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In response to a controversial NC House bill that would impose new and unprecedented restrictions on the ability of teens to obtain health care services, Chapel Hill freelance writer Jennifer Ferris shared the following extremely personal, but powerful story with NC Policy Watch today. Thanks, Jennifer. 

A mom remembers    

Talking about teenagers and sexual health is not comfortable. And even less comfortable is the story I’m about to tell you. It’s one I’ve held tight to my chest these past 20 years, and I don’t savor breaking the “in case of emergency” glass I’ve placed it behind.

Deep sigh. Here goes.

The year was 1993. I was 16, an Honor Roll student and employee of the month at my job. I was also in a great deal of pain. Read More

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North Carolina’s teen pregnancy rate fell to a record low last year, according to new figures released Monday by the state Department of Health and Human Services.

While significant disparities still exist between racial and ethnic groups, advocates are praising last year’s passage of the Healthy Youth Act with helping to lower the number of teenage births.

Rep. Susan Fisher, who was a primary sponsor of the Act, joins us in the studio this week to discuss why it would be a mistake to repeal the measure and return to abstinence-only education, as some conservatives have suggested.

Fisher also discusses cyberbullying, the School Violence Prevention Act, and the challenges in finding a balanced approach to next year’s budget cuts. For a preview of Rep. Fisher’s radio interview with Chris Fitzsimon, please click below.

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cosmo shortMine 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.