Originally Published in the Bellefontaine Examiner, Bellefontaine, Ohio
on Tuesday June 18th, 2002
(Even though this was originally published several years ago, the stats, facts and resources are still accurate.)
Things You Should Discuss With
Your Children About SEX!!
As the parent of a teen, a pre-teen & a pre-schooler I recently started learning about the tremendous number of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's), which threaten our youth today. The most fatal of these were not even around in "the old days" when I was a teen. There were only 2 STD's in my day and they were bacteria, which could be cured. There are now more than 25 major STD's over half of which are viral which means there are no cures. Of course we have all heard of HIV & AIDS but like most parents, until recently I had never heard of HPV (Human Papilloma Virus). There are over 5.5 million new cases of HPV annually in the US, many strains have no symptoms (so most people do not even know they are infected) and intercourse is not necessary for this virus to be spread because it is spread by genital skin contact. I was totally unnerved when I learned that 99% of cervical cancer is caused by HPV and last year more young women died from cervical cancer caused by HPV than from AIDS!!! (HPV is also linked to rectal and throat cancers.)HPV is highly contagious, condoms provide no protection and there is no cure. Where are the celebrities & telethons warning our young people about HPV?!?!?!
A recent study (July 2001) by the National Institutes of Health showed that condoms provided only 85% protection for HIV (would you fly an airline with a 15% fatality rate?), limited protection for males only for Gonorrhea and “NO CLINICAL PROOF OF EFFECTIVENESS” FOR ALL OTHER STD'S!!! You can view this report at http://www.niaid.nih.gov/dmid/stds/condomreport.pdf
With this data available, I would expect it to be taught to our kids factually & often…. but I am disappointed to say our kids are not being given this information.
It is VERY important that everyone understands the difference between “Abstinence ONLY” & “Abstinence BASED/Abstinence PLUS” education programs.“Abstinence BASED/PLUS” programs teach kids how to use condoms and birth control methods and only mention abstinence as one of many alternatives. “Abstinence ONLY” emphasizes to kids that there are not only physical risks but also psychological, emotional and social issues associated with sex outside of marriage. Both the Ohio & Federal Legal Requirements for Abstinence Education (Ohio Revised Code: Section 3313.6011 and Federal Welfare Reform Act of 1996; Section 510. of Title V) spell out in the requirements the components of Abstinence Only programs. For example, the Ohio Revised Code includes: “STD Instruction shall emphasize that abstinence from sexual activity is the only protection that is 100% effective against unwanted pregnancy, STDs and the sexual transmission of a virus that causes AIDS.It requires that the state board of education shall require that course material and instruction in STD education follow the following guidelines: 1. Stress that students should abstain from sexual activity until after marriage….”
With both state and federal guidelines being so clear, one would think that “Abstinence ONLY” is the curriculum being taught in our Logan County schools. I learned this spring, that is NOT the case.In fact I have observed some concerning presentations to our kids and have been told things like "some school districts are more liberal than others", "you can't teach Abstinence Only because that is judgmental", “we have tried abstinence only and it doesn’t work” and "because of the emphasis on Proficiency Testing it is hard to get Abstinence Education into the schools’ schedules". I was originally concerned that funding might be an issue but found out there are numerous “Abstinence Only” programs ready and waiting to be scheduled into our Logan County Schools…..FREE!!!!
Please let your local school administration and staff as well as your local and County Boards’ of Education know that you feel it is important that ABSTINENCE ONLY education programs are being presented to our kids. Encourage them to make it a priority that these programs become an integral part of the curriculum (what good is a high proficiency test score if your child contracts a life threatening disease because they didn’t know the real risks of sex outside of marriage).
I know all of this information is overwhelming (it was to me) but don't panic! Try to be open and communicate with your kids (or at least have them read this letter). Statistics revealed that one of the best deterrents to teens becoming sexually active is open communication with a parent or other responsible adult. (With Summer vacation upon us, which includes lots of free time, vacations, camps, etc…. NOW is the time to address this with your kids and clear up any questions or mixed messages they have gotten from misleading programs, peers and the media.)
Some recommended websites for your kids (& you!) to learn more & prompt discussion are: www.getTheTruth.net, www.greattowait.com, abednet.org, freeteens.org, clubvarsity.org, straight-talk.com, www.abstinence.net, www.teen-aid.org, and medinstitute.org.
After learning some of the information above, if you feel (as I did) that you want to/need to do more, please contact Chris Watkins @ The Hi Point Women's Center on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday from 12:00 Noon to 4:00 PM at (937) 592-7734, 110 N. Detroit St., PO Box 487, Bellefontaine, OH 43311.
Carol S. Baird
(Published in the Bellefontaine Examiner, Bellefontaine, Ohio on Tuesday June 18th, 2002.)