Teen pregnancy, pact or fiction?
Maybe we can use this nutty pregnancy pact story out of Gloucester, Mass., as a springboard for a serious look at sex education in this country. Even though the mayor and some of the teens say they had no pact to get pregnant together, that it was just a coincidence, Time magazine isn't backing down from the story yet, thought it is backing away a bit. We can quibble over whether it was preplanning or shear stupidity that gets so many teens "in trouble" as my grandmother used to say, but teen pregnancy rates have gone up for the first time in 15 years. Though it was only a slight uptick in what had been a 14-year decline in kids having kids, it could lead one to worry that having babies is a cool new accessory for neglected teens.
And the sad facts are the teen pregnancy rate is one area that the United States dominates other developed countries and Florida is No. 6 in the country. The U.S. rate is twice as high as in England or Canada, and eight times as high as the Netherlands and Japan, where they have medically accurate sex education and access to health care. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy has a good section on how to have the sex talk and face the facts that a sexually active teen has a 90 percent chance of getting pregnant if they are using no contraception.
A recent St. Petersburg Times poll found Floridians overwhelmingly favor providing students with information about sexually transmitted disease prevention and contraception over abstinence-only education. Is anyone listening?
Sharon Kennedy Wynne