When the first school-based health centers were established in the early 1970s, the question of birth control in schools has been fervently discussed by numerous interest groups: religious leaders, elected officials, and ordinary citizens.
In addition to the general treatment, the school-based health centers typically offer education and health promotion services focusing on the prevention of tobacco, drug, and alcohol use; sexually transmitted disease (STD), including HIV, infection; pregnancy; injuries; and violence (The Guttmacher Report on Public Policy, October 2000). According to the statistics, less than 2 percent of the total U.S. public schools (around 1300) have health centers, and twenty-five percent of those provide condoms and other contraceptives.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, the rates of teenage pregnancy were about 117 per 1000 in 1990, while the level has declined to about 75 per 1,000. Within the sampling of teenagers aged 15 to 19, approximately 50% report “being around” at least once. Every year almost 750,000 of the same category become pregnant.
Although numerous researchers prove the provision of contraceptives in school-based health centers does not increase rates of sexual activity among teens, the adversaries keep insisting the contrary.
There are several objections to the case of birth control in schools. Let us now take a closer look at them.
Parental versus School care
Many parents believe the provision of contraceptives is their concern, and they also prefer to be aware of the condition of their child’s health.
On the other hand, there is a law protecting those receiving treatment at school centers – such treatment is confidential. Indeed, the students should obtain written parental permission to get access to the health center, but if they do – they decide for themselves whether to tell their parents about the services they receive.
Adherents of the birth control in schools claim the service is especially useful for low-income, uninsured youth, and those who don’t have high support from their parents.
On October 17, 2007, the school board of King Middle School in Maine approved a full range of contraception available to students in grades 6 through 8 – pupils at a city middle school will be able to get birth control pills and patches at their student health center (condoms have been available to King students who have parental permission to be treated at its student health center since 2002). Birth control prescriptions are given to students undergoes a physical exam by a physician or nurse practitioner; still, the step gave rise to resentment of those believing puts young girls at risk of cancer from too early use of hormone-based contraceptives.
Ignoring people’s religious beliefs
The issue of premature sex contradicts the religious beliefs many generations of American have been brought up. Fervent followers of the spiritual teachings oppose the introduction of birth control in schools. They support the abstinence and believe students should be taught early relationships involving sexual intercourse are wrong. Again, parents that have puritanical beliefs claim their children are being induced to pay attention to the possibility of having sinful activities when they are offered contraceptives at school.
Encouraging premature sex
The most active discussions raised the issue of birth control in schools deals with the question whether it promotes early sex. Both parents and religious groups concerned with the matter, and the pressure has been brought upon the government officials as well. In a recent Associated Press poll, 49 percent said providing teens with birth control would not encourage sexual intercourse, and a virtually identical 46 percent said it would.
Still, there is no evidence the issue causes such “wishes and desires.” On the contrary, Abbey Sidebottom, M.P.H., of the Minneapolis Department of Health and Family Support states that previous research with adolescents has indicated that making contraceptives accessible does not increase sexual activity among adolescents who weren’t sexually active previously.
Still, the government officials, as well as local groups continue arguing on the need of assisting students, the conditions of rendering assistance, and the amount of doing that.
Despite the “age” of the issue concerned, the matter of birth control in schools is still undecided. The topic is being continuously discussed among various interest groups – and indeed will proceed.
Parents, governmental officials, religious groups have been influencing the development of the healthcare in schools. Opinions differ even with those who work for the school healthcare centers – but most still prefer children given a chance for healthier and safer life.
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