are my tax dollars paying for? Publicly funded advertisement, distribution and training of contraception products. More bad medicine that doesn't work.

So go right ahead, tell your teenager that it is perfectly fine to have sex so long as they are responsible and can make an informed decision. LOL! I expect more teenage pregnancies and more STDs to come.

Posted by: GutlessCoward | November 2, 2007 9:28 AM | Report abuse

Thanks to DandyLion for pointing that out. Agreed, condoms yes, the pill no. I find it very hard to believe that one can legally dispense prescription pharmeceuticals to minors anyway. I do know a girl who was emotionally abandoned by her parents when she got pregnant in High School with terrible repercusions into adulthood. Prevent prevent prevent!

Posted by: Olney | November 2, 2007 9:30 AM | Report abuse

My college roommate got job over the summer analyzing samples of STDs for a study in Baltimore. This was 15 years ago at least. I joked with him about it later, but he just told me to "shut up." I kept needling him and he basically broke down. Instead of lots of samples of 20 or 30 year old women, the samples he had to study were from girls from age 9(!) to age 18. Every sample they looked at was from a minor and there were hundreds of samples from Baltimore and they all had syphilis.

Posted by: DCer | November 2, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

Wow, how times have changed. My parents provided me with contraception when I was in Junior High. Back then it was called "adult supervision". I was NEVER alone with a boy or a girl without parents in the room or house. They kept an eye on me 24/. They knew all my friends and teachers - and I don't mean just knew their names, they talked to them all, regularly. That was what parenting was all about back then. I think kids now call it, "gettin all up in my business." Well, my folks were ALL up in it. Thank goodness. It worked! I married at 26 and have two great kids now. I don't regret waiting until adulthood (not nec. marriage) to enjoy adult activities.

My mom's motto, "If you can't deal with the consequences alone, then you've got no businesses having sex." If you have no job, education or money to have a child or an abortion, then you have no business enjoying sex. You just haven't earned the right. Painfully blunt, but true.

Too bad schools don't offer this much support to students for books, supplies and after school activities. How's about using some of that contraception money for extra after school tutoring in subjects like math and science (esp. for girls) and music and art? Perhaps if our students found their passion in studies, they wouldn't have to find other ways to spend their time.

Also, parents and teachers have to be frank with kids - yes, we WANT you to enjoy sex one day, and maybe even have kids. Just not while you are in school. Geez, isn't learning self control part of education?

Posted by: Kay | November 2, 2007 9:47 AM | Report abuse

"BTW: These contraception education/condom handout programs have been around for quite some time and their is no evidence that they have had any significant long-time results what so ever"

Neither has abstinence-only education that our tax dollars ARE paying for. The incidences of STDs among teenagers have increased over the past 6 years (hmmmm wonder what significant event happened 6 years ago?)

Posted by: d | November 2, 2007 9:53 AM | Report abuse

I think the most significant risk to the school of making condoms available to middle schoolers would be the danger of the condoms being used as water balloons in class!!

Posted by: anne. | November 2, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

Something doesn't sit right with me about dispensing the pill to middle-schoolers at school, but it doesn't bother me with high schoolers. I'm not really sure why that is.

Anyhow, I hope that these clinics are reinforcing what the kids learn in health class about STDs and condom use.

For those who advocate parental permission, don't kid yourself. If the kid felt comfortable approaching the parents about birth control, she'd have gotten it from her doc long ago.

Of course that brings up another point. Is the school nurse going to start giving these girls pelvic exams now that they are sexually active? If the kid isn't talking to her parents about the pill, how can she get the medical care that she needs?

Posted by: Bob | November 2, 2007 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Posted by WorkingMomX | November 2, 2007 07:45 AM:

"This story leaves me wishing more parents would parent. I mean that in so many ways, some of which are conflicting -- like I wish parents would have frank and open talks with children and encourage them not to have sex until they're adult enough/married (depending on your views), but I wish those same parents would realize that if children are going to have sex, they need to be protected, both from pregnancy and STDs."

I would have to concur with you here WorkingMomX, at least in a very specific context. There is an increasing trend to assigning to schools the responsibilities that parents traditionally held. (Schools function "in loco parentis" in most states.) It is not exactly something that the schools are wanting either, in my experience, though if anything I think we will see continuing trends in this direction as another generation grows older without having learned how to parent from their parents.

Posted by: David S | November 2, 2007 10:00 AM | Report abuse

"I find it very hard to believe that one can legally dispense prescription pharmeceuticals to minors anyway. "

Posted by: Olney | November 2, 2007 09:30 AM

When I was in high school, one of the girls I was dating got her pills "off the grid", so to speak, without telling her parents. This was a lot of years ago.

Where have you been?

Posted by: Bob | November 2, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

I find it so disturbing when there's a mass social problem, >10% sex in pre-pubescent teens, we look for blame and control. A trend that is this large is a human trait and we obviously don't accept that it's normal. It's gross to come up with a pill solution to solve this sad state.

There needs to be a lot of talking. Kids talking, parents talking, medical professionals etc. This isn't a moral issue it's a crisis. This isn't the parents fault or responsibility, it's an epidemic. The kids aren't kids, why? It's sad to think that the very same people who think this is a problem, want to shove a pill down the kids throats. While I don't oppose people coming to that conclusion, my greatest fear is problems that are addressed by people who hate the needy.

Posted by: swp | November 2, 2007 10:06 AM | Report abuse

My daughter turns 13 today and is in an upper middle-class suburban school where there is only the traditional nurse's office that does not dispense. I participate in many school activites and committees. I am not naive but am much aginst schoo.lbased clinic dispensing birth control to students without parental notification for reasons of health, possible child abuse aspects, family integrity, and the overwhelming aspect of peer influence. Despite the possibilities of pregnancy, the risks on all of these levels outweigh such a role for schools.

Posted by: Dave P | November 2, 2007 10:13 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, my parents subscribed to that "condoms yes; pills no" theory...they were rewarded by becoming the youngest grandparents in their social circle.

Posted by: Katie's Mom | November 2, 2007 10:15 AM | Report abuse

I think perhaps the schools should not be doing this, but maybe partnering with a local planned parenthood instead, or some type of clinic where a health professional could come in and give talks separately to the students and the parents as to what is available.

Education, education, education. I didn't have sex until I met my husband, but in high school, I did plenty of other things - oral sex, etc. All this was done in the 1 hour after school at my boyfriend's house where no one was home, before my mom came home and I had to be home.

If kids have 30 minutes, 20 minutes, etc., they will find a way. Don't kid yourself.. My parents had NO CLUE. I was an honor student and not that much of a rebel. Still, I did plenty, and again, they were OBLIVIOUS.

So all those parents of teens out there thinking "Not my kid," I think your kid would probably have some interesting things to share.

Posted by: Rebecca | November 2, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

I don't understand. Are the schools employing doctors to evaluate and prescribe birth control? Or are they acting as a pharmacy and dispensing medication based on an existing prescription? Are the schools going to offer follow-up care if the hormone level is off for a particular student? Prescription contraception isn't a one-size-fits all thing.

Posted by: NoVA | November 2, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe I'm reading "condoms yes, pills no." Such a double standard -- fine, boys can use birth control, but girls can't!

Posted by: Lynne | November 2, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

As a sex educator, the biggest hurdle I've found in education teenagers is getting their parents comfortable with talking about sex. Once parents get over the emotional hurdle of saying words like sexual intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, orgasm, rape, etc, in conversation with their teenagers, everything becomes easier. If the parents don't get too weirded out, neither will the teenagers. Particularly if the conversations start when the child is still relatively young (10 or 11) and continue through puberty.

I write a blog for parents on this topic:
http://www.adolescentsexualitytoday.blogspot.com

Posted by: Karen Rayne | November 2, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

I would fight any school interested in giving a teenager hormonal birth control without parental knowledge and consent. There's no way for the family to be aware of possible serious side effects. My one experience with hormonal birth control resulted in a sudden, deep depression that would have been very dangerous if I had not been old enough to recognize it and under a therapist's care. It's hard for teenagers to recognize normal hormonal mood swings, and recognizing clinical depression is much harder. Since many of the overwhelming emotions of depression involve shame and guilt, as well as sorrow, a teenager who recently became sexually active might attribute the emotional disturbance to behavior, rather than look harder for potential physical causes. A kid seeking birth control without her parents' awareness also may not have the kind of family openness and support necessary to recognize and address this issue.

My experience was unusual, but it would have endangered my life if it had occurred when I was 16 and not when I was 22. Doctor's supervision and parental awareness are vital for prescribing these medications to teenagers.

Condoms? Sure. Pills? No.

Posted by: krasni | November 2, 2007 11:29 AM | Report abuse

My favorite "not my kid" story is a woman I worked with who had a 15 year old daughter. She favored abstinence and told her daugter sex before marriage was wrong. Her daughter had a boyfriend and came home from his house one day with a bump on her forehead. It was from the boyfriend's nightstand. She even admitted this to her mom. The daughter came in to get something the next day and we asked about the bump. When she told us what happened we asked her if she had talked to her daughter about birth control. She actually said her daughter would never so anything like that. Hello, bump on the head you can only get from laying down on the bed. What do you think they were doing? Moral of the story is that some parents just want to hide their head in the sand and pretend if they don't think it should happen it won't.

I agree with Rebecca that if kids have any opportunity they will find a way if they want to. You can't prevent it so you need to educate and protect them. If the parents aren't going to, the school steps up and then gets criticized for it. I think if more parents did their job and had those talks with their kids there would be no need for the school to step in. Until that day comes I am glad that schools are helping these kids get what they need.

Posted by: California Mom | November 2, 2007 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Also, here's a story I like to remind people about. Around 2000 the DC police broke up a gang of drug dealers and troublemakers. These teenagers formed a tight-knit, organized criminal gang that had wild parties, suspected prostitution, suspected assaults, convicted of drug dealing, weapons violations and shoplifting. They were caught because they organized "skip parties" where kids would pay to go to a wild party held during the day when parents were at work. Where did these kids go after school to meet and form this gang and their criminal plans? They met as members of a local church group that was supposed to be a study group. The parents and the priests thought they were all good boys because they were religious and in church every day, but this gang only knew each other from church. The Washington Post articles omitted the church involvement as their cover, but I knew those kids hung out at the church every day as did the whole neighborhood.

So, those parents who want to sit back assured that their kid won't do bad things... you really have to be careful. They can look innocent, but what are they texting about?

Posted by: DCer | November 2, 2007 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way, my parents didn't really sit me down and tell me anything, but in the 1970s I watched so much Sarah T: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic that I never did anything like that, though was in trouble other ways.

Posted by: DCer | November 2, 2007 11:38 AM | Report abuse

"If you teach a 12 year old that it is acceptable to use contraception, you are teaching them that it is acceptable to have sex."

If you teach a 16 year old that it is acceptable to use seatbelts, you are teaching them that it is acceptable to have car wrecks.

Posted by: Poster | November 2, 2007 11:49 AM | Report abuse

Katie's mom, if used CORRECTLY, condoms are almost as effective against pregnancy as the pill.

Lynne - you're acting like condoms keep boys from getting pregnant and the pill keeps girls form getting pregnant! Condoms protect both partners from ending up with a baby or STD. The problem with the pill is the hormonal implications, which these girls are too young for, as well as the fact that in young people it increases their chances of STDs because they don't use codnoms then. People seem to care more about pregnancy, thinking STDs can't happen to them.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 11:58 AM | Report abuse

If you teach a 16 year old that it is acceptable to use seatbelts, you are teaching them that it is acceptable to have car wrecks.

Posted by: Poster | November 2, 2007 11:49 AM

Thank you, finally a great comeback for that asinine statement.

What angers me is a PSA telling kids to wait until marriage to have sex. This is what my taxes are paying for? I'm 40 and never plan to get married (not gay BTW) just never liked that particular institution. According to the Bush Administration I am supposed remain a virgin (I'm not). What about gays? Since our country won't allow them to marry (except in MA), but are they not allowed to have a loving, committed, intimate, sexual relationships? Our backwarda$$ administration stop looking at issues in black and white and realize sex education is more nuanced than abstinence. One of the things that Stacy leaves out is the reason behind Portland's decision to dispense birth control. The growing rate of teen pregnancy in their school system...as young as 13-14. I agree more parents should be more involved, but not all parents are capable. My sex ed talk with my mother was "don't get pregnant". I didn't, so I guess it worked.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

"I'm 40 and never plan to get married..."

Why is the 40 year-old spinster's sex life relevant to a discussion about contraception in schools?

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 12:26 PM | Report abuse

teach their kids the ins and outs of sex education
____________________
The ins and outs of sex ed - hee hee hee. That's funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

RE: An Associated Press-Ipsos poll finds that 67 percent of parents support giving contraception to students.

Then let those parents give their consent! I absolutely would not give away my parental rights to the school/government/community to offer any form of birth control to my middle schoolers (aged 12). To do so would be an abdication of responsiblity.

Posted by: momof3boys | November 2, 2007 12:48 PM | Report abuse

"If you teach a 16 year old that it is acceptable to use seatbelts, you are teaching them that it is acceptable to have car wrecks."

Real cute and catchy, but it IS acceptable for a licensed driver to screw up (get the parallel?), but not a 12 year old because it is unacceptable for a 12 year old to drive a car. Flawed logic though.


Posted by: GutlessCoward | November 2, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

12:26, its not, I was making a valid point about how incompetent this adminstration's idea of sex education is, but I guess you chose to read into it what you wanted. Typical.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 2, 2007 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The problem I think, is that most of us here, work hard to parent properly and keep open lines of communication with our children; we communicate our values and supervise our kids as well. However, many parents don't do the above mentioned parenting. What do we as a society owe to these children? Should a young girl who is having sex and can't talk to her mother be penalized for that? My kids are young still, and I'm not sure what we would do if my 13 yr. old son or daughter was having sex. We talk frankly about things and expect that to continue and while I certainly wouldn't want someone prescribing a medication for my daughter without my consent, that doesn't mean that we don't need to provide an avenue for children who aren't fortunate enough to have good parents.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 2, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

I don't want Bush or his administration involved in any way in my children's sex education. (and I'm still pissed about Clinton's involvement in their sex education)

typical?

Posted by: 12:26 | November 2, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

How low can America go? Have we forgot how to say NO?

Give a youngster a condum and you can be sure that youngster will end up with deadly AIDS or with the ultimate in contraception, deadly Abortion.

Condums don't work! It is a myth and a Big Lie to believe that they do anything but encourage Moral Corruption.

Posted by: TOMSAIL | November 2, 2007 1:35 PM | Report abuse

i think that gutless coward's remark about telling kids about condoms is like telling them it is ok to have sex totally false. if that premise were true then abstinancy programs would have much lower rates of sexual activity. after all, they don't teach about condoms & they say that sex is outside of marriage is wrong. i think there have been enough studies to show that is not the case. so that leaves me with the statement, ok, gutless coward, show me the studies that show that teaching kids about condoms increases sexual activity & it is precisely because of the condoms that the kids increased their sexual activity.

Posted by: quark | November 2, 2007 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Tomsail - before you are going to condem something, like say CONDOMS, maybe you should make sure you have the proper spelling.

Posted by: moxiemom1 | November 2, 2007 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Ummmm Tomsail...it's CONDOMS, not condums. And you sound like you could use a comprehensive sex-ed class yourself.

Posted by: R | November 2, 2007 1:45 PM | Report abuse

I am not comfortable with school becoming medical facilities or actively providing any form of sexual device- whether it's a vibrator or a condom (and frankly I think 13 yo should be encouraged to break out vibrators rather than condoms).

However, having brochures and condoms AVAILABLE in the nurses office along with all the other health stuff just makes sense to me.

Posted by: Liz D | November 2, 2007 2:26 PM | Report abuse

I'm wondering why a child - CHILD - of 11 years would even want to have sex. While it happens that some young people are sexually promiscuous at those ages, we shouldn't accept it as the normal. I don't give a rat's arse what was the "norm" during medieval times. This is 2007. Sex is NOT a form of recreation for teens bored with cell phones and video games. It appears that many of the parents who purportedly are "adults" should grow up and learn how to parent.

People hsve become effing lazy today. I raised a daughter as a single parent while working full time and attending college. It wasn't easy but she grew up with a value system, a foundation of self-esteem, and knowledge about sex and the responsibilities that come with your sexuality.

It is important that young people be aware of birth control, etc., and that it is available to them. But it's more important that the adults/parents in their lives give them guidance.

Posted by: wondering | November 2, 2007 3:01 PM | Report abuse

"So all those parents of teens out there thinking "Not my kid," I think your kid would probably have some interesting things to share."

My mom thought "not my kid!!" about me ... She sent me to a good school, I was taught right from wrong as a kid, and sure enough, I didn't rebel in any particularly dangerous ways.

My best friend's mom thought "not my kid!!" about her, and she grew up without rebelling in dangerous ways.

Most of my other close friends' moms thought "not my kid!!" about them, and sure enough, same story.

Of course no parent wants to blame themselves. But it is our job to set a moral compass for our kids, to follow it OURSELVES, and to put them on the proper path in life. Some are too lazy or busy to do this, and the ensuing results should surprise nobody. Some parents DO this, and their kids rebel anyway - but I personally believe this is faaaar more the exception than the rule. Statements like Rebecca's by and large are apologies for bad parenting that seek to undermine GOOD parenting and bring GOOD parents down to the level of the bad and mediocre ones.

Posted by: Used to be a kid ... | November 2, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Oh yeah, and I used to be a kid not particularly long ago, so please don't go pegging me as some stodgy old person talking about "the good old days." I still get carded most of the time :P

Posted by: Used to be a kid ... | November 2, 2007 3:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm not certain that an 11- or 12-year old girl could be counted on to use the pill effectively, but maybe the patch would be better.
I cannot figure out how denying access to contraception discourages sex. Do you think adolescents all over the country find themselves in a situation where they have privacy and a willing partner, and then say "Wow, I would love to have sex but I don't have a condom! Oh well, maybe we'll go to the movies!"
Yes, it would be GREAT if parents took the lead, young teens weren't sexually active, yada yada yada. But it's irresponsible to turn our backs on kids who aren't lucky enough to have parents who step up to the plate. Not to mention cost-inefficient.

Posted by: angelaA | November 2, 2007 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Why would people think an 11 yo isn't thinking about sex? That's about the prime time for girls to really start getting their sex hormones revved. Fantasies and masturbation and all that are definitely in full swing by high school- and that's at 13.

That's half the problem- DENYING that it's happening at all, that these people ARE sexually curious.

Posted by: Liz D | November 2, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

to wondering: I thought the same thing until I spoke to a friend who is a middle school counselor. In her school population (Rt 1 Corridor, Price William County), sexual activity among girls is tied to perceived social acceptance - they think it's the only way to be "liked" and then wonder why people gossip about them. It's a delicate balance to teach (and not preach) that self-worth comes from within.

Posted by: TNTKate | November 2, 2007 3:46 PM | Report abuse

My understanding from talking to women is that they were not interested in having sex at age 11. Sure, they were interested in boys, and getting attention from boys, but not having sex, per se.

My unscientific "study" found that they didn't have any interest in actually having sex until age 15 or so.

This fits with my own experience in school. It seemed around 10th grade was when a decent percentage of the girls were interested in sex. By senior year and especially by college, virtually all of them were.

I don't know many middle-school age kids right now, but from what I gather, there are a few who are sexually active, and they get talked about a LOT. But that most kids that age have no interest in personally becoming sexually active. This also sounds a lot like when I was in middle school. Lots and lots of talk, but very little action.

Doesn't seem like much has changed.

Posted by: Bob | November 2, 2007 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Used to be a kid - the issue isn't that most kids are basically good (like you were), but that often the parents of the ones who are problems are in denail. Are you telling me that in your high school there was no-one who the teachers or their parents thought was a normal kid, but all the kids knew was dealing drugs or sleeping around, or drinking between classes, etc.? Or ask a teacher or principal or guidance conselor about the time they called a parent with hard evidence of a problem and the parent was in denial.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | November 2, 2007 4:18 PM | Report abuse

1-Sex under age of consent, is a crime.
2-School personnel serve, prescribe and distribute contraceptives, onto children practising sex under the age of consent, and, neither inform parents nor police.

Hence, school personnel are accomplice of CRIME(S).
Why aren't they thrown into jail?

These mockeries of government make me boil.

Posted by: SouthStar | November 2, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Kids should have access to contraception but if the schools are going to provide, the schools ALSO need to inform the parents.

Posted by: LM in WI | November 2, 2007 5:10 PM | Report abuse

"1-Sex under age of consent, is a crime.
2-School personnel serve, prescribe and distribute contraceptives, onto children practising sex under the age of consent, and, neither inform parents nor police.

Hence, school personnel are accomplice of CRIME(S).
Why aren't they thrown into jail?"

--And who the hell really enforce those silly, old sex "crime" laws? Oh, that's right that one judge in Loiusanna who sentence that 17 year old kid in jail for having consenual oral sex with a 15 year old. Oh, what a crime! Thankfully, he was released last week.

To wondering: I don't know why you find it odd that 11 year olds should be interested in sex. Many females are going through purberty at that age. Sex IS a way to relieve boredom and have fun at that age if a boy and girl don't have anything better to do. It's not a shocker to me. Maybe that's because I'm almost fresh out of high school (2001) and can still remember my junior high school days. Wake up and get your head out the gutter. Denial is not going to get you anywhere.

Posted by: Soguns1 | November 2, 2007 5:40 PM | Report abuse

Schools handing out condoms? Sure, why not. We all know that some, not all, children experiment as early as middle school. Just make sure any child that requests one knows how to use it.

Schools handing out oral birth control? Absolutely not. Oral contraceptives have significant side effects and can affect the development of a girl. If a parent believes their daughter needs to be on oral birth control they should take the child to a doctor who can monitor the child's development and side effects of the pill. A school occupational nurse cannot be expected to do this.

Posted by: Kaylee | November 2, 2007 5:54 PM | Report abuse

"Are you telling me that in your high school there was no-one who the teachers or their parents thought was a normal kid, but all the kids knew was dealing drugs or sleeping around, or drinking between classes, etc.? Or ask a teacher or principal or guidance conselor about the time they called a parent with hard evidence of a problem and the parent was in denial."

Only 3. One is now a doctor (she slept around), one is a producer in NYC (stoner) and one is now a straight-laced SAHM (slept around). Then again, I didn't go to public school, so others' mileage may vary ...

Posted by: Used to be a kid ... | November 2, 2007 5:56 PM | Report abuse

How absolutely ludicrous!I taught eighth graders for 30 years. If anyone had suggested such a policy as this one in my school district, the parents would have revolted, stormed the school board meetings and then voted out the members who had the audacity to implement such a ridiculous idea for adolescents.

Posted by: drawlings | November 2, 2007 6:19 PM | Report abuse

11, 12 and 13 year-olds, in most states, cannot "consent" to sexual activity. Statistically, girls of this age who are having sex have partners who are MUCH older - sometimes adults.

Why is this not considered sex abuse? If I found out that an 11-year-old child of mine, or any child I knew, was sexually active, I would report this information to Child Protective Services.

Offering contraceptives to children under the age of consent (and in some states that age is 16) is not only becoming an accessory to a crime (statutory rape) but is also tacitly supporting the sexual abuse of young girls - often by pedophiles.

If parents, schools, etc. feel that the age of consent should be 11, then the law should be changed. Otherwise, schools should not have the ability to become accessories before or after the fact to the felony sexual battery of children and/or statutory rape.

Posted by: Amelia | November 2, 2007 7:03 PM | Report abuse

*sigh*

OK.

Yes, underage sex is a crime. However, it is ALSO a crime to KNOW that kids are acting in an unsafe manner and do nothing to prevent them from getting hurt (like setting out condoms so they have the options to not get STD's). So are you suggesting that 10% of kids be put into the system because they took "doctor" too far?

Yes, parents should parent their damn kids, and many do, but a LOT DON'T and the kids end up having sex to fill that void, or to feel pretty, or popular, or whatever else their parents didn't provide them at home. And as it's been said: sex takes less than 15 minutes. That's recess/nutrition. That's your mom running out to the store while you "do homework."

And not everyone has a healthy home life. A lot of kids would get beaten at home if they even broached the topic of sex. I fostered a girl whose mother was insanely abusive (forced her daughter to be bulimic, would pick fights with her the night before tests so she would fail, sent her daughter to school with black eyes), and it led to this 12-year-old girl shacking up with a teenage couple for a few months. This girl had sex because it made her feel loved and part of a family. Thank GOD she never caught anything.

Posted by: Kat | November 2, 2007 10:40 PM | Report abuse

The national campaign to prevent teen pregnancy came out with a study earlier this year which found, among other things that 93% of teens between 12-19 say that it is important that kids get a strong message to remain abstinent during their teen years. Sure there are kids who won't, but over all it's still an important message.
And I think we'd also do well to remember how quickly things change. It may be that 10 years ago there were still parents who thought "not my kid", but these days, I don't know any parent who isn't well aware that our kids are vulnerable to sexual temptations. And I hang out with Christian homeschoolers, so that's saying something!
I have a real problem with handing out contraceptives to middle schoolers on so many levels. First of all, a 11 year old who is sexually active primarily needs some counseling. This is simply not a normal thing to do and research has found that a child who becomes sexually active at this age usually feels co-erced (and is frequently being victemized by an older person!) and regrets it later. Sure, give the kid some condoms in the meantime, but don't let it go at that!
Also, while there are a few kids who might be responsible enough to remember to take their pill everyday at the same time, most aren't. Most kids don't even start doing everyday chores without being reminded until age 12-13, so the idea that they're going to use the pill responsibly is ridiculous.
Also, as someone above mentioned, the pill is recommended for people in stable, monogamous relationships. The idea that a 11 or 12 year old is actually in such a relationship is ridiculous as well.
So you're setting a kid up to have a false sense of security, contract an STD and continue doing something which is clearly unhealthy for her.
At the end of the day, saying that a sexually active 11 year old needs birth control is like saying a homeless person needs good walking shoes. It may well be true, but if that's the best we can do for someone in that situation, then we're piss-poor excuses for human beings.

Posted by: rebeccat | November 2, 2007 10:49 PM | Report abuse

Kat, what is TRULY a crime is to send the message to 100% of kids that it is ok to have sex just because 10% of the kids are completely screwed up and will do it anyway. You can't save everybody.

Posted by: To Kat | November 2, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

The schools can provide whatever they want, as far as I'm concerned, as long as they have parental permission. Ultimately, it's the parents' responsibility to raise the kids and to make decisions for them (until they become adults), not the school's. If parents want to sign over their responsibilities to the schools, then so be it. But if parents meet their own responsibilities, then bravo for them.

Posted by: Eric | November 2, 2007 10:53 PM | Report abuse

It is obvious from the range of comments that most people are so far away from the real issue at hand. That we really do not comprehend the responsibility and complexity of parenting; Parents should provide leadership and direction by modeling a moral lifestyle themselves, but they must direct in love, and not leave this issues in the hands of their young ones whom they are committed to love, protect, discipline (correction) and prepare them how to make the right decisions.
The whole thing about issuing pills and condoms is based on the possibility of kids having sex, making the main issue "sex", and not why are they pressured to have sex anyway. Should we then also issue drugs to our kids because there is a great possibility of them taking drugs? Maybe have clinics issuing controlled doses, with clean needles?
How about teaching our kids (at home)about love, caring, responsibility, and limits in a relationship. That there is a time and a place for everything. That there is wrong and a right. That the greater damage is not physical, but spiritual. That everything we do has consequences; whatsoever we sow we reap.
Primarily, why not tell them the truth; God is real, He exists and He loves them more, but the price of sin is death, and no pill, condom, or abortion can stop the effects that principle. That you can't hide, fool, or outsmart God.
No broken heart can be healed by a condom; or the deep pain of realizing a life is a gift and you stole it from someone, a no one has that right, only to try to cover your "mistake"; it is a crime and a sin to kill!

Posted by: Vic | November 5, 2007 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Primarily, why not tell them the truth; God is real, He exists and He loves them more, but the price of sin is death, and no pill, condom, or abortion can stop the effects that principle. That you can't hide, fool, or outsmart God.
-------

Thanks Osama, but I heard all your "72 virgins in heaven" stories before.

Posted by: Anonymous | November 5, 2007 3:14 PM | Report abuse

schools should be allowed to distriute condoms. when it comes down to it not all parents are being parents. someone needs to protect the children.
i'm sure that god (on the unlikely chance that he does exsist) would not want kids to get an STD or whatever.
people need to stop using god as an excuse.

age shouldnt be a factor - if the kids having sex than he/she needs protection.
some stupid law shouldnt be a factor either - if its consesual.

schools arent telling kids to have sex by handing out condoms. their keeping them safe - and thats more than what gods doing for them.

Posted by: Cayte | November 21, 2007 6:26 PM | Report abuse

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