Straight talk is needed to lower Franklin’ s teen-pregnancy rate

Published 4:54 pm Saturday, November 29, 2008

Franklin has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates per capita in the state of Virginia. Accidents happen; we all know this. The rate that they happen in Franklin, though, you’d swear it’s by more than just chance.

Some people would like to blame the school system, but that can’t be the case. The school is not to be held accountable for its students’ actions away from campus. That doesn’t mean the schools can’t play a part in the solution.

A new curriculum is being put in place so that the schools can, hopefully, better equip students to deal with the pressures of their peers and the media when it comes to sex. There will be a committee that will include physical-education teachers from the schools, parents and health department officials to review and modify the syllabus for the sex-education classes as needed so that they meet the requirements of the state Standards of Learning.

This is, by all means, a good idea, but perhaps the sex-ed classes should do more than just cover the basics. After a certain age, we all learn where babies come from. Let’s round that age to about 12.

Pulling all the girls in a room and showing them charts and pictures and warning them of what can happen if they “do the deed” is not going to do the trick. There needs to be an open forum for the girls and the guys to ask their questions and have actual answers given to them.

Not everyone is going to go looking for somebody to ask the tough questions to. In sex-education class, we found that we couldn’t really get answers from our teacher even if we asked a question because our questions were out of the spectrum of the state syllabus. If the schools want to do their part to help, they need to think about that.

Parents play a role, too. How many parents today actually give their kids “the birds and the bees” talk? Most parents preach abstinence and nothing else.

It’s pretty much a sure thing: You tell a person they can’t do something, and they’re going to want to do it all the more. It shouldn’t be a threat or a rule. There needs to be an open flow of communication between parents and their children so that questions and concerns can be asked without fear of a three-hour lecture about why sex is bad.

Parents, don’t be wardens or supervisors. Be parents, love your kids, talk to them and let them know they can come to you with anything, anytime they need.

The true people to blame for the teen-pregnancy rate are the teens. Face it, it’s their own fault. Teenagers don’t think about the consequences of their actions. It’s all about instant gratification.

Teenagers may not be kids and definitely not adults, but common sense has to be in their brains somewhere. Anyone can get pregnant at any time, and some type of preventive measure needs to be taken every time. The “it won’t happen to me” mentality has got to go.

Of course, peer pressure has something to do with it; if one person is doing it, then everybody has to. As a teenager who’s been through high school and seen what can happen, I’ve got to say to all the teenage girls who are thinking about it: You can’t let other people govern your life.

As my grandmother once told me, teenagers were having sex when she was one, and they’re going to continue doing it. The only thing that has changed over the years is that now people seem to accept getting pregnant at 15 or 16 as normal. It’s not.

Does it always end badly? No, some people continue to go to school, get degrees and make something of themselves. But there are too many bad statistics.

Don’t be stupid. If you decide you want to have sex, there’s this place called the health department. It’s a magical place; please go visit.