October 9, 2010 9:20:00 PM
Mississippi leads the nation in teenage pregnancy. Our Legislature is also a leader -- in keeping comprehensive sex education out of public schools.
There seems to be a connection here.
According to the nonprofit Kids Count Data Book, Mississippi had nearly 10,000 pregnancies among girls ages 15-19 in 2008, the last year records are available. Of course, it seems to be ever more common for girls under 15 to become pregnant -- ask any middle school teacher.
Even more teens contracted a sexually transmitted diseases.
Yet, remarkably, the only sex ed in Mississippi schools is a unit in health class, either nonexistent or optional until ninth grade. And the focus is on abstinence, not prevention or -- dare we say it -- contraception. Frankly, many of the teens most at risk for pregnancy and disease are already having sex by ninth grade. A few have children.
Educators we''ve spoken with in casual conversation say middle school isn''t early enough to begin educating children about what causes babies. Knowledge is power. Children are having children, in some cases, before they know what causes them.
Legislation that would bolster sex education in Mississippi schools routinely dies in the Legislature each year.
Some argue that sex education shouldn''t be taught in schools at all -- that this education belongs in the home. In principle that may be a good idea; in practice it''s simply not happening.
Some argue that we should only teach abstinence. Let''s be realistic. The sad truth is that children are having sex at an age before they fully understand the consequences. We have a duty to protect them, in this case, through education.
We need comprehensive sex education in Mississippi. It should be mandatory, and it needs to start in at least the seventh grade.
This is an ethical problem, a health problem and an economic problem. Obviously, it''s a problem that''s not going to solve itself. It''s only going to get worse, until our legislators empower our educators to help reverse this debilitating trend.
do78 commented at 10/10/2010 1:13:00 PM:
I agree. It's time for MS to stop living in the 50's. It would be nice to convince children not to have sex until they're married, however that's a very unrealistic view point.
There's a reason MS is at the top of the list for teen pregnancy. It's because we're at the bottom in education.
friendofafriend commented at 10/10/2010 2:48:00 PM:
If you take a teenager, teach them sex ed, including contraception and there's a chance they might go out and have sex. Don't teach them sex ed and tell them nothing about contraception and there's just as big a chance they might go out and have sex. The question is: do you want your child learning about contraception and VD before or after they have sex for the first time? More importantly, who do you want them to learn it from? You, working in conjunction with a licensed health education professional, or from TV, the internet, their buddies at school, and bathroom stall grafitti?
old school commented at 10/10/2010 8:42:00 PM:
Why should the school teach the kids about sex ed. Whatever happened to parents. No wait, we want the teachers to do it all. Raise the kids, try to teach displine and responsible for sex ed. Get real. Lay the blame on someone else. The American way.
jrsydevl74 commented at 10/11/2010 12:02:00 PM:
oldschool-- that's ridiculous. Parents uncomfortable with talking about sex will be the worst teachers of sex ed-- driving their kids to other sources including trial-and-error. It's not laying blame; schools can make sex ed (comprehensive, as we teach everything else) a five-day-a-week thing in a way that many parents can't, with access to resources most parents don't have. For example, the Columbus School District partnering with Baptist to teach a full-year unit on sex ed-- anatomy/physiology, self-care, masturbation, the whole nine. Political views notwithstanding, that would be highly impactful: kids get to understand their bodies and how to protect themselves from diseases and/or pregnancy from a source whose job is the human body; parents can "come off the bench" to reinforce the knowledge, possibly with help from BMH as well.
It is foolishness to wait until a child comes home wet from a downpour to teach them how/when to use an umbrella; given our state's situation, why wait until "Mom/Dad, I (am/got someone) pregnant" to teach sex ed when it can be provided to kids almost before they need it?
old school commented at 10/12/2010 8:14:00 PM:
Ridiculous. Did your parents teach you about the birds and bees. Why don't you volunteer your time and teach on sex ed. The teachers already have their hands full trying to teach without having to raise their kids. Heck, why don't you let the teachers sweep your house, wash your clothes, wash your car. Whatelse???? Its called HOME TRAINING.
friendofafriend commented at 10/14/2010 10:06:00 PM:
Yes, parents should be teaching sex ed. Parents should be teaching their children all subjects. In an ideal world, no one would have to go to school because everyone would be "trained" at home by educated parents. But unfortunately, we don't live in an ideal world. As a society, we have to ask ourselves if we want to continue to pay for undereducated unwed teenage parents to have babies who will either end up as undereducated unwed teenage parents themselves or in prison, or do we want to give EDUCATION a try and maybe break the cycle of social dependency?
1. Slimantics: Country Mouse vs. City Mouse LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Our View: All of us play a role in ensuring veterans services DISPATCH EDITORIALS
3. Editorial cartoons for 8-24-16 NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Leonard Pitts: How conservative pundits helped break reality NATIONAL COLUMNS
5. Editorial cartoon for 8-25-16 NATIONAL COLUMNS