Sex Education in Mississippi: Will a New Law Lower Teen Pregnancy Rates?

Mississippi, which has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S., is starting to make its public schools offer sex education, but the law comes with many restrictions

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C. Todd Sherman / Reuters

Artasia Bobo, 16, hugs her three-year-old daughter after the teen's cheerleading practice at Itawamba Agricultural High School near Fulton, Miss., Aug. 15, 2012. Artasia's mother Renee Bobo, left, said her daughter hid the pregnancy for five months.

TUNICA, Miss. — During the four years Ashley McKay attended Rosa Fort High School in Tunica, Miss., her sex education consisted mainly of an instructor listing different sexually transmitted diseases. “There was no curriculum,” she says. “The teacher, an older gentleman who was also the football coach, would tell us, ‘If you get AIDS, you’re gonna die. Pick out your casket, because you’re gonna die.”

The scare tactic backfired. Baby showers were frequent occurrences during her time at Rosa Fort. McKay, now 24 and executive director of the non-profit Tunica Teens in Action, says between 15 and 20 students in her graduating class of 106 already had children, and that just included the girls. Marilyn Young, the president of the district’s school board, agreed the district had no formal approach to teaching sex education when McKay was a student—a gap she and others are working hard to change.

Located in the northwestern corner of Mississippi, Tunica County posted the highest teen birth rate in the state in recent years, according to data from the Mississippi State Department of Health. The state, meanwhile, consistently posts the highest teen birth rate in the country. In 2011, 55 of every 1,000 teenage girls in Mississippi gave birth, compared to a low of 16 per 1,000 in New Hampshire.

But a new law aims to improve sex education in Mississippi—or at the very least make every public school district in Mississippi start teaching it. The law lets districts choose from several curricula and decide which grades should teach sex education. For now, all of the districts in Mississippi appear to be focusing on middle and high school. About half of U.S. states mandate some sort of sex education.

(MORE: Mississippi Learning: Why the State’s Students Start Behind — and Stay Behind)

The Mississippi law puts some severe restrictions on schools, however. They must, for example, allow families to opt out of sex education. Boys and girls must be taught separately. And instructors cannot show students how to put on a condom or discuss abortion. While a majority of the state’s districts have selected “abstinence-only” curricula—which typically do not include detailed information on condoms and contraceptives—a sizable minority, including the district in Tunica, have opted for curricula that include such information and come with a stamp of approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). That means thousands of Mississippi schoolchildren likely will be taught a thorough and factual sex education curriculum for the first time ever.

“The kids in Mississippi have not been given medically accurate information about pregnancy and STDs,” says Jamie Bardwell, director of programs at the Women’s Fund of Mississippi, which advocates on issues affecting the state’s women and girls, including teen pregnancy. “Once we give them access to medically accurate information, we think behavior will change and the teen pregnancy rate will go down.”

Bardwell and other youth advocates and educators hope improved sex education will make a difference for Mississippi’s teens in the short term while they work to expand health care access and economic opportunity in the long term. The state’s child poverty rate—which is positively correlated to teen pregnancy—rose to 33 percent from 26 percent between 2000 and 2010, according to data from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. No state has a larger percentage of children living in poverty than Mississippi.

But better information won’t change the fact that many Mississippi teens have comparatively restricted access to birth control and abortion. Some Mississippi drug stores keep condoms under lock and key—although it’s unclear if store owners are trying to limit access or prevent shoplifting—and the rural nature of the state makes it difficult for teens to solicit medical or moral advice about sex anonymously since the local pharmacist or pastor very likely knows their parents. Meanwhile, the state’s Republican governor and legislature have set their sights on closing Mississippi’s lone remaining abortion clinic. Thirty years ago, 14 clinics performed abortions in Mississippi.

Revamping the curriculum

Across the country, the teenage pregnancy rate has been declining for decades, a trend experts attribute to improved access to contraceptives as well as to young people delaying having sex longer than they did in the 1990s. There’s also less stigma associated with talking frankly and publicly about sex and contraception. From 2005 to 2008, the nation’s teen pregnancy rate dropped 37 percent, according to data from the Guttmacher Institute, which works to promote sexual and reproductive health. But progress has been slower in Mississippi, where the teen pregnancy rate fell 20 percent during the same period, the smallest decline of any southern state.

(MORE: Is Online Teacher Training Good for Public Education?)

Teen pregnancy in Mississippi is a problem that affects the entire state and cuts across racial and socioeconomic lines, depressing the state’s already low graduation rates. Studies have shown more than two-thirds of teenage mothers do not graduate from high school. Moreover, the children of teen parents also graduate at lower rates, and earn less income, than their peers. One report by the Women’s Fund estimated that Mississippi taxpayers paid $155 million in 2009 from costs associated with births to teens—costs that included school failure, child neglect, and underemployment.

This fiscal reality helps explain why the culturally conservative state is taking steps to reduce teen pregnancy rates. Virtually overnight, the new law and a grassroots campaign led by a small non-profit called Mississippi First have revamped the way Mississippi schools teach sex education. In the past, most of the state’s 151 districts had no formal approach. When the Mississippi Department of Education asked districts for copies of their sex education policies or curricula in 2010, only five had anything written down, according to staff at Mississippi First. At many schools, the entire curriculum consisted of brief seminars with local pastors who preached the sins of pre-marital sex. Others failed to broach the subject at all.

The state law passed in 2011 required school districts to select and begin teaching a sex education curriculum by this school year. Districts can choose between several abstinence-only and abstinence-plus curricula approved by the state’s department of education—but only some of these programs are considered “evidence based” by HHS.

Mississippi First, which advocates on such issues as early childhood education and teen pregnancy, set out to encourage districts—especially those with the highest teen pregnancy and STD rates—to adopt the most comprehensive and scientific sex education possible under the new law. As an incentive, most districts that selected an evidence-based approach received free curricula  and teacher training through a federal grant.

(MORE: Teen Sex Ed: Instead of Promoting Promiscuity, It Delays First Sex)

Tunica was a fairly easy sell. There, the abstinence-plus advocates had support not only from recent graduates like McKay, but also from Young. “Just talking about abstinence is not enough,” Young says. “The data provided us with evidence what we were doing was not working.”

“Some Very Tough Fights”

Not all districts were willing to venture beyond abstinence. Just under half of the state’s districts selected an abstinence-plus curriculum. Of those, 39 (or about a quarter of districts in the state) selected a curriculum endorsed by HHS. Curriculum providers typically do not release copies of their materials to the media, so it’s impossible to know precisely which topics will be covered—and which will not be—in Mississippi health classes this school year. But it’s safe to say that most of the sex education classes will strongly emphasize delaying sex until marriage. One curriculum even concludes with a mock wedding ceremony. And only the ones endorsed by HHS are likely to include comprehensive and accurate information about birth control and condoms.

“We had some very tough fights at some school districts,” says Rachel Canter, the executive director of Mississippi First, who wanted districts to choose evidence based curricula. Her colleague Sanford Johnson targeted Hollandale School District in the Mississippi Delta with a particularly aggressive campaign. Washington County, where Hollandale is located, posts more cases of teenage gonorrhea per capita than any other county in the state. But a majority of the Hollandale School Board decided that an abstinence-only curriculum would best serve the needs of its students.

“My personal beliefs are simple,” says Demetric Warren, a Hollandale board member. “I believe in the Bible,” and abstaining from sex before marriage “is a tenet of the Bible.”

He argues that advocacy groups like Mississippi First inappropriately discount abstinence-only curricula without trying them first. “The majority of school districts weren’t even dealing with sex education,” he says. “How can something fail if it hasn’t been implemented?…I have not seen a person who is not sexually active contract a sexually transmitted disease.”

(MORE: The Good News In Teen Births Isn’t Good Enough)

The research on sex education is hotly disputed. But several peer-reviewed studies have found comprehensive that sex education is more effective at reducing teen pregnancy rates than abstinence-only approaches. One 2008 study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, for instance, reported that teenagers who received a thorough sex education were significantly less likely to become pregnant than those who received no sex education. The study, which controlled for such factors as income and family structure, found no similar effect for abstinence-only education.

The most popular sex education curriculum in Mississippi is called “Choosing the Best.” Sold by an Atlanta-based company whose website describes it as “abstinence centered,” the program has been placed on both the abstinence-only and abstinence-plus lists approved by the state’s department of education.

State officials said the law was written in a way that allowed some curriculum to qualify as both abstinence-only and abstinence-plus since the bill offered little detail on the extent to which an abstinence-plus curriculum must discuss contraception. A spokeswoman for Choosing the Best said in an e-mail that its curriculum includes “medically accurate, complete information about the effectiveness and limitations” of different contraceptive methods. In sample pages of the curriculum she supplied, students were given fill-in-the-blank questions such as this one about all the things that can go wrong with a commonly used contraceptive: “Condoms are made of rubber, so they can _____, slip off, be affected by heat and cold, and deteriorate over time.” (The correct answer is “break.”)

But Monica Rodriguez, the president of the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States, says Choosing the Best does not belong in the abstinence-plus category. “What little information there is on contraceptives is not something that would give young people good information to use to make health decisions,” she says.

Yet even critics of an abstinence-only approach prefer Choosing the Best to the Denver-based WAIT (Why Am I Tempted) Training, a curriculum from the Center for Relationship Education (CRE) that some health professionals and women’s advocates have described as misogynistic and medically inaccurate. About ten Mississippi districts opted to use WAIT Training, including Tupelo Public Schools, one of the largest districts in the state.

(MORE: Teen Moms Are Taking over Reality TV. Is That a Good Thing?)

CRE does not release full copies of its curriculum to the press. But a reporter for the Denver Westword newspaper who wrote a 2011 story about WAIT obtained videos of one of the trainers teaching an auditorium of teenagers. During one part of the presentation, the trainer, Shelly Donahue, applied the same piece of tape to the arms of different male students, ripping the tape off each teenager’s arm in turn. She likened the tape to teenage girls who engage in pre-marital sex: they become dirtier, more germ-ridden, and less able to adhere to someone the more partners they have, she said. In another controversial (and biologically questionable) part of the lesson, she said teenagers are so fertile a girl’s vagina becomes like a “little Hoover vacuum” — Donahue accompanied the phrase with a quick sucking sound — whenever sperm come anywhere near it. “You’re very fertile right now,” Donahue said, gesturing toward the high schoolers in the audience. “What happens when two fertile kids get together? How do you spell child support?”

Joneen Mackenzie, the founder of CRE, says WAIT Training includes information on contraception, but focuses on teaching kids “about love and how to have a healthy relationship.” She describes it as an antidote to “curriculum that come in with condoms, and dildos, and baskets, and makes the case for normalizing teen sex.” She adds that every activity included in WAIT Training has been “focus-grouped” by kids. “When people say, ‘You want to frighten and shame kids,’ that drives me crazy,” she says.

But others argue the curriculum shames young people—particularly girls—by implying they are dirty and ruined if they engage in pre-marital sex. “Not only is [the curriculum] not evidence-based, it’s damaging to women and girls,” says Carol Penick, executive director of the Women’s Fund.

Polling the Parents

What kind of information do families want their children to receive in school? More Mississippi parents than policy makers appear to support abstinence-plus sex education than abstinence-only. In a 2011 survey of 3,600 Mississippi public school parents commissioned by the Center for Mississippi Health Policy, most parents said they wanted a comprehensive sex education curriculum. Although 90 percent of parents saidschools should talk about the benefits of abstaining from sex, 78 percent said they wanted instruction on birth control methods; two-thirds said health instructors should tell teenagers where to obtain contraceptives; and more than half said they would prefer condom demonstrations in class.

(MORE: Half of Teen Moms Don’t Use Birth Control — Why That’s No Surprise)

Over the past year, Mississippi First’s Johnson has traveled throughout the state—first to convince school districts to adopt an evidence-based curriculum, and more recently to convince parents to let their children attend the classes.

Johnson has little difficulty winning over most of the parents who come to his presentations. Last month, at an evening gathering in Greenville, in the Mississippi Delta, he told the assembled parents that they live in a “priority one” community because of its high rates of gonorrhea, syphilis, and HIV.

“There are a lot of students who are virgins,” he said. “They might wait until next week to have sex. They might wait until next month. Or they might wait until their wedding day. But there are students in middle school who, believe it or not, are already sexually active.”

Johnson outlined the major topics covered in the new abstinence-plus curricula adopted in Greenville—from teaching students refusal skills to telling them how to put on a condom (but not showing them, since hands-on demonstrations are explicitly prohibited under the new law). The Greenville schools would be using the new curricula with its sixth through ninth graders, but only the older children would learn about birth control and contraceptives.

Eshaela Smith, one of only a dozen parents who attended the meeting, says she had no problem signing her seventh-grade daughter up for sex education classes. “I would like her to be educated,” she says. “But I will continue to do my part at home and pray that she’ll come to me with any questions about what she’s learning.”

MORE: How to Bring An End to the War Over Sex E
This story was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization based at Teachers College, Columbia University.
Sarah Carr, a contributing editor at the Hechinger Report, is the author of Hope Against Hope, which tells the story of the New Orleans schools post-Katrina.

82 comments
Lamdba
Lamdba

...and this is why The Netherlands has 1/8 our teen pregnancy rate.

Anna Riley-Pate
Anna Riley-Pate

"Normalizing teen sex"? Teens have been having sex for thousands of years. How about, instead of trying to pretend that it's something new that needs to be squashed, people accept that it happens and give their kids the tools to make healthy decisions. They can decry sexual activity as much as they want, but the choice is ultimately up to the teen, and that teen would be better served to be well educated and able to protect him/herself than to go into it head first without any kind of knowledge.

Reva Madison
Reva Madison

OH, one other thing to mention.  Planned parenthood wont be there either, if the Republicans get their way.  And that, the party that doesn't want anyone to be told about sex education, is the one that also doesn't agree to abortion, and then of course, is the same group that doesn't what to help the poor families, that all these children cause.   A real round robin.

Reva Madison
Reva Madison

Texas- 1950-60.  8th grade class.  The girls are called out to a "meeting" , no one tells the boys why.  The boys set there dumb and happy, with whispers going around.  Two hours later, the girls are back.  Nothing said about why.  That, the sole period of time spent on sex education in 12 years of public school.  And, much later on, we find it had simply to do with telling the girls about their periods, Kotex, and what to do with them.  Nothing at all about what to do about NOT having a baby.  Finding out from an older boy, out behind the barn, or, if they were lucky, watching a bull service a cow in the field was pretty much what the boys knew.  Mississippi is still stuck there, in the 40s and 50s.  Teaching children NOT to have sex, is not sex education.  Its just telling them there is a secret - in order to entice them to learn about it on their on.  Its a wonder the whole female student body wasn't pregnant.   Today, sadly, there is TV, which equates to being out behind the barn, but a lot more accurate than what the students often passed on. 

ggmary
ggmary

We also need to provide access to services like the ones provided by Planned Parenthood, but near the schools.  Yes, condoms and birth control should be provided to avoid unwanted pregnancies.  Some of the teens are going to have sex so why not make it "safe sex."

Harlow Siyah Bailey
Harlow Siyah Bailey

I would really like to see Planned Parenthood and/or other organizations step up to the South and other states where politics and monotonous generational ignorance is depriving young people from making positive and correct choices for their bodies and their futures. I believe progressive sex education is important.  When you stifle a young persons thinking you stifle their ability to mature and make healthy choices during their entire lifespan; teaching sex education isn't going to increase the sexual appetite of teens like I believe a lot of Southerns think.  We are sexual human beings by nature and it's going to happen but teaching young people to perhaps delay sex or if they choose to engage in sex to be protected.  It really amazes me that we still have a culture of "thinking" that is: "See none and pretend it doesn't exist".  You cannot pretend that we are born into this world without penises and vaginas no more than you can pretend that teens aren't having sex because they ARE.

Chinga_Tu_Madre
Chinga_Tu_Madre

Where are the defenders of abstinence-only education?

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

To the extent the legislature hopes? No, of course, it's not going to help. Yet another example of the government trying to raise our kids for us. Since liberals love taxing people so much, why not tax teens that have children as well as their parents? Now that would get some people's attention. If they don't pay, send them to jail. Or if that's too much to handle, just stop funding planned parenthood. You get pregnant, then you have to pay for the abortion or the cost to have the child at your local Emergency Room, assuming you don't have insurance.

Paul Hanson
Paul Hanson

From middle school to college age, kids will always BS around. Always. Not even separating girls from guys will help. They'll find a way around it, or they'll just BS with each other. We're hardwired to breed in those developing years, so although it is very possible for some to abstain, many can't or simply don't want to because unless if you castrate yourself, you're always going to be chasing tail whether you know it or not. It's best to teach not just kids, but everyone, on how to use condoms, spot STD/Is, prevent pregnancy, and know the basic layout of their biological time clock. Sex is part of life and it's in your face all the time so you might as well get wise now than later when you're landed with an unexpected "gift" that lands you into parenthood or the clinic.

superlogi
superlogi

I'm sure that preaching true love and commitment and handing out free contraceptives after class will cure the problem.  The stupidity is mind boggling.  Frankly, the only thing that will work, has to do with a person's homelife, and interrupting the cycle of poverty in those homes.  It certainly isn't going to be fixed by farming the problem out to K-12 educators, when they can't even accomplish their primary job of educating our kids in the 3-R's.  But who cares if it works.  At least we're doing something about it, right?

lovingparentof2
lovingparentof2

Mississippi has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates. They also have one of the lowest academic school testing rates. They also have the worst health/obesity rates Coincidence? I don't think so. That entire state is in trouble in almost every way. When you're that low in everything, it's hard to go anywhere but up, but yet, they're getting worse and worse every year. 

The people need education.

The leaders need to change and be accountable for their districts.

Changes need to happen NOW for Mississippi. Otherwise, the entire state of Mississippi is going to resemble the slums that we normally think of of third world countries.

lovingparentof2
lovingparentof2

What are the parents doing to stop teenage (or pre-teen) pregnancies?? It's ridiculous that people expect the schools to parent their children. The 16 year old girl pictured above with her 3 year old had her child at 13, and most probably got pregnant at 12. It's not the job of schools to teach 12 year olds to not have sex. When my kids were 12,  they were with me ALL the time or at school. I knew where they were all the time. Obviously too many of these parents in Mississippi aren't even parenting or supervising their children and allowing them to run around unsupervised. Teenage pregnancy is one thing when they have cars, other transportation, hormones, and teenage "rebellion" time, but a 12 year old?????  No way! That's a testament to negligent and bad parenting.

SRSwain
SRSwain

What is it about Mississippi that inures the people to such backwardness generation after generation?  

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

What a shock - a sex education program that pretends that millions of years of evolution doesn't matter turns out to not work.

Who could have seen that coming?

smooth edward
smooth edward

One of the pitfalls of Federalism - unequal education. Take it down another step with home rule, and you have an education determined by the ignorance and personal bias of local residents. 

Krowster
Krowster

What the world need is to have all boys under 10 be temporarily "neutralized" be vasectomy and later have it reversed when they decide they are ready to have children. Given the level of today's technology, this is an easy process that will save billions of dollars, but also put tens of thousands of businesses out of work.  Care to guess who will win?

Dolmance
Dolmance

An argument could be made that just raising a kid in that state constitutes child abuse.

Ben Wells
Ben Wells

If your sex education curriculum only teaches abstinence, then

you need to teach it along with how to be a successful teenage parent.  

Krowster
Krowster

Yep, as expected, another anal decision being made without first considering the impact to the U.S. society and those involved. China has a strict record for "birth control", and in spite of the heavy fines, and who knows what form of persecution, it just plain fails.

Trying to stop hormone from behaving naturally is like trying to stop a freight train from moving once it gets going down hill, only something really drastic might work.

The only thing schools sex education can accomplish in is that teens will have one less important class to attend, and more of an excuse to raise taxes for sex preventive items in the bathrooms, which again, will not stop the hormones from operating when the heating gets going.

William List
William List

all this education is good - but if you want to reduce pregnancy rates stop subsidizing it. Require girls to identify the fathers or no benefits. Start holding parents responsible. 

floppymoppy
floppymoppy

I grew up in a public school with comprehensive sex education. Nowhere were there dildos to be found - this is a ridiculous scare-tactic statement. We learned about various methods of birth control, how to correctly apply a condom, as well as the consequences of sex - STDs (and how they are actually acquired), and we even were tasked with going to Babies R' Us and writing down the prices of diapers and essential baby items so we would better understand the true cost of having a baby. It was clearly stated that abstinence was the only 100% effective way to prevent STDs and pregnancy, but contraceptive methods were not made to look like they were useless, like in the abstinence-only curriculum mentioned in the article, which would lead kids who would be sexually active anyway to disregard its benefits and forgo using it altogether. I don't remember one person in my large graduating class becoming pregnant. Some kids were having sex, but many weren't. Comprehensive sex education works.

Anees Ebrahem
Anees Ebrahem

Why do American teens insist of having sex in the 7th grade?

Palladia
Palladia

Gee, I don't know.  Maybe the sheer failure of their position has led them to silence?

Palladia
Palladia

We already have a sizable proportion of people in prison - more than any other first world country - for actual crimes.  You want to send more there for simply having kids?

How would stopping funding Planned Parenthood - which supplies contraception and family-planning information help anything? 

The means of stopping unwanted pregnancy is contraception.  Cuts down on abortion, too.  Win-win.

Davel6969
Davel6969

both party's have friends; who sell this stuff "idiot" they pass legislation amp; two day's latter their friends warehouses are full and the gov. buying all of it at 100times cost. That's how our capitalistic system works you should know that. SMART GUY.BOTH PARTY'S ARE GUILTY. THE REAL PROBLEM IS GUY'S LIKE "YOU" STILL SUPPORT THEM. YOUR THE BIGGEST IDIOT EVER. YOU FOOL,CLOWN, IDIOT,SMUCK,amp; (OTHERS THAT I FORGOT).UNLESS YOUR SCAMMING THE SYSTEM TOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!

taerach
taerach

@SRSwain  Inbreeding!

GoFishGo
GoFishGo

 Could be that they have the highest percentage of blacks,

 i.e. the people with the highest single parent household, the highest obesity rates, and the lowest academic level and the highest crime rate amongst all the races that make up our nation. Its the Bell Curve of underachievers.

Of course glossing over these facts have served everyone well for so long.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

ggmary
ggmary

We used to have sex education, then the GOP came along and banned it.

They want more folks to fall into the 47% SO THEY CAN LOATHE US.

Palladia
Palladia

I'm not quite sure how you've determined that "Federalism" results in "unequal education."

The latter is the result of various states' attitudes toward education, and Mississippi has pretty low standards on that subject.  If every state were required to give (on the subject about which this piece speaks) a factual education to every kid coming along about sexuality, how reproduction works, and how to avoid unwanted pregnancy, or terminate it, with the concommittant structure of supplies, it would save a lot of problems.  The girl pictured with this story, for example, was 13 or perhaps 12 when she got pregnant.

Her life will be forever changed by that, and about the best thing is that evidently she hasn't gotten pregnant again.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

And I thought the old policy in Mississippi was the stupidest thing I had ever heard of when it comes to sex education.

Congratulations.  You now top the leader board.

Quaant
Quaant

I was raised in Mississippi, and I consider it one of the most significant ways in which my parents betrayed me in childhood.  The best possible case for parents in that state is that they sentence their children to years of therapy and a great deal of frustration.

peanut12
peanut12

When hormones aree in control, that is when the training in contraceptions kicks in. I was lucky, because my vague understanding of the rhythm method had me believing the wrong time was the safest time to not get pregnant. I cannot beli e that almost 50 years later teens are even more ignorant than I was. No excuse for the ignorance is bliss crowd

Palladia
Palladia

China's program doesn't "just fail."  They've done very well at reducing their rate of population growth.

Good sex education and good contraception combine to lower unwanted pregnancy rates.  Compare states that have both, and their unmarried teen pregnancy rates, and it will show up.

Godzilla1960
Godzilla1960

That will have absolutely NO impact on teen pregnancy rates, but it will allow the self righteous to feel better about their smugness.

MargoStapleton
MargoStapleton

@Anees Ebrahem  It seems that children are getting to puberby at younger ages that when I was young in the "olden days"  when most girls were about 12 years old.  And I think our mothers tended to try to tell us what it was all about, perhaps more than they do now.  

Sexual information and education needs to begin at an earlier stage, I think, with teachers being trained on how to explain to younger children what's involved in the human body, how it works, and how to react sensibly to the urges they'll surely feel.  They need to be able to teach their students what to do (and control of those urges is possible with proper knowledge of the consequences) and how to prevent pregnancies and diseases.  It shouldn't be up to individual schools, but statewise.....or countrywide, for that matter.

Palladia
Palladia

They don't all "insist" on it.  But some do have sex.  It is for this reason that early and accurate information should be given, by someone who isn't, himself (or herself) conflicted on the subject.  It should be taught like any other subject: like History, or geography: this is what happens, this is where things are, this is how they work, this is the result. 

Failing that, ignorance does its thing.

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

It's simple. The government should not be in the business of funding people's sex lives. If you have sex, then you should be responsible enough to pay the consequences. We make laws that say you can't drink until you're 21. If you're caught drinking under the age of 21, you're breaking the law. Make a law that says you can't have sex until you're 18. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness doesn't include teenage sex just like it doesn't include being jackass in school or public. This is a clear example of trying to cram a square peg through a round hole. Just make it illegal and institute a mechanism of accountability and enforcement. Here's a novel idea: consider parents of teenagers who get pregnant dead-beat parents and garnish their wages or welfare entitlements. Wow! I bet that would have a greater impact on reducing teenage pregnancies than sex education. 

Davel6969
Davel6969

9) Curiously, this political machine has recently cozied up to its main rival and competitor. This new friendship is another cynical step to solidify political power and freeze out any other potential competitors;

10) This machine — and its main rival — have virtually ruined this country. They have corrupted everything and everyone in their path. Yes, when out of office they profit by earning millions on the book and public speaking market. But, in their wake, they have left a shambles. Ruined aides, indicted friends, bankrupted former staffers.

Who — or what — is this political machine?

The Clinton machine, and the Bush machine. They are virtually inter-changeable!

One — the Clintons — basically owns the Democratic Party.

And the other — the Bushes — owns the Republican Party.

They each, in their own way, have ripped off and raped their own party for their own selfish purposes — and the party machinery has allowed it! (Remember that sorry spectacle of Republicans traipsing down to Austin in 1999 to beg George W. Bush to run for president?)

The GOP is now paying a severe price for it: losing the House, Senate, many governorships and state houses; in 1994-2000, the Democrats paid for Bill and Hillary's political and personal excesses by losing the House, Senate, many governorships and state houses — and finally the White House. Yet these two machines continue on.

Their parties suffer — but the Bushes and Clintons couldn't care less. They are rolling in dough, laughing all the way to the bank and just waiting to return to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Our country is in grave trouble. And some of this is due to our government and our politicians.

The Clintons and the Bushes have rotted out our political system.

Until they are displaced and defeated — by a principled leader, not another greedy opportunist like a Giuliani in the GOP or an Edwards in the Democrat Party, we will not be able to repair our broken political system.

Davel6969
Davel6969

Here is what we are seeing these days: A political machine that is:

1) Bent gaining and keeping power;

2) Uses that power for selfish, personal, self-promotional purposes;

3) Happy to crush-slime-defame-lie about anyone who gets in its way, even members of its own party;

4) Happy to milk its own political party for selfish reasons;

5) Not the least bit shameful about the fact that, once before, this same political machine had power and, when it left office, had left its party in shambles;

6) Has conned the so-called mainstream media into pulling back from criticisms and probes by threatening "loss of access" if any real scrutiny was pursued;

7) Has totally co-opted the party's fundraising apparatus for its own sake, which often has left other candidates short on cash;

8) Is based on a total fraud: that the head of this political machine is some sort of political savior or political genius; in fact, the head of the machine is a power-mad user of people. Period.

SRSwain
SRSwain

Well, it would appear that you have peeled that grape right down to the quick. In a humorous piece of badinage called "The Medium is the Massage," created under the name of Marshall McLuhan, one of the characters is heard to say, "What is the definition of an Eskimo family? A mother, a father, two children and an anthropologist." Sounds to me that you have removed some sort of "pologist" to come to your analysis. Be that as it may, life must be very hard there regardless of race if you are poor.

Krowster
Krowster

I see,  you're an expert on stupidity! Thank you for the comment.

MargoStapleton
MargoStapleton

@peanut12  Fifty years ago (more, actually) I understood the basics of the rhythm method, but then realized that not all women follow a precise schedule, and that it wasn't all that easy to figure mine out.  Hence a family of 5 children in 9 years!  Not that I didn't dearly love them all, but life would have been a bit easier with fewer offspring.  My husband was in the military and every time we made a big transfer move we had another child and all its gear to handle.  I got very good at packing necessities, and was lucky that the children seemed to understand at very early ages and always behaved amazingly well.

I agree there's no excuse now for not teaching children about human sexuality and how to handle it.  Things are so different from when I was young.  I hope the educators in all states come to realize they must develop a sensible system with full support for their students,

Krowster
Krowster

The population issue is not to one specific area of the country, it's a global issue when dealing with over population. The Mississippi issue is designed toward controlling spending because of supporting programs, not population control. If spending wasn't the issue they wouldn't care one bit about controlling birth rates.  A hypocrite solution to the bigger problem over taxing the planet with more people. In other words the wrong focus...

taerach
taerach

@worleyeoe  So I guess you're willing to bear the societal costs instead, poor families not able to get by,  so they need food stamps- you pay for, housing- you pay for, lack of education- you actually pay for, if no Obamacare then emergency care at the hospital, and trust me, you pay for that too. Maybe you should be governor of Mississippi. And do the rest of us a favor, secede from the nation. 

worleyeoe
worleyeoe

Okay. Then terminate Obama Care, which is government funded and managed health care that, if you had your wish, would interject Uncle Sam into people's sex lives. Again, why should MY tax $$$ go to fund contraception and abortion for people who can't control themselves? Or more pointedly, want someone else to pay for their screw ups. The ONLY way you're going to make it stick is to implement consequences, both financial and personal accountability. We've tried sex education and contraception for four decades. It hasn't and won't work. Let's meet back here on time.com a year from now and do a post-mortum on the new MS law. Take care, Palladia.

Palladia
Palladia

Atually, the government should not concerned with people's sex lives at all.

This means that if people want contraception, they should be able to get it covered by their insurance.  This is particularly true because, for the underwriter, contraception is considerably cheaper than covering prenatal care, delivery, post-natal care, and pediatric care.

This means that since sexuality is a part of the lives of everyone, one way or another, education as to its realities should be made the same sort of thing as any other academic study: Give factual information, explain the benefits and pitfalls, and consider it like arithmetic or English: parents aren't able to opt out of their children learning these subjects, are they?

This means that if a woman wants an abortion, she should be able to get it: again, economically, abortion is a lot cheaper than prenatal care, delivery, post-natal care, and pediatric care.  And the government, in general, should not interfere in individuals' lives, right?

Anyone who wants to try to legislate who may have sex, and at what age, is going to think that the prohibition of alcohol was a success.

Actually, we Have not "tried sex education for four decades." We've hardly given it a shot at all. Between people trying to see to it that it's merely "don't do it" and people who want to assure that the facts are never clearly presented, what we've been doing is laughable, if it weren't so disastrous.

Countries (and individual areas) where really good sex education is par for the course simply don't have the problems with teen pregnancy that we do.

The next thing is that all sorts of barriers are thrown up when people want to get, and use contraception. People who don't approve of choice in the matter of abortion try and sometimes succeed in closing Planned Parenthood clinics, a prime source of contraception and wellness exams for women who for whatever reason, want to avoid pregnancy. It worked for me, and I contribute to PP to try to help them past those people.

Look. Either contraception or abortion is CHEAPER than funding a pregnancy and all that goes with it. If it's really money that concerns you, you ought to be more than pleased with that.

I'm not terribly interested in paying for obesity treatment for people who eat themselves into that condition, and the diabetes and cardiovascular problems that accompany it. But, treating the obesity is cheaper that not treating it. For all concerned.

And, of course, eating doesn't carry the onus that sex does, does it?

Krowster
Krowster

You seriously need to get a handle on your science, things have change since the dark ages. Moreover, in a world where over population is a serious concern for all generations, I totally support massive population control at any cost. better to have a few living well than having a world of many living in misery and starvation. What is the greater good will always be an issue where sides will be taken and lines be drawn.

Palladia
Palladia

Well. . . vasectomization is not always reversible.

It would be much better to interrupt the process for the girls, since -- surprise! -- they're the ones who get pregnant.

Missing one boy could result in a lot of pregnancies, but missing one girl would only result in, at worst, five or six.

It is under this theory that when a sterilization program is undertaken for, say, feral cats, it is considered more important to do the females than the males.

I'd say that Godzilla just might have a point on early vasectomization  not being a really bright idea.

Mr. Krowster, I seriously have "a handle on my science;" I've been breeding horses and cattle for upward of four decades. AI and all. You seriously need to get a handle on your tendency to give gratuitous insult; you put off potential allies that way.

Now. When you say you "support massive population control at any cost," just what do you mean? Do you mean having some people killed off, or merely waiting until they die, in their own time? If you're planning to do a "kill them off" effort, you might as well just give it up now, because that one isn't going to fly.

The place to control the problem is before it begins: if your bathtub is overflowing, first shut off the taps, and then open the drain. We need to stop this business of trying to prohibit contraception (or make in difficult of access) and we might as well stop interfering with abortion. The pregnant women know their situation better than any outsider.

We need to understand, clearly, the implications of bacteriology's "lag, log, death" story. If you don't know it, I'll fill you in. It was one of my science courses in college.

Palladia
Palladia

We are in agreement that the population of the planet needs stop increasing; and I think we ought to let it quietly drop, by using contraception extensively.

I take issue with your statement that China's efforts at controlling population growth have failed: indeed, their 2010 census showd one-half the growth of the previous decade.  That is quite a good success.

Birth rates need to drop, everywhere, not just in Mississippi as you say, and we're going to have to spend some money to get that to happen.  People who don't think that's a good investment just don't grasp the problem.


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