A news story from West Virginia caught my attention earlier this week.
According to the policies of the West Virginia Department of Education, the state cannot teach an abstinence-only curriculum; however, teachers can choose an abstinence-based model (Burdette).
This change took place because of Kristan Hawkins, the Executive Director of Students for Life of America. Hawkins reminded the Department of Education that the “rate of sexually transmitted diseases among teens is the same no matter the type of sex education those teens are learning” (Burdette). Since this is the greatest concern of abstinence-only sex ed proponents, the WV Department of Education couldn’t help but change their policies (Burdette).
Hawkins makes a very good point in this article. As the devils advocate, however, Hawkins is from a pro-life organization which doesn’t account for all of the abortions that take place as a result of an abstinence-based versus abstinence only education. I wonder what the difference in statistics really is… While the national pregnancy rate is dropping due to less sex and more contraception usage, the Department of Education cannot forget that the teen pregnancy rate in West Virginia is higher than the national average. In my opinion, the Department of Education is better off comparing the sex education implemented in other states before altering their plan based on a simple statistic from a pro-life organization.
Over in Mississippi, things are run a bit differently. A Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative is teaching a curriculum called ‘Making a Difference’: “an evidence based curriculum that talks about teen pregnancy prevention, STDs and HIV” (Clurczak). While this is a select group of students who have been given parental permission for such instruction, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Adolescent Health backs these efforts (Clurczak).
Unfortunately, while this is a renowned abstinence-only sex education program, it obviously lacks an important component: contraception. Julie Norman, the outreach coordinator for this Teen Pregnancy Prevention program shares: “Our focus is helping young people see that abstinence is the best choice for themselves… First we get into talking about [the girls’] goals and what they want to accomplish in life and then we do some brainstorming on how having sexual intercourse can affect the goals and dreams that they have” (Clurczak).
I strongly believe that there should be more options for sex education in areas such as these. In this case, there is too much pressure for teens to conform to pressured decisions made by those who consider themselves mentors and sex educators; however, this pressure is clearly biased and what they don’t realize is that they must make their own choices because they will ultimately dictate the rest of their life. Most importantly, in my opnion, sex will always be personal decision – whether to partake or not. That is not for your sex educator to decide. What do you think?
NOTE: While reading this article, keep in mind that Mississippi has the highest teen birth rate in the US as of 9 days ago (Reuters). Does this change your opinion?
Burdette, Whitney. “Business, Government Legal News from throughout WVWV Ed Dept Policy Forbids Abstinece-only Sex Education.” WV Ed Dept Policy Forbids Abstinece-only Sex Education. 11 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
Clurczak, Ellen. “Sex Education: Schools to Decide If Abstinence Enough.” Hattiesburg American. 16 Apr. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.
Reuters. “Teen Pregnancy: Mississippi Has Highest Teen Birth Rate In The U.S.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 04 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2012.