ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Life Imitates South Park

It seems that Maine has its own share of Mr. Garrisons (who in one South Park Episode teaches kindergartners how to properly use a condom). On to the story fromMaine:

Maine school to offer contraceptives

After an outbreak of pregnancies among middle school girls, education officials in this city have decided to allow allow one school's health center to make birth control pills available to girls as young as 11.

King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, including birth control pills, patches and condoms. There are no national figures on how many middle schools provide such services. Most middle schoolers range in age from 11 to 13.

"It's very rare that middle schools do this," said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care.

Portland's three middle schools reported 17 pregnancies during the last four years, not counting miscarriages or terminated pregnancies that weren't reported to the school nurse.

The Portland School Committee approved the plan, offered by city health officials, on a 7-2 vote Wednesday night. Whether the prescriptions would be offered this school year or next wasn't immediately clear.

King is the only one of the three schools with a health center, primarily because it has more students who get free or reduced-price lunch, said Lisa Belanger, who oversees Portland's student health centers.

Five of the 134 students who visited King's health center during the 2006-07 school year reported having sexual intercourse, said Amanda Rowe, lead nurse in Portland's school health centers.

Committee member Sarah Thompson, also the mother of a King eighth-grader, supported the policy, even though it made her "uncomfortable."

"I know I've done my job as a parent," Thompson said. "(But there) may be a time when she doesn't feel comfortable coming to me... (and) not all these kids have a strong parental advocate at home."

Chairman John Coyne opposed the change, saying the roles of social agencies and public schools have blurred over the years. "At some point there needs to be a clearing of the gray lines," he said.

The other "no" vote Wednesday night came from Ben Meiklejohn, who said a parental consent form, which allows students to receive any kind of treatment at the school health center, does not clearly define the services being offered.

Some opponents cited religious and health objections.

"We are dealing with children," said Diane Miller, a former school nurse said. "I am just horrified at the suggestion."

Another opponent, Peter Doyle, said he felt the proposal violated the rights of parents and puts students at risk of cancer because of hormones in the pill.

Supporters said a small number of students at King are sexually active, but they need better access to birth control.

"This isn't encouraging kids to have sex. This is about the kids who are engaging in sexually activity," Richard Veilleux said.

Condoms have been available since 2000 at King's health center. While students need parental permission to be treated there, the treatment itself is confidential under state law.

At King, birth control prescriptions will be given after a student undergoes a physical exam by a physician or nurse practitioner, Belanger.

Nationally, about one-fourth of student health centers that serve at least one grade of adolescents 11 and older dispense some form of contraception, said Mohan, whose Washington-based organization represents more than 1,700 school-based centers nationwide.
[...]
Question: at what point does facilitating statutory rape make you an accessory to the crime?

And the "they're just gonna do it anyway" argument is another form of the bigotry of low expectationsTM. High School kids are probably going to experiment with drugs & alcohol, but you don't see in-school liquor stores, head shops, or needle exchange programs - at least, not outside of San Francisco.

A few other comments:
  1. Why is it that 18 year old males volunteers for military service are considered by the Left to be "children" - incapable of making an informed decision - while at the very same time they consider 11 year olds to be capable of engaging in sexual intercourse.
  2. This has very little to do with disease prevention, since the pill is part of the program. One wonders if the condoms will come in a variety of flavors, be "ribbed for her pleasure," etc...
  3. If I lived in this school district, I would be pulling my kids out of this school; if I have to consent for my child to get his/her ears pierced, take an aspirin, etc, but don't have to consent to the distribution of a birth control pill, the district clearly is filled with adults who are clueless
Finally, I wonder what the presidential candidates think about this situation.

We know that Barack Obama actively promoted sex-ed for kindergarten when he was a state Senator in Illinois, but it'd be interesting to see what the other Lefties think about this topic.

Michelle Malkin is also covering

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (9)
Stupid Country said...

There was a documented "outbreak of pregnancies" among middle schoolers. Nothing I've read about this has included an estimate of the percentage of these pregnancies that resulted from abuse by adult men, incest and the like, as opposed to age peers. In any case, the district decided to do something about it.

You have outbreaks of pregnancy because the individuals are sexually active. I would be very reluctant to accept that Portland parents are any worse than American parents are generally at providing their kids with examples of morality, talking straight to them about abstinence, or disciplining them when they go astray. Some percentage of kids simply won't abstain.

Condoms evidently haven't been enough. Reliance on condoms as the sole means of contraception leaves the problem entirely in the hands of the boys. Boys, it's well understood, don't have the emotional maturity that girls have at 11 or 12 or 13, nor do boys have anything like the stake in the consequences for causing a pregnancy that the girl has to bear. Alternate means of contraception offer the girl greater control of the risks.

Yes, friends, even liberal moonbats would prefer to see 11 year olds abstain from sexual intercourse. But 11 year olds are children, and some of them will make childish decisions, including tuning out abstinence messages -- messages that in this society they may not even notice amid the ubiquitous entertainment and advertising that, sometimes subtly, sometimes crudely, sexualizes children.

All in all, I think the Portland School Committee made a very pragmatic choice.

This is what you wanted to hear from my side of the fence, right?

St Wendeler said...

SC - Actually, pretty reasonable stuff.

It is surprising that they've been giving away condoms for free and there are still an outbreak of pregnancies. I would submit that the issue here isn't availability of contraception, but rather the maturity of the individuals involved.

As you point out, 11 year olds make childish decisions. I would suggest that 11 year olds are 1) unlikely to understand the consequences of sex; 2) would be embarrassed to ask for any form of contraception from the school nurse; 3) if they're not bright enough to know how to use a free condom, it's unlikely that they'll be as consistent as they need to be with birth control pills or patches.

You mention that children "tune out" abstinences messages, but I highly doubt that the Portland Public Schools spend much time on abstinence - an interesting question to which I'd like to know the answer.

Many on the Left are not only opposed to "abstinence only" education, but also see any mention of abstinence lasting longer than 5 minutes as a slippery slope towards an abstinence only program.

Oh, and our entertainment, media, et al doesn't subtly sexualize children - it's pretty overt. From "juicy" emblazoned on the pants-bottom of a 3 year old's outfit to the toys that they play with, there's nothing subtle about it.

As ARC:Brian pointed out to me in an IM, where are the statutory rape charges? I would think that a couple of paternity investigations would do wonders to reduce the incidences of pregnancy.

Of course, it goes without saying that effective and disciplined parenting would do wonders...

Stupid Country said...

"it goes without saying that effective and disciplined parenting would do wonders..."

I seriously doubt it, or doubt that there's any sort of program warranted here to improve matters. That is unmeasurable in any case. I'm assuming this to be a pretty average community, where parenting in the aggregate is no more or less effective or disciplined than anywhere else.

I detect a negative impression on your part of Portland and its adult resident parents. Where does that come from? Why would you assume that system spends less time and effort than other systems promoting abstinence? You have something against New Englanders?

As for statutory rape charges, if we're talking about adults impregnating children, then that's a very different kettle of fish. At best, the allusion argues strongly in favor of the program, providing contraceptives to girls who need them more urgently than most of their sexually active peers. Really off the point of this controversy, though.

I will abstain...from commenting on your characterizations of "some on the Left." *shrug* I don't recognize myself there, although I would agree that abstinence-only programs are generally foolish.

St Wendeler said...

I detect a negative impression on your part of Portland and its adult resident parents. Where does that come from? Why would you assume that system spends less time and effort than other systems promoting abstinence? You have something against New Englanders?

My characterization is not against New Englanders specifically, but in parenting skills in general. I fear that the incidences of pregnancies in this middle school are only slightly better (ie lower) than in the country in general. What made news is that this school decided that condom distribution wasn't sufficient enough and decided to start handing out a swingers' sex kit to 11 year olds.

Again, we've gone beyond protecting the public health against spread of STDs and into dispensing drugs to children without the knowledge of the parents.

And, with regard to the boys that are involved, I again would suggest that a finding of paternity would greatly reduce incidences in the future.

St Wendeler said...

Interesting info from this site:

Maine does not specify any particular age that an actor has to be to commit gross sexual assault. Anyone commits this crime when he has sexual intercourse with a person who has not attained age 14. Gross sexual assault is punishable by up to 40 years' imprisonment.

I question the validity of this interpretation of Maine's AOC statutes, but interesting if accurate.

Stupid Country said...

Your characterization of this as a "swinger's sex kit" is inflammatory and completely misses the point of the program. I thought you were backing off that bias. In the context of a program designed to protect children, your usage is actually a little disturbing.

And the reference to STDs is irrelevant to this discussion. STDs are a real problem, but an entirely different problem.

St Wendeler said...

RE Swingers Sex Kit - Sorry, I liked the alliteration...

some questions:

Question 1) Is it okay for 11 year olds be having sex?

Question 2) as a parent, would you condone the school giving your child prescription medication without your consent or knowledge (before or after)?

Question 3) if an 11 year old is pregnant, should there be an active effort to determine the paternity (since the pregnancy is possibly the result of a criminal act - the definition of which varies from state to state)?

Stupid Country said...

I think this thread has spilled over into areas that are not germane to your original post. But what the hell....

Question 1) Is it okay for 11 year olds be having sex?

What do you expect me to say to this? Of course it's a very bad idea. The problem is, there are some who are having sex, as evidenced by the pregnancies. No one connected with the Portland program has ever suggested its purpose was to make it ok for 11 year olds to have sex. This is a basic problem among social conservatives -- inability to distinguish between intent to deal with a problem and value judgment on the behavior that causes the problem. The distinction matters.

Question 2) as a parent, would you condone the school giving your child prescription medication without your consent or knowledge (before or after)?

This is a case where the school would be addressing a valid public health concern. The medication is one a girl might decidedly need but have a major problem asking for parental consent to get it. If my daughter were sexually active at 11, I would consider prevention of pregnancy an essential good. No, generally I would want a say in my kid's receiving Rx medicines, but I would consider all of the foregoing sufficient extenuating circumstances to make the prescription worth overcoming my concerns as a parent about consent. I'd rather be in the dark about this than have to deal with a pregnant middle schooler and the knowledge that the issue could have been averted through a simple measure like this.

(I do wonder how I would feel if I were, say, an orthodox Christian Science believer, but followers of that faith have a long history of conflict with public health policy, and I always sympathize with the public health authorities in those cases.)

Question 3) if an 11 year old is pregnant, should there be an active effort to determine the paternity (since the pregnancy is possibly the result of a criminal act - the definition of which varies from state to state)?

Sure, I'd probably insist on it. I'd feel legally entitled to it. But I'd expect to pay for it. Who's suggesting otherwise? I still don't quite get what this has to do with the Portland story, unless you're still suggesting that adult pedophiles and 11 year old boys would quit impregnating girls if they just got punished harshly enough for it. The punishment's probably warranted, but if you really believe it would have a significant deterrent effect on a problem like this, you're dreaming.

George said...

I heard this morning on the TV news that a recall effort is being mounted against members of the Portland school board who voted in favor of that "program."