My Turn: Abstinence-only class a good idea

Posted: Thursday, October 02, 2008

Keeping in mind, the separation of church and state, knowledge as we all know, is a powerful tool. So having another option for sex education in the school district would be a great idea.

I'm talking about an abstinence-only class that could be added to the school's curriculum. (Mind you, I didn't say in place of.) It would give teens a fair and balanced view of all the different options that are available.

Many people ask why would we believe in such a preposterous idea, or why we would even put our kids at such a risk. Having this class available as an option would not only teach kids about abstinence, but it would teach them why we think it's a good idea. In the long run, it would show kids how to respect themselves and others as well. It would be beneficial in building self-esteem, which is very important to a young person. (Because most kids lack self-esteem, they will a lot of times, give in to sex.) So, even if they don't have parents as good role models at home, as long as they have self-esteem or self-worth they could still come out ahead in life. And isn't that what most parents want for their kids?

Here are some statistics of the different methods of birth control, if used correctly and consistently by people as young as 10. I got the data from several different medical Web sites:

• Abstinence only: 100 percent effective against unwanted pregnancy, 100 percent effective against all sexually transmitted diseases and 0 percent health risks.

• Hormone controlled pill, patch, IUD (Mirena), vaginal ring, injection and morning-after pill (Plan B): 89 percent to 99.9 percent effective against unwanted pregnancy and 0 percent effective against STDs/HIV/PID. Health risks (minor): acne, weight gain, mood swings, water retention, headaches, blurred vision, breast tenderness, rashes, dizziness, vomiting, tiredness, irregular cycles, hair loss, nausea and raised blood pressure. Health risks (major): breast cancer, cervical cancer, high blood pressure, blood clots, severe leg pain, stroke, heart attack, chest pain and shortness of breath.

Note 1: Smoking over 35 will increase these risks.

Note 2: If using the IUD, infectious diseases are even more serious.

Note 3: There have been recent studies to suggest that the long-term use of oral contraceptives may in fact cause atherosclerosis, which can lead to heart disease, stroke or a loss of libido, even after terminating use. The findings were so great that Dr. Gordon Tomaselli, a cardiologist from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, stated he would not even recommend giving them to his own daughter.

• Condoms (male or female): 55 percent to 97 percent effective against unwanted pregnancy, lowers risks of STDs/HIV/PID but not 100 percent. Health risks include allergies to latex, and if spermicide is used, allergies can be worse or cause urinary tract infections.

• Cervical Caps (with spermicide): 75 percent to 87 percent effective against unwanted pregnancy and limited protection against STDs but not against HIV/AIDS. Health risks include vaginal infection, urinary tract infection and toxic shock syndrome.

Abstinence, if used correctly and consistently, works 100 percent of the time for birth control, is 100 percent effective against any infectious diseases and has absolutely no health risks. All other forms of birth control can't give you 100 percent protection against pregnancy or infectious diseases, and the majority of them come with health risks, some serious (even after you've stopped using them). Even if you mixed and matched, you would not come close to the effectiveness of practicing abstinence only.

Society has been moving toward a more health conscience attitude about having hormones, preservatives, or pesticides in the foods that we eat. So why would anyone want to give their kids hormone-controlled contraceptives or spermicidal contraceptives, even as young as 10 years of age? With all the long-term health risks, a child that is 10, 11, or 12 on birth control now would have to find something else to use before they even reach college. Otherwise, they risk getting pregnant or even worse.

In conclusion, I have provided you with some of the reasons why I think it's a good idea to have this option in the school district's curriculum. Now my question to you is, "So, why not?"

• Betsy Giles lives in Juneau and is a stay-at-home mom with three kids.

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