Saturday, April 02, 2005

I'm sorry, who is it telling girls that having a baby will ruin their life?

DHHS has a web-site that is supposed to help parents be good parents. Perhaps you've heard about it, it's been in the news - wedged between bits on Terri Schiavo & the Pope. . .OK, maybe you haven't heard about it. Like every aspect of government affected by King George, it's quite biased towards life choices acceptable to religious fundamentalists without regard for those who may have differing views on life. For example, in the section about waiting [to have sex], the site advises:

"Your teen son or daughter needs to know why you don't want them to have sex now."

So far so good, you should explain your concerns why they shouldn't become (or remain) sexually active so that they understand that they too should share these concerns. Then it goes on to say:
"Tell them why waiting for sex until they are married is the healthiest choice."

They got me on this one. As I've said before, we do need to get the message across to adolescents that there's something to be said for life experiences (outside of sex) that will enhance their understanding of the world as this will greatly affect their decisions, and that it's in their best interests to wait until they have more life experience and are able to take care of themselves before facing the potential consequences of sexual intimacy. This being said, I don't agree that waiting until marriage is necessarily the healthiest choice at all, let alone a realistic one. Of course, they have an answer for those who never marry:

“Delaying sex is a healthy choice for all teens. Even if teens never marry, the values created through abstinence such as respect, responsibility and self-control will benefit their future relationships.”

That's it. No more info on discussion how to address the abstinence in case of no marriage/delayed marriage issue.

So, what does the government say you should do if your child already is sexually active? Take them to a healthcare professional for pregnancy/STI screening and tell them it's not to late to stop. [they also encourage parents to "give your teen the support, information and skills to be successful", but no advice on how to provide them with that information]

“Teen girls get infected with STDs more easily than adults. That seems strange since teens are usually in better health than adults. One reason they may be more easily infected is that they are still maturing and have less developed linings in their reproductive tract. Infections can enter and grow more easily. These infections can lead to scarring that may result in life-long problems.”

This is a very simple-minded conclusion coming from government scientists. Maybe, one of the reasons teens get infected with more STDs is because they are not using any protection when engaging in sexual activity. This is not surprising given the mixed message the web-site provides regarding use of condoms. They state (accurately) that condoms are not 100% effective, especially if used incorrectly or if they slip/break; they do not reference that correct and consistent use, especially in conjunction with a spermicide like nonoxyl-9 increases the effectiveness of condoms for both disease prevention and contraception.

"One thing we do know about abstinence is that if you practice it, you will not have an unintended pregnancy or risk catching a sexually transmitted disease."
[HHS spokesman Bill Pierce]

This also explains the disregard that some "STDs" aren't only transmitted sexually (some, such as hepatitis, can be transmitted through body fluids other than semen and contaminated food; some, such as herpes and HPV can spread through any skin-skin contact).

Catholic Online, in defending the abstinence only approach, states [emphasis added]:

“But the positive effects of delaying sexual activity is strongly defended in studies published by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation. On Sept. 21 the organization published a report entitled "Teens Who Make Virginity Pledges Have Substantially Improved Life Outcomes."

The report provides statistical evidence demonstrating that teen-agers who publicly pledge to refrain from sexual activity are less likely to experience teen pregnancy. And they will likely have fewer sexual partners.

The study cited data from the government-funded National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, showing that the behavior of adolescents who have made a virginity pledge is significantly different from that of peers who have not made a pledge. Teen-age girls who have taken a virginity pledge are one-third less likely to experience a pregnancy before age 18.

The Heritage report also observed that almost two-thirds of teens who do not make a virginity pledge are sexually active before age 18. By contrast, only 30% of teens who report having made a pledge become sexually active before age 18.

Another advantage is the reduction in children born outside marriage. The report observes that children born and raised outside marriage are seven times more likely to live in poverty than those born and raised in intact married families. As well, they are more prone to a number of social problems, ranging from crime to emotional difficulties.

Adolescent girls who make a pledge to refrain from sexual activity are substantially less likely to give birth in their teens or early 20s. By age 18, 1.8% of those who were firmly pledged had given birth, compared with 3.8% of girls who did not make a pledge.

This is not exactly something to crow about, it also does not show the applicability or efficacy of abstinence-only education/abstinence pledges to the general public (or how many of those girls who were "firmly pledged" had abortions).

By far, however, my favorite statement on the web-site is about the information you should tell your children so they abstain (until marriage) to avoid teen parenthood [emphasis added]:

"For those who become teen parents, one thing is certain - life changes for them. Many teen mothers never finish high school. Teen mothers and their babies are more likely to have health problems. And families started by teen mothers are more likely to be poor and end up on welfare."

I find this statement especially interesting as one of the arguments "Prolifers" use regarding the ways the Prochoice movement gets girls/women to abort instead of going to term to raise the child or putting a child up for adoption is to get the message out that having a baby will ruin a woman's life [emphasis added]:

"Prochoice groups tell women that they can't handle having a child on their own, they can't have child and also keep their dreams and hopes alive if they do give birth to their baby. They say that they will throw away their life if they have their baby. Then when they realize that they made a mistake with their abortion and suffer in that realization, then prochoice groups couldn't care less about them. They tell those who are suffering. They listened to you and then they realized that they really did kill their own flesh and blood, and they are suffering for that
[Posted by: Nate | March 16, 2005 11:36 PM]

“Why do women have abortions?” she’s asking. “Coercion by family or friends. Or family members who say, ‘That baby will ruin your life.’ Can you imagine picking up a baby and saying, ‘You’ll ruin somebody’s life!’ Babies don’t ruin people’s lives. Poverty ruins peoples’ lives. Lack of health care, lack of education: Those are the things that ruin people’s lives.” [Serrin Foster]

Foster, that great Feminist she is, must believe women need to be protected from themselves because they are, apparently, incapable of making decisions on their own. They abort only because others coerce them to do so.

I guess I shouldn't let any of this bother me at all since they address all the other issues you need to discuss with your teen as follows:

“Sex isn't the only topic you should talk to your teen about. Risky behaviors often go together. Kids who smoke are more likely to use drugs and drink. Kids who drink and use drugs are more likely to be sexually active. When teens were asked in a recent survey if they were drinking or using drugs the last time they had sex, 25 percent of them said "yes." Teens who drink are seven times more likely than teens who don't drink to have had sex. And teens who use drugs are five times more likely to have had sex. (25) So when you're talking about sex, also talk about other health risks like alcohol, tobacco, drugs and violence.”
Of course, what do you expect from a government that only funds abstinence-only education that teaches "facts" such as: 50% gay teen are infected with HIV, boys produce male & female sperm, and women who want to keep a partner should never act "too" smart. You should check out other "facts" taxpayer dollars are being used to teach and the information regarding the textbooks that contain them.

; ;;;

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