The national furor over a controversial decision to hand out birth control pills to 11- and 12-year-old girls in Maine without their parents’ consent has hopefully sent a message to other school systems around the country: Don’t even think about it. Not only is this an outrageous violation of parental rights, it’s bad education policy.
Apologists for the values-free, they’re-gonna-do-it-anywayapproach to sex education will have a hard time explaining what happened at King Middle School in Portland, which has been handing out free condoms — and not telling parents — since 2000. Such enlightened access to birth control is supposed to reduce the number of teenage pregnancies.
Only that didn’t happen. Despite easily available contraceptives, Portland’s three middle schools reported 17 pregnancies — not counting abortions — during the last four years. Hence the Portland School Committee’s 7-2 vote last week to make the Pill available to girls just entering puberty.
Sexually active teens are 60 percent more likely to be expelled and 50 percent more likely to drop out of high school, according to a Heritage Foundation study. It’s beyond bizarre for public school officials to aid and abet premature sexual activity that’s practically guaranteed to derail their students’ academic careers.
And because having the misfortune to be born to an unwed teenage mother is one of the clearest predictors of poverty and all its attendant social ills — including poor school performance, drug addiction and incarceration — Portland school officials are using tax dollars to help create a new generation of at-risk children.
There’s another reason why this policy should not be duplicated elsewhere. Recent studies confirm that many young girls are seduced and sexually abused by older boys and adult males. It’s a lot easier to cover up such abuse when the girl’s parents are deliberately kept out of the loop.
Dr. Barbara Martin, a consultant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s violence-prevention division, warns parents that the 18 percent of middle-school girls with boyfriends at least two years older are three times more likely to be sexually active by ninth grade than their peers. Parents need to be aware of the grave dangers that too-early sex poses to their young daughters’ physical, emotional and academicwell-being and supervise them accordingly.
It’s a tough enough job keeping young children safe in this sex-saturated society. Public schools that sneak contraceptives to 11-year-olds behind their parents’ backs are no longer partners in this important endeavor, but rather a big part of the problem.
Voice your opinion and vote in our poll at examiNation SF: How do you feel about schools handing out birth control to kids without parental consent?