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Teen Access to Birth Control: Have Attitudes Changed?

Urbanmamas_teen_girls
I remember the debate, when I was a teenager, over birth control access in Portland schools. On one hand, it's positive to prevent teen pregnancy and (in the case of barrier methods) sexually transmitted diseases. On the other hand, providing birth control in schools is a tacit encouragement of sexual activity! (A worry that research suggests is unwarranted -- studies show no increase in promiscuity among teens who have condom access and education in school.) And schools aren't in the business of parenting!

When I was a teen, as the product of a very religious family, I felt only slightly different about this than I do now. I had no need of such things -- I wasn't sexually active myself. But I recognized that my classmates were, and didn't really think that it had anything to do with whether or not they could get condoms from the health center. I was in favor of birth control, though concerned about the parenting thing. Should schools be in the role of offering such advice? My opinion was, no.

Monday's Think Out Loud discussion about birth control access in Canby shows me that, despite two decades of research and supposedly loosening social norms, the debate hasn't changed a bit. Same story, different millennium. I'm a parent now, though, and I have to say that my beliefs have changed just slightly; now I believe that putting birth control in schools has nothing to do with parenting; parenting happens at home. Parenting is the stuff that should already have affected students attitudes toward sexual behavior before they get to the point of asking for birth control. I got parented in a way that kept me chaste through high school, but at no time in the process would I have gone to my parents to request access to birth control. I did not want to talk to them about sex (still don't, honestly). The more available birth control is? The more likely teens are to use it. I don't believe it has anything to do with encouraging the activity, tacitly or overtly.

Now that you're a parent, what do you think? Have your attitudes changed?

Comments

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I think schools should offer birth control - not in the pill form, as I think that's a decision for a doctor, but definitely condoms.

Many teenagers are sexually active. I'd venture to say that a large percentage of those who are sexually active are not talking to their parents about it. Giving them a safe place to access condoms so they can practice safe sex is a practical, responsible thing to do.

I hope that my children will wait until they are adults to have sex. And if they do decide to, I also hope that we will have the type of relationship where they feel comfortable talking to me about it so that I can help them to make safe, responsible decisions. But if both of those things don't come to fruition, I would be thankful for school to be a trusted and safe place for them to access protection.

I have a teenaged daughter and she is on birth control pills. It was a decision she made with her doctor and although I know she's not having intercourse yet I suspect she engages in some sexual activity and I want her protected against pregnancy if she were to decide that. I encourage her to wait, etc but I cannot allow my fantasy or denial to keep her from protecting herself and facing an unwanted pregnancy. She has had the HPV vaccine and I try and be open and honest and try and support her so that she'll talk to me but I know that's not always possible. It's stressful.

I'm not sure that my belief about it have necessarily changed as a parent. Birth control is great, getting it to people who need it is even better. What frustrates me about the situation in Canby is that the health center is already there for kids to access medical care so why shouldn't this be included? I heard the show Monday and the argument that there are plenty of other places to go for it it town. Can't we say the same about healthcare and yet we think we need to bring that into the school? No opinion necessarily, just an observation.

What I think has changed in terms of my beliefs, more as a result of age versus parenting status, is that I think we just aren't putting enough options out there for kids to avoid sexual activity in the first place. Too many kids, boys and girls, just haven't gotten the message yet that it's okay to wait and that not waiting can ultimately result in lost opportunities down the road. That, and adoption really is a choice too. I heard more than once on the show Monday that the choices are birth control before or abortion or parenting after. But that's another topic, I guess.

I didn't hear the program. But, to have a heath center for teens and then specifically ignore what is one of the primary health concerns for teens is just silly. Weather or not teens are sexually active, their attitudes about their sexuality are developing and evolving at this age. Having condoms readily available and out in the open encourages a sense of normalcy around responsible sexual behavior and acceptance of condom use. Teens are already thinking about sex. I'm all for encouraging them to think, and talk about safer sex.

Health curriculums stress waiting and very much dissuade early sexual activity but if you look at statistics plenty (in many places the majority) of kids have sex anyway before the end of high school. That's reality.

I wouldn't consider adoption an option for my teenager but that's colored by my family's very negative experience with adoption and its ramifications.

If anything, my experience of becoming a parent has made me more convinced that teens (and everyone!) need access to reliable birth control. Having a wanted, planned-for child was difficult enough. No one should have to face pregnancy before they're ready. Like the first poster, I hope that my kids will wait until they are young adults, the way I did. I hope I'm parenting them such that they'll talk to me about it when the time comes, the way I did with my mother. But I'm not naive enough to count on that happening. School health centers with condoms are a good idea. And I agree that just because those condoms are available doesn't mean teens will go out and have sex. Heck, I knew where to buy condoms when I was 15. But I still spent my free time in my room with a book.

My teen is nearly 18 and describes herself much the way zinemama did.. books, room that sort of thing. She has, though been on the pill for two years. She dates different guys on and off and she and I both want her protected.

I wish all high schools could have a free clinic of this sort. My daughter says she is rare among her friends because the other girls aren't living with such an enlightened mother. Enlightened, me? No, just practical minded to a fault.

My son is 15 and he's had the condom talks and I made him read The Joy of Sex, too. However, he's still just at the "looking" stage with girls.

Sex is normal part of a fulfilled life as far as I'm concerned. Best to prepared.

Some teens will get pregnant without an option of birth contol, but even with this option, some teens will still get pregnant. Part of education should include how one can take steps to prevent pregnancy. A school should make this available for teens. Many parents will not bother to parent
in this area - they simply say or do nothing, feel
awkward. Teens really do not even have fully developed brains to make informed decisions. Many teens who become pregnant basically engaged in sex
from a feeling of insecurity. There is simply too
much shame and silence connected to sex still. It
would be a curse to be a baby born to a teen. Any
way to prevent this is good.

okay so im just a kid, and i am supposed to choose an arguing topic in english and i have been looking into the "encouragement of birth control" i feel like kids should have access to birth control, they should be able to buy it without their parents knowing. the main reason kids dont ask for birth control is that they are to weirded out to talk to their parents and they think it will be akward and that their parents will assume they are having sex,.i havent had sex and truth is..i want birth control just in case it ever comes time im ready and want to stay protected..doesnt mean im not going to use a condom, i just want to be 100% protected. they sell condoms to teenagers without parents, why not birth control? just because our parents tell us not to have sex, doesnt mean we are going to listen, we took in the percausions and we no the risks so its our descision..sex is a part of life, and no one can stop us from doing it, its weather you want us to be protected or not.

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