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Let's Talk About Sex

New London High School students have an alarmingly high rate of teen pregnancies and STDs so the school took a controversial step to deal with it.

I was watching the news the other night when a story caught my interest. runs a health clinic and on March 1, they will be able to offer condoms and prescription birth control to students. The story was accompanied by interviews with parents of students and the majority was in favor of the new service.

I am the mother of two teenage girls and over the years the has evolved into the necessity to use birth control and safe sex. I believe preaching abstinence is unrealistic, I have taught them that sex is part of a loving relationship and not something you should ever be coerced into. While I do not expect them to wait until marriage, I do expect them to wait until they are mature and in love. We have raised them to respect their body and expect others to do the same.

So how would I feel if they offered a similar service at ? I actually think all high schools should do it. Yes you can go to the or and buy condoms, but how many teens have access to a car to do so? 

They can go to Planned Parenthood to get free condoms and counseling, but have you ever passed a Planned Parenthood clinic? Most of the time they have pro-life protesters outside, I think this would scare off many teens from trying to enter.

School-based clinics have been offering birth control services in Windham and Hartford schools for eight years. Nurses in these clinics can educate students on safe sex and discuss whether the student is ready for that kind of relationship. As with the New London clinic, parents are given the opportunity to refuse their child services at the clinic.

According to the Center for Disease Control, teen pregnancy rates have been declining for the last few years, however, they are still up to nine times higher than in other developed nations. They also show that 46 percent of high school students have had sex; only 38 percent of them used a condom. Of the 19 million new STD infections last year, almost half of the diagnoses were in people aged 15 to 24 years old.

I find those statistics shocking. Have people forgotten to warn their kids about HIV and other STDs? They are treatable, but some are not curable so why not make sure our children are educated and protected?

RONALD M GOLDWYN January 16, 2012 at 11:45 AM
Why only moms? I thought it takes a man to produce a baby also. Does not a boy have to be educated also? Where does morality insert itself? This article omits some very important points of discussion as the male gender is more than a sperm donar.
Jenn McCulloch January 16, 2012 at 02:09 PM
I don't think this is aimed only at moms. Doreen simply points out that she is a mom to two girls and that is where her experience comes from. The school is offering condoms and BC pills, giving both boys and girls the opportunity to make safe decisions. I think everyone (boys and girls) should be well informed and know their options should they choose to have sex and that it is the responsibility of both parents to convey those messages. It's even more important now with shows such as Teen Mom that are turning 16-year-olds who have had babies into a kind of celebrity. And back to the question, I wouldn't object to my child's school offering birth control. I hope when the time comes that they feel they need it, they are able to come to me and have a mature discussion, but I also know that if for some reason they aren't comfortable with that, I would be happy to know they have another option and someone to support them and help them make informed decisions.
RONALD M GOLDWYN January 16, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Dear Jenn, My comment was mainly directed to the final paragraph and the organization listed there. You comment are very appropiate and I agree with you. Yes we should give out condoms, but that is the wrong message to be teaching. Both genders should be taught that sexual activity is wrong at their age. We now read that girls as young as 8 years old have been reaching puberty, but should such a child become pregnant the baby's father will be going to jail for a long time and the lives of two families will be ruined. So the question is asked just when do we start teaching about sex? Is it in elementary school, middle school of high school. 50 years ago a young boy had to get up the courage just ask the druggist for a box of condums or for a jock strap. Girls were also in similar positions with sanitary napkins coming in plain wrappers and no BC devices available for them. Is our morality going in the right direction? Drinking, smoking and driving for teens have become more difficult, so why has sex become easier?
Michelle Petroccio January 16, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Mr. Goldwyn, that is why this is an opinion column, and we are all entitled to ours, including you. Ther are programs in place at the higher elementary levels and middle school levels relating to tobacco, alcohol and drug useage that outline the do's and don't's, including documentation of the perils involved. They include scientific documentation, facts and inter-active exercises and discussions. The instructors are usually public servants such as Police Officers and Firefighters, and School Nurses, etc. as well as including those ceryified teachers in the Health and PE fields. Eat Haven used to have a D.A.R.E. Program up until 3 years ago, which is now in the process of being reinstituted into our school system. My two oldest teenaged sons participated in the program during the 5th grade, and it was very informative and rewarding. Hopefully, this program will be afforded to the kids who have missed in that are currently in the 6th and 7th grades in our system.
Harry Balzonia January 16, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Ok, so the school can give out birth control yet a student for EH was suspended for giving a friend Tylenol for his headache. Talk about hypocrisy.
Michelle Petroccio January 16, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Doreen, I wholeheartedly agree with you on all the points in this article. I too am at the controvesial stepping point with two teens (boys), a tween-ager (almost 13 y/o daughter) and a pre teen son. They have all had 'the talk' at school regarding puberty and it's changes to your body. A note was sent home in the 5th grade requesting parental permission for them to attend this with the school nurse. My two oldest boys are 14 & 16, and know far well the ramifications that can come from having sex including pregnancy and STD's. My husband and are are fortunate enough to have the kind of relationship with our children where we can discuss things openly and candidly with them. Hopefully, if pre marital sex comes into play, they'll be smart enough to use precautions, and mature enough to know when the time is right, and they are ready to handle the reponsibility, and be in love, not just 'do it' because peers have engaged in the act, and they will be respectful enough not to cooerce a girl into something she isn't ready to do. I find that most of the kids at the high school my oldest attends are abstaining for many reasons, including the security of thier futures, and not being tied to an unwanted child, and putting road blocks in the way of theirs or a girl's future. My daughter on the other hand will most likely abstain because she has already set herself goals in life, and having three brothers can really sway you away from boys!
Michelle Petroccio January 16, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Not hypocrasy here Harry. It is clearly outlined in the policy that no student is allowed to carry these items, they can be mistaken for illegal or prescription drugs. Any time my kids have a headache, they go to the school nurse, and I go up to the school and administer the tylenol or advil myself. That is allowed. Any prescription meds that need to be administered must be accompanied by a note from the students' PC, and must be in a separate container for school use, which your pharmacy will provide with a request from the PC accompanying the prescription. This is a safeguard to protect our children. What if that tylenol container had something else othe than tylenol in it? What if some wise guy kid slipped another student some type of hallucenogenic, amphetamine, sleep aid or sedative?
RONALD M GOLDWYN January 16, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Dear Ms Petroccio, In Milford, I am very active with Freemasonry and in particular with Orange Lodge #143. This year we gave a sizable contribution to the Orange Police Dept.'s DARE program just to make up the cuts made by the local government. Also in Milford, my youngest grandson, who is now a high school senior has been serving as the student member of a city commission whose task is to regulate student tobacco, alcohol and drug use, From the reports that I have heard, his opinions are given proper respect by the adults on this board. I'm proud of him.
Michelle Petroccio January 16, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Mr. Goldwyn, these are amirable things to be proud of. Conrats to your grandson.
Kevin Currie January 17, 2012 at 12:14 AM
The statement that "Yes we should give out condoms, but that is the wrong message to be teaching. Both genders should be taught that sexual activity is wrong at their age" is purely your opinion. I happen to disagree with it but respect your right to have it. We can debate opinions all day with no consequence to anyone, but when it comes to legislating issues such as the one raised by the column, opinion should take a back seat to facts. Opinion is subjective, but facts are absolute. We can all have different views on whether kids of various ages should or should not have access to condoms & birth control, but they are all equally valid and we have the right to follow our own choice. It is, however, a fact that unprotected sex increases the incidence of STD's and unwanted pregnancy. There is simply no debate about this. Better then, when considering whether to offer kids at school access to condoms and such, to do so based on the facts than on opinions. The problem with people pontificating about morality is that it's always THEIR morality that everyone else must adhere to. The mentality that says "I don't want my kid to have access to condoms at school so nobody else can have it either" is arrogance on a grand scale. When the school offers condoms and birth control they are not compelling them to take it, merely offering the choice. But, those who seek to prohibit access for all are forcing their standards on everyone! What gives them this right I wonder?!
Michelle Petroccio January 17, 2012 at 01:54 PM
Great points Kevin. The option here is choice and being wise to prevention and protection. The school system(s) also will not give preventative measures without parental consent; hence it becomes a family's individual choice to accept or decline. And, while it is off the beaten path, I'd just like to say that in one of the instances where a fellow student shared tylenol with another, the student chopped it up and pretended to 'snort' the powder as if it was another type of drug. Class clown suspended? I think so!
Lise Cavallaro January 17, 2012 at 02:33 PM
It seems as if all responsibility is taken away from the parents or a trusted family member. Are they educating the students before handing out birth control?
Doreen Currie January 17, 2012 at 02:39 PM
As I stated in the article "Nurses in these clinics can educate students on safe sex and discuss whether the student is ready for that kind of relationship" As for parental responsibilty " parents are given the opportunity to refuse their child services at the clinic." I think if parents have not started a dialogue about relationships, sex and being responsible before their kid hits high school, they have failed at being a parent.
Lise Cavallaro January 17, 2012 at 04:22 PM
Well, luckily I haven't failed at being a parent. I don't think it is the school's responsibility to hand out birth control. Education regarding sex and birth control, yes.
Michelle Petroccio January 17, 2012 at 10:53 PM
As far as I understand, the birth control methods are not distributed to the students under 18 without parental compliance and consent.
Simon Smith January 18, 2012 at 02:54 AM
The emotional impact of discovering that you have STD can outweigh the physical health issues one has to deal with. Go to H-Date.net to find support and other singles with STD in your area!
Amy January 18, 2012 at 02:55 AM
As a teenager, this is actually a fantastic idea. To put it bluntly, we're all horny, so to give out condoms & birth control is a great idea because we're going to have sex with or without protection. It's better with than without, I'm sure you'd agree.
jeff January 18, 2012 at 12:15 PM
I think what's important -is to educate teens about disease,the hazards of taking the pill,and that condoms can break.It's important that females insist on their guy(s) putting a condom on no matter what.They really do control how things will turn out.No is still no.It's also important for females to realize- there's no going back,and there's very little future for a "teen mom" them's the facts! If you think your old enough to have sex,be responsible- go to the pharmacy and get protection.Don't become a statistic....
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead January 18, 2012 at 12:19 PM
What is the role of our school's today? In the "old days" children were provided an academic education. it was primarily about teaching the "Three R's." Today, schools have become a surrogate homes for children. Teachers have become surrogate parents for children. The school's themselves have become "reeducation centers" where the teaching of sex education is perfectly OK but saying a prayer is not allowed. School's today are places where children are taught political and social points of view from "cloistered educators" who live in a world where survival outside the classroom would be nearly impossible. Teachers allow unions to represent them rather than professional societies and Assiciations such as doctors and lawyers do. Children are bussed to school, fed free breakfast and lunch, indocrinated about sex, drugs, and all the other social ills of society yet leave school barely able to "read, write or do arithmetic!" Amazingly enough, some kids do well inspite of what schools have become, that is, "a social experiment." Isn't it time to put the responsibility of raising a child (not educating) back into the home with parents where it belongs. How has "bad parenting" become the school's problem?
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead January 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM
good point!
Michelle Petroccio January 18, 2012 at 01:15 PM
Dr. Whitehead, I agree that educating your children at home about sex is a very important part to raising them, and the academic part of Health Education belongs to the school. The biggest problem here is that there are not enough parents involved in the lives and educations of their children because they are leaving it up to someone else. A productive family environment will only aid in our kids' future successes in school and beyond as they mature into adults. Being the parents of four, even with busy lifestyles, my husband and I somehow always manage to never lose sight of what the important things are, and are consistently part of all that our kids do, in and out of school. I'm not saying we are perfect parents, but I am saying involvement is the key!
Dr. Alfred C. Whitehead January 18, 2012 at 03:36 PM
Michelle... I could not have said it better... and I fully agree. Parenting doesn't mean perfection... but it does require parents to fulfill their basic duties... as a parent. I object to schools assuming the primary parental role... or worse yet... having it thrusted upon them. You sound like a great Mom... keep up the rewarding work as a good parent. You will be blessed in more ways than you can imagine!
Michelle Petroccio January 18, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Thank you Dr. Whitehead. Although I am sure I have made some mistakes along the way, and there may be more to come, my children come first. I am already seeing some of the rewards just by the choices they make and the friends they choose to surround themselves with. They are all very individual and different at thier own paces and with interests. So far, so good. I have also been blessed with a great husband who shares in all they do, and afforded the privilidge of giving our children a two parent home, which in today's society is not always the case.
Peppy Alderman January 19, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Wow this is a tough one...I was naive as a teenager. The only things I knew about were what I learned from my girlfriends! I do not know if I would have been better or worse if this option was available to me. Maybe it would have answered some questions, or maybe it would have made me even more curious and want to things that weren't in my head before...who knows. But I do believe that having the right information is a powerful thing and if kids can get that without feeling uncomfortable then it is a good thing. If kids want to have sex, they will find a way, so it's better to be safe than sorry..For parents, just inform your kids, be there to listen and have that open relationship so they feel comfortable talking to you!

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