While some feel that abstinence only programs will not, cannot and do not work, One Life One Choice states that pregnancy rates have actually declined in Bradley County as a result of these programs.
One Life, One Choice is a youth development program based in Cleveland, Tennessee, whose funding has also been cut and are trying to find another source of funding. They don't just focus on abstinence only teaching; they are a support group and provide students with community service and leadership programs. According to Sarah Brown, Chief Executive of the nonpartisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, these are the types of programs that would actually help curb teen pregnancies. "The real good ones engage teens by discussing issues relevant in their school culture...for girls, particularly effective programs combine sex education with general health issues, schoolwork assistance, and a push for participation in sports or the performing arts, with the goal of getting students to plan for their future."
While no statistics were available for the years 2009 and 2010, the TN Department of Health (http://health.state.tn.us/statistics/vital.htm) shows a different story for years past. In 2002, adolescent pregnancies for all races in Bradley County for girls between the ages of 15-19 stood at 198. This number toggled up and down by 30 or 40 each year until 2005. In 2006 and 2007, the numbers didn't differ by more than 10. The last recorded statistics given to The People News actually showed an increase of approximately 16 pregnancies from 2007 to 2008.
In a story done by the Today Show and TIME in 2008, then teen mom, Christen Callahan talks about a pregnancy pact made by some of the girls at her school. Seventeen girls from Gloucester, Massachusetts, conceived and were happy to hear the news, even proud. Kathleen Kingsbury, who reported on the story, stated that the young people of a town like this feel like they don't have a whole lot of options. "The kids can't see a way out; none of them have very strong life plans."
Proper physical education programs "have increased their health knowledge and skills and decreased risky behaviors." A good education, either in abstinence programs or in sexual education programs are what can help children understand the dangers of having unprotected sex with various partners.
The Advocates for Youth states, "It must be recognized that there is no 'magic solution' to teen pregnancy nor will a single intervention work for all teens. Communities should not look for immediately lower pregnancy or birth rates over a short period because the process is time-consuming, requires affirmation from young people and a serious commitment of financial resources. To reach a broad teen audience, programmers need to implement a combination of strategies and involve all key members of the community." This is a group who makes efforts to help young people "make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health."
The Advocates for Youth has a complete program strategy and principles for program implementation. These include setting clearly defined program goals and objectives, encourage community collaboration, involve youth, create activities that are age and development appropriate, offer consistent long term support, and provide information on both abstinence and contraception. They also provide preventative strategies for counselors of those teens who are at the highest risk of pregnancy.
In 2007 pregnancy rates rose 3% after a 14 year decline in numbers across the United States. According to Healthcommunities.com, a site developed and run by physicians, teen pregnancy rates stay high and about 1 million girls become pregnant each year in the United States, with about 25% of those girls having a second child within two years.
Pregnancy isn't the only issue to raise many concerns. "Each year, approximately 3 million cases of STDs occur among teenagers and approximately 860,000 teenagers become pregnant. It has been estimated that at least half of all new HIV infections are among individuals under the age of 25," writes The Council of Chief State School Officers (www.ccsso.org).
Shouldn't sexual education begin first and foremost, in the home? Many adolescents today say they never had any discussion about sexuality with their parents or a family member to help understand what is taking place in society. By the time they can find someone to discuss matters with, it's too late.
Mixed emotions run rampant when it comes to sexual education in schools, but as we prepare our children for the real world, shouldn't that include every aspect of it?