Mine came from Cosmopolitan magazine. That’s right, I learned some of life’s most important lessons not from my mother or my teachers but from the mass media. That was the 1970’s when women’s lib and free love dominated the culture. Much has changed since then, society has embraced more conservative values and along with those a naïve perspective about sex education.
Our state law, which was passed 12 years ago, requires public schools to teach an abstinence-only curriculum. This law has done little to discourage teenagers from being sexually active or reduce teen pregnancy rates in our state. According to the North Carolina Children’s Index, 37% of teenagers (age 14-18) report being sexually active. In addition, North Carolina currently has the 9th highest rate of teen pregnancies in the nation. Teen pregnancies adversely affect the state’s graduation rates and its welfare rolls. Teen pregnancy is a crisis in North Carolina that few people are talking about.
Fortunately, Sen. Linda Garrou (D-Forsythe) has demonstrated leadership on this issue. The Winston-Salem Journal reported that
Garrou has filed legislation that will take North Carolina public schools toward that goal and that will address the wishes of the majority of parents, who want a more comprehensive education on sexual matters for their children.
Abstinence-only education does little to protect teenagers from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. As adults, we have a responsibility to make certain that every teenager is given accurate and complete information about sex. If we don’t design a school curriculum that gives them this information, they are going to turn to another source, the media. I know, I’m speaking from experience.