Mississippi has earned the infamous distinction of having the highest teen birth rate in America. Is anyone surprised or appalled? What is surprising and appalling is the reaction: a call for more sex education.
Seriously, how many millions of dollars must be spent to tell teens that when a penis is inserted into a vagina, pregnancy is possible? I believe we would be hard-pressed to find anyone above the age of 3 in our sexually liberated culture who doesn't already know this.
What causes pregnancy is not a mystery. If teens haven't learned at home, they certainly have learned from MTV and BET. They've learned from videos and explicit lyrics in music…
Believe me, they know.
We can talk to teens about self-esteem and the pit-falls created by teen pregnancy.
We can talk to them about condoms, the pill, diaphragms, spermicides, sponges, patches, injections, vasectomy or even having tubes tied. And, as ridiculous as that sounds, I cannot imagine 15-year-olds mature enough to consider any of their options when there's an opportunity to "do it".
I hasten to add that schools should not hand out anything to assist children in doing what they shouldn't be doing in the first place. That would be like handing out needles and crack pipes.
Besides, contraceptives carry health risks and they don't prevent the spread of AIDS.
Prevention is not in the birth control methods of choice.
Children simply need to be taught right from wrong — early and often. Sex outside marriage is a moral issue. [Morality means a code of conduct in society, how we should behave.] Why not put weight behind that message?
Why not promote that message?
It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.
We continually misdiagnose the problem in a value-less society.
Teaching biblical morality is off-limits in America. We can talk to children about intrauterine devices (IUDs) but not about God. Talk of sexual morality is more upsetting these days than the "baby mama"/"baby daddy" phenomenon (a.k.a. unmarried, uncommitted parents).
I'm unfamiliar with any religious teaching, be it Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, that condones fornication, promiscuity, and irresponsibility. Yet, the mere suggestion of sexual morality sends Americans into a tailspin.
I agree, values should be taught at home. They are. When surveyed, teens continue to say that parents most influence their decisions about sex. Unfortunately, moms with live-in boyfriends, unmarried siblings with children, and males who repeatedly "father" children with no obligations are all terrible influences.
Sexual relationships without commitment send the worst message.
I remain skeptical of the effectiveness of trying to sell abstinence as simply a "good idea" [equal to safe sex. Our children deserve to know WHY they should live moral lives… living moral lives that are led by a well-formed conscience will protect their lives and the lives of those around them.]
Strong, godly morals are the foundation of our conscience. Without a conscience, we live lawless and sexually unrestrained lives, without character or dignity.
It is our conscience that leads us to do right. This is the message that deserves our attention.
There is no way we can ignore what God has said regarding sexual behavior or anything else, and expect things to turn out OK.
[Debra Anderson has worked in the area of economic development research for over 20 years and has served as a volunteer in the Jackson, MS, public school system for over 15 years; 24 January 2009, The Clarion-Ledger, p. 9A]