Thursday, October 18, 2007

Schools Supplying Birth Control to 11 Year Olds

AP reports that the Portland School Committee voted 7-2 yesterday to make a full range of contraceptives available, including birth control pills, to middle school children as young as 11 years old.

Committee member Robert O'Brien (not one of the two dissenters, it seems) assures us that distribution would only follow "extensive counseling" and would not be given to prepubescent children. This is his notion of scrupulous moral responsibility as a public educator.

"Students would need parental permission to use the city-run health center in the school, but they wouldn't have to tell them they were seeking birth control." (AP)
Nancy Gibbs at TIME adds,
"Parents would have to consent for their children to be treated at the King Middle School clinic, but the nature of the treatment provided, including prescribing contraception, falls under state laws protecting patient privacy."
No doubt these schools are willing to discipline or counsel (as appropriate) any of these children on a range of behavioral issues, even bringing the parents into the process. But when children as young as 11 are having sexual intercourse, suddenly its a privacy issue. But an 11 year old is not making an adult choice when engaging in this adult behavior. He or she is being exploited and needs to be protected, not from his or her parents but from the sexual "partner." Those in charge of the Portland school system, however, think of themselves as "protecting" the children by supplying them with birth control and keeping the matter a secret from the parents.

Because you are surely wondering, here is the answer from AP: "Sex with a nonspousal minor under 14 is considered gross sexual assault in Maine, and officials said it was unclear whether nurses at the health center would be required to report such activities."

Advocates claim that they are simply facing reality:
"Five of the 134 students who visited King Middle School's health center last year admitted they were sexually active; in the last four years, Portland's three middle schools reported 17 pregnancies, not counting miscarriages or unreported pregnancies that ended in abortions." (TIME)
From this, writer Nancy Gibbs reasons that, "...while ideally parents should be responsible for transmitting information and values to their children, the school has a responsibility to children whose parents can't or won't do so." She takes it as axiomatic that government schools have a responsibility to become the parents of children whose actual parents appear to be deficient. There's one of the problems right there.

Further facts from TIME:
  • "Roughly 30% of the country's 1,700 school health clinics offer some form of contraception, but condoms are far more common than prescription contraception."
  • "Maine Middle schoolers, like kids all across the country, are already postponing sex longer: The percentage who reported having sexual intercourse dropped from 23% in 1997 to 13% in 2005, according to the Maine Youth Risk Behavior Survey."
Again I ask: Why do people continue to send their children to government schools? You do this even knowing that, should your child enter into moral confusion, the school will facilitate it by supplying birth control without your knowledge, even birth control pills which (for good medical reason) are prescription drugs.

What does it take before the leaders in our nation -- from the school committees and town councils to the United States Congress -- and those who elect them see that a community cannot live this way and continue as a community in the proper sense of the world. These people have the same moral outlook that defended leniency for criminals and liberty for the insane while New York City was slipping into anarchy in the 1970s and 1980s. A people cannot adopt the moral premises that our cultural leaders defend and continue as a productive and civil people.

Parents of Portland! You know the seven who voted for this. Throw the bums out!

Meanwhile, consider this freak show of quotations:
Gov. John Baldacci said he had reservations about the program and was trying to learn more. (AP)

Carol Schiller, the mother of a boy and girl who graduated from King, said she was "elated" at the committee's vote. She said critics shocked that 11-year-olds have sex should "get over it." She added, "It's much more important that we reach out to these kids and get them the tools they need to stay safe, stay in school and get an education." (AP)
One committee member, Sarah Thompson, mother of an eighth grader, admitted that the proposal made her "uncomfortable," but she understood the need. "I know I've done my job as a parent," Thompson said. "[But there] may be a time when she doesn't feel comfortable coming to me [and] not all these kids have a strong parental advocate at home." (TIME)

December 14, 2007: AP supplied this correction in the comments. In light of this, Mrs Schiller's idea of "reaching out" to sexually active children is only slightly less appalling, but appalling just the same.
¶ PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ In an Oct. 18 story about contraceptive prescriptions provided at King Middle School health clinic, The Associated Press quoted Carol Schiller, a mother, saying that critics who are shocked that 11-year-olds have sex "should get over it." Schiller now says she was referring to 14- and 15-year-old middle school students, rather than the youngest students at the school. The story should have specified the age range.

2 comments:

dilawar khan said...

I am left marvelling once again at what passes for sanity in New England. Calling a vacation in December "Christmas Break" is supporting a religion. Allowing people to own guns is encouraging violence. But providing 11 years old with contraception is protecting them and helping them to "stay safe." Your Carol Schiller quote makes me shudder. We are "reaching out" to "these kids" so they'll "stay safe, stay in school and get an education." Safe from pregnancy perhaps but not from the weight of premature decisions. Safe from an STD or two but not from being used as an object of amusement. And pleasure is at the root of it all. We can't take a stand and tell children to say no to something, regardless of what your culture and desires would lead you to believe. We live in a culture of shelter. Shelter from failure, so we eliminate grades. Shelter from laziness, so we provide welfare. And always shelter from the moral ramifications of our decisions.

Associated Press said...

Clarification: MIDDLE SCHOOL CONTRACEPTIVES story
¶ Eds: Members who used BC-ME--US-Middle School Contraceptives of Oct. 18 may wish to use the following, which clarifies comments attributed to a mother quoted in the story

¶ PORTLAND, Maine (AP) _ In an Oct. 18 story about contraceptive prescriptions provided at King Middle School health clinic, The Associated Press quoted Carol Schiller, a mother, saying that critics who are shocked that 11-year-olds have sex "should get over it." Schiller now says she was referring to 14- and 15-year-old middle school students, rather than the youngest students at the school. The story should have specified the age range.