There are few things more overwhelming than being a teenager living in our current era. Pre-adults are thrown headfirst and disoriented into an adult world weathered with age and experience. Their only hope is desperately clinging to the life raft of anything that passes by in television or magazines, looking for identity in all the wrong places. During the majority of the year, these confused young adults are housed into an 8 hour-long day care known as high school. Unfortunately the task of zookeeper has fallen upon the teachers and staffs of public schools, doing their best to tranquilize these wild beasts long enough to graduate.
Public school systems across the nation are waging a constant battle between the harm-prevention among students and attempting not to alienate any one group. The latest battle in this war is choosing to offer prescription contraceptives – the birth control pill and morning after pill – to students who request them in schools. New York City launched a program within the last two years called CATCH (Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare), according to Time Magazine, “567 students received emergency contraception and 580 received the birth control pill through the program.” About 40 schools across the city have signed up for the CATCH program and hopefully every school in the nation will follow suit.
It is time to ignore the scare-tactics and abstinence programs just as every high school student in the nation has. Teens are going to have sex no matter what anyone tells them. Their bodies are upgrading to the adult models for the first time and are filled with new hormones; they will always steal the keys and take it for a drive. Adolescents of this age are doing very adult things; yet still contain the mind and inexperience of a child. Preaching abstinence is not only ineffective but also harmful when it prevents people from obtaining the proper treatments and care needed.
Public schools have recently started programs such as CATCH, but it is hardly the first move in the field of sexual harm-prevention among teens. Safe-havens for young adults seeking aid and not condemnation such as Planned Parenthood, do incredible work across the nation, informing and teaching the methods of safe and responsible intercourse. It is important to make it as widely available as possible; not because it influences teens into intimate situations, they need no coaxing just as we all remember, but prevents adolescent mistakes from influencing the rest of their lives.
The science behind these pills is where the confusion often lies, usually from conservative groups, interestingly enough. Because emergency contraceptives are taken after mistakes occur, conservatives such as presidential hopeful(ly not) Mitt Romney believe that they are “abortive pills” according to the Christian Science Monitor. This could not be more incorrect; thankfully the Internet has been invented, so the factual science behind the pill can be easily looked up. Emergency contraceptives such as Plan B contain the same hormone used in daily birth control, progestin, but at a higher dosage. Working with the same effects as birth control, emergency contraceptives prevent ovulation (releasing of the egg) so it does not get fertilized. If a pregnancy has already occurred, these pills will be ineffective and the pregnancy remains unharmed. Plan B can be taken up to five days after unprotected sex, but the more time passes, the less effective it becomes.
Emergency contraception has been made available without a prescription to those over age 17 through various drugstores. While the move was made to change the availability to all sexually active persons, inappropriately titled Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius decided differently. According to Time Magazine, Ms. Sebelius stated, “there was insufficient evidence that the youngest girls fully understood how to use the drug appropriately.” The FDA offered to eliminate the age restriction based on the same data that Sebelius found “insufficient”. The study “involving 335 girls aged 12 to 17, showed that 72-96 percent of them understood the package label well enough to use emergency contraception safely and effectively on their own.”
The developments of groups dedicated to helping misguided teens make responsible choices are not breaking news. Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916 and groups like CATCH have been working without issue for a few years. The problem lies in the time wasted when people refuse to listen to science and common sense and blindly follow erroneous information. These same people are creating our laws and running our cities and that is no longer acceptable. Rise up against all these blind leaders opposed to reality and please, always wear a rubber.