Better sex education should be a family value

Despite the controversy surrounding the 17 pregnant girls at a Massachusetts high school, both sides of the political spectrum agree it’s a tragedy. There is much debate, however, on how it could have been prevented and how to deal with the recent national increase in teen pregnancy. Enter the conservatives, like the author of this blog, who equates making birth control available to “giving drowning birds water.” While the quip is cute enough, it’s a tenuous analogy at best.

Teenage pregnancies can be curtailed through birth control, and, I would argue, through more comprehensive sex education. My mantra is echoed by those left of center, but I am still amused that the so-called “family values” proponents find it to be heresy. How would preventing the birth of children into families ill-equipped to care for them be immoral? The shortcomings of abstinence only education are well documented—so much so that this post feels a bit like a broken record. But as long as teens are rebellious and promiscuous, which is unlikely to change anytime soon, it will remain true.

I really don’t care if the Massachusetts teens made a pact or not. In nine months it won’t matter how or why they conceived. You can blame the media or Hollywood or their parents, but I’m going to blame conservatives. Their fear of sex education and contraceptives is the perfect combination for teenage pregnancy. And when these kids have kids, the same conservative policies that led to their births will begrudge them welfare and discriminate against them in the workforce. And thus the cycle of poverty continues. A lack of education, a lack of resources, and an abundance of hormones later, the next generation in this tragedy faces a bleak, but not unfamiliar fate.

As scary as it may be, we have to start trusting our children. We have to tell them the truth about sex. We can’t just tell them what’s behind door number one and expect them never to go knocking on any others. And, if they make choices we don’t agree with, we shouldn’t respond by withholding information or contraceptives. Openly and passionately disagree with them, but don’t take a poor choice and make a baby out of it.