When it comes to teen pregnancy, Mississippi has the highest rate in the nation. The state has 55 births per 1,000 girls ages 15 to 19 — a whopping 60 percent above the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And it is not too difficult to see the culprit: abstinence-only sex education dominates the state and schools are only allowed to teach, you know, birth control if they got special permission.
But as misguided as abstinence-only sex ed is, advocates who fight teen pregnancy say education is only one piece of the puzzle. An article published yesterday by the Associated Press quotes a representative from the Mississippi Women’s Fund who says that poverty and class mobility are also big parts of the problem. Young women need to know they will have educational and job opportunities awaiting them if they don’t become young mothers.
Of course, eradicating poverty and creating job opportunities won’t happen overnight. But there is one small action that could soon dramatically bring light to the darkness in MS: a new law requires that, by the end of June, school districts have to decide whether to continue with abstinence-only sex ed or upgrade to what’s called “abstinence-plus.” “Abstinence-plus” still promotes abstaining from sex as a 100 percent effective way not to get pregnant, but also teaches contraception methods, sexual assault prevention, and how drugs and alcohol play into sexual behavior.
Seems like an obvious answer, right? It is time to do the right thing, Mississippi.
Contact the author of this post at Jessica@TheFrisky.com. Follow me on Twitter at @JessicaWakeman.
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