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Act Now To Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Act Now To Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Even though more than 90 percent of Americans support teaching comprehensive sex education in high schools, the federal government, under the Bush Administration, funneled over 1 billion dollars into abstinence-only education programs.  Three separate funding streams supported abstinence-only programs, including the 1996 Welfare Reform Act, the Adolescent Family Life Programs Act (AFLA) and the Community-Based Abstinence Education Act.  Any program receiving funds through these sources was prohibited from discussing the health benefits of contraceptives, even if the information was geared toward disease prevention rather than pregnancy prevention.  In contrast to the billion dollars spent supporting abstinence-only programs, not a single cent went towards funding comprehensive sex-education programs.   

Despite reports condemning the programs as total failures, federal funding for abstinence-only programs continued.  The most recent studies show the clear effect of these funding choices: for the first time in fifteen years teen pregnancy rates in the United States are on the rise.  Youth health advocates credit a cutback in funding for those programs advocating policies other than abstinence-only as contributing to the sharp increase in teenage pregnancies.  Instead of providing teens with important information and health care options, the Bush administration policies restricted access to birth control and related health services.  The results are undeniable.  The results are tragic.

In an attempt to remedy the effects of poor funding choices based on religious preference in lieu of scientific evidence, Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) are sponsoring the Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act.  The REAL Act would provide federal money to support responsible, comprehensive sex education in public schools.  The money would not eliminate teaching abstinence as the only certain way to prevent pregnancy or sexually-transmitted disease.  Rather, the REAL Act would require abstinence education be coupled with age-appropriate and medically accurate information about the all methods of pregnancy and disease prevention. 

Currently more than 125 national and state organizations support the REAL Act, including faith-based, family planning, educational, and medical rights organizations.  With national health care reform on the minds of most Americans, and a nominee for Surgeon General who, by all indications, would support such a move, the time is now to enact comprehensive federal sex education to prevent unwanted teenage pregnancy and sexually-transmitted disease.  Click here and urge your members of Congress to support this vital bill.

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photo courtesy of mahalie via Flickr.

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34 comments

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6:15AM PDT on Jul 27, 2009

Our hard earned money should not go to anyone to prevent pregnancy. How about telling them to keep their panties on and zippers zipped? Take some responsibility. If they can't do that, take the birth control bill, get a hysterectomy or sterilized. It is not our place to pay and babysit them. I have seen girls go to the health department, get bags of birth control items, and as soon as they get out to the street, throw the bag in the garbage bag. They WANT to get pregnant, get more government that way rather than not having children. Give me a break.

4:03PM PDT on Jul 26, 2009

Sorry, I meant It makes kids go "if condoms are NOT going to be effective anyway..."

4:01PM PDT on Jul 26, 2009

Good. I hope the US Govt. will spend tax dollars more wisely now then they did during the Bushit era. Abstinence only does not work. To teach that it is the only effective method makes kids go "Ok, so if condoms are going to be effective anyway, then I won't bother using them, because sex is better without them anyway."

According to the CDC and the Guttmacher Institute: "The state of America's sexual health continues to falter. Each year, 19 million new sexually transmitted infections (STIs) diagnosed; there are three million unintended pregnancies; and over one billion acts of unprotected sex. Nearly 31 percent of teen girls will be pregnant at least once before age 20(4), and there are over 750,000 teen pregnancies each year"

4:51PM PDT on Jul 25, 2009

I guess it's the same in closed community or open one
the problem seems to be circled about the parents trust open relation with their children growing to be teen agers

no religion , no rules , no education can mend the broken
connection between a child and his parents if they are not there
for him , if they can't talk together on a foundation of trust and honesty with lots of love and huge impact of caring.

9:05AM PDT on Jul 24, 2009

I know it was meant as sarcastic, but the self-irony of it couldn't go without comment. I want to pay less tax, and the more that decisions are localized rather than made at the federal level by huge, expensive and wasteful agencies, the less tax I'm likely to pay. And the more responsive services will be to the local communities.

7:09AM PDT on Jul 24, 2009

Jeff W.:

"Why have the federal gov't fund any education?"

This statement was meant to be sarcastic. My sentence got cut off and scrambled, but my point was why fund any education at all, including math, history, etc.? Teaching comprehensive sex education saves lives and billions of dollars that we would otherwise have to pay for with more taxes. Do you want to pay more taxes Jeff?

6:46AM PDT on Jul 24, 2009

Carol H,
Everything you said is "ditto" for me, as for how I was raised anyway. But trust me, I STILL FOUND A WAY TO HAVE SEX! It's not that kids have too much freedom, it's a lack of communication between parents and kids. There was no open communication between my parents and myself. They tried the "do as I say or else" thing with me and my sisters and it only made us want to push back as hard as we could. Parents (yes, parents) need to teach their kids how to make good decisions. I definitly understand that many parents don't feel capable, especially in the sex ed area. Therefor, I do feel the schools play an important role in picking up the slack. Honestly, the high school that I attended had a great sex ed program. Unfortunately though, they caught us all a little too late. Senior year is not the time to finally educate kids on safe sex. I was lucky enough to have a close friend who DID have good communication with her mother. Without her, I probably would have been just another pregnant statistic.

9:31PM PDT on Jul 23, 2009

"Why have the federal gov't fund any education?"

My point exactly. It never should have been considered the roll of the federal government.

8:45PM PDT on Jul 23, 2009

Both girls and boys need to receive "sex education"--with emphasis on prevention of pregnancy and stds. Since many parents do not effectively provide this information (as evidenced by the teen pregnancy rate), the information must be provided by the schools.

7:52PM PDT on Jul 23, 2009

I think that it is important for young girls and boys to be taught at school the risks of having sex, because sometimes it is difficult for parents to explain things properly to them. And also because culture come into place even though it is something that it is natural. I don't find it bad that schools teach kids the facts of life. It just so happen that I went to a private school in my teen years and we were taught everything that we need it to know about the reproductive system and all the diseases that you could get when having unprotected sex.

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