In my current crop of seniors I have three visibly pregnant students. This is par for the course, not only for my classes but for the other senior English teachers as well. On our campus we have a fully functional nursery with certified staff attached. I’m sure I teach another two or three girls with babies there. As depressing as this may seem, when I look across the hall to my co-worker’s freshmen (ninth grade) class I see almost the same amount of pregnant little girls. Did I mention the perpetual waiting list for the nursery? How about the fact that none of the teachers’ children can stay because too many students have kids there?
Texas has one of the highest teenage birth rate in America. In 2008, the last time comprehensive statistics were compiled sixty-three girls out of every one thousand had babies between the ages fifteen to nineteen. By contrast, the rest of the nation sat at around forty-one per thousand. This wave of underage mothers strains the social safety nets. Later, when these kids enter the work force they usually occupy the lower paying jobs due to the mammoth challenges young mothers face in completing school. This becomes an ever present cycle that perpetuates even more teen pregnancies and strains social services further.
A recent study highlighted his tragedy in Texas and other states that mandate abstinence only programs. The Center for Disease Control released a study showing a clear difference between the states that offer comprehensive sex education and the others who restrict education down to the abstinence only level. The vast differences were shocking. Yet, even in the face of epidemic teenage pregnancies these states and their leaders continue to place ideology above reality. This goes beyond the obvious problem of teenage moms. Children born to underage parents tend to have more birth and early life complications, resulting in poorer health, soaring costs (which teen moms can almost never afford) and at times death. How can proponents of abstinence only support a program that leads to more poverty, more taxpayer money, and more deaths of children?
We do not have time to let ideology trump ideas. Ignore the moronically hyperbolic lies about kindergarten sex classes; age appropriate education is a necessity. Kids are having sex and having kids. Just because we refuse to educate them properly does not mean they do not learn; they just learn all the wrong ways from all the wrong people. We as a nation must ask ourselves: Do we want to solve the problem, or do we want to just win the argument? We must also ask ourselves: When it is ever wise to embark on a challenge with no knowledge of what you will face? In an ideal world kids would not be having kids. In this same world clouds would be stuffed with hundreds and it would only rain over my house. However, the last time it rained I got wet, not rich. Life’s a challenge, and sex is a complicated part of human life. Like any good general, we must make sure our charges are equipped with all they need to fight this immense battle.