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My local paper ran a story this weekend that may have been buried, and so I'd like to bring it to light. You may recall how the King Middle School in Portland, Maine, had instituted a program to provided contraceptives to some of its students, that was turned into a media circus by the national right-wing talk show industry. I'll remind you of the coverage provided by ejp in maine here.

As the AP reports:

For all the media firestorm surrounding the decision to make prescription contraceptives available at King Middle School, only one girl has used the service in the six months since the program began, officials say.

Last fall, administrators said they anticipated only a handful of older middle schoolers would use the service, even though it was open to all students enrolled in the clinic, including those as young as 11.

There's more:

As of Thursday, the six-month anniversary of the School Committee vote that implemented the program, the only student to obtain a prescription for contraceptives was a 14-year-old girl, the city reported in response to a Freedom of Access request from the AP.

Imagine that. What should be obvious from this is that the noise machine will use anything to further its cause, and then not bother to revisit that what they combated. But be heartened by this:

Last fall, 169 out of the 500 students had permission to use the clinic. After the policy change, parents were required to re-enroll their kids. As of Thursday, there were 163 students enrolled in the clinic, said Douglas Gardner, director of the city's Health and Human Services Department.

Just six children were dropped from the program. I want to make clear that I fully support those parents that thought it necesary to withdraw their children access to the clinic, even if I don't agree with their decision. But I commend those that saw no reason to withdraw their children - kudos to them.

What is really sad - and telling - about this is that the AP provided the follow-up, not the local media that are better able to understand the nuance. Of course, the AP was likely looking for more titillation to spread, but at least they put this on the wire anyway.

Originally posted to Dirigo Blue on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 03:28 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Still, (0+ / 0-)

    the very idea of providing contraceptives to young girls without the consent of their parents is appalling.  If they want them for their daughters, they should get them themselves.
       School officiials have an obligation to report suspected crimes including -- gasp! -- statutory rape.

    •  the kids are most likely (6+ / 0-)

      afraid of what their parents would say if they knew their offspring were sexually active. It's a "not really win/not really lose" situation here, but better the kids get protected than face an unwanted pregnancy.

      I'm at the junction of short, nerdy, and oddly attractive.

      by Pan Zareta on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 03:43:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly - what a great world it would be if (5+ / 0-)

        every family was like those depicted in 1950's Teevee, but this just isn't the case. What this program does is provide girls an avenue to be responsible for their own behavior.

      •  What would you (0+ / 0-)

        tell teachers/nurses who have exposed themselves to professional sanctions by not reporting a probable crime?  When I taught, we were told in no uncertain terms that we had a legal and professional (pulled license, etc) obligation to do so.

        •  Teachers are not involved in this program (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jlms qkw

          at all - it is a City sponsored clinic within a public school. Health care professionals have a thin line to tread between confidentiality of their patients and the law regarding reporting crimes. One thing that is clear to those of us that have followed the story - the contraceptives are just simply given to those that request them, but counseling is involved.

          And do not miss my important point - did you see this on The Factor today?

    •  What does access to birth control (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Spud1, jlms qkw

      have to do with statutory rape?

      That's quite a leap to make there... that rape arises from a service in middle schools for health services.

      That's like saying because I might pick up an interesting looking stick to walk with in the forest... I cause a forest fire (because sticks can be rubbed together to make fire).

      <div style="color: #a00000;"> Our... constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds. Thurgood Marshal

      by bronte17 on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 06:40:39 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  given a choice between providing (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw

      contraceptives or abortions without parental consent, contraception is cheaper.

      More to the point, remember that condoms can be purchased over the counter without age restriction, there are no US states where this isn't so. Are you accusing US retailers of aiding and abetting statutory rape?

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Mon Apr 21, 2008 at 07:37:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's difficult, but a no-brainer... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bronte17, Spud1, Heiuan, Debbie in ME, jlms qkw

    In 1972 I was 16 and one of 7 virgins in a class of 33 girls.  The rest had all been "statutorially raped" by boys of approximately the same age.

    Something in me was appalled at the original story--middle schoolers...

    But the realities of modern day sexual experience do begin at 16, 15, and yes, even 14. Girls are menstruating earlier now. From Family.com:

    On average, American girls get their periods at 12, and many start at 9, 10, or 11. What do they need to know? What if they aren't interested? Before She Gets Her Period will help parents talk to their kids. The first chapter is excerpted here.

    For more information on the book, click here.

    If your daughter is eight, she's old enough for the talks to begin.

    Chapter 1

    Mothers need to begin conversations about maturation, changing bodies, and menstruation when daughters are around eight years old. "But, why so young?" I am often asked. Daughters this age are still little girls. If your daughter's body has not begun to mature, it is difficult to believe that you need to get ready to talk with her. It is hard to imagine that her body will be mature anytime soon or that she will need to know anything about menstruation for many years to come. Yet, if she is between eight and ten years of age, her body is already beginning to mature. A hormone from her pituitary gland is being released into her blood supply while she sleeps. This process of physical maturity begins with internal changes before you notice any external differences. Before you know it, your little girl will reach puberty.

    In the United States, children have been growing larger and maturing earlier since the beginning of the 1900s. In the past one hundred years, the average age of a girl's first menstrual cycle has decreased from approximately fourteen years to an average of twelve years. Currently some girls as young as nine or ten begin their normal menstrual cycle. Even though boys do not have such an outward sign of sexual maturity as menstruation, it is reasonable to assume that boys are also reaching their sexual maturity earlier than previous generations.

    This is the first I've run across where the idea that boys are ALSO maturing sexually at a younger age has been broached.

    In the best of all possible worlds parents are positive guides to their children in this matter. But the reality is that kids are becoming sexually active earlier. And worse than early sexual experience is early pregnancy and early abortion.  I had friends who went through it, and it wasn't pretty.

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