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Sex ed could curb teen pregnancy phenomenon

Many teenage girls in America are actively seeking pregnancy.


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Our country's confusing policies relating to sexual education and the protection of its citizens have pervaded the youth, and this wayward thinking is a result of ignorance and abstinence-only education. The U.S. has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any industrialized country, and when girls are getting pregnant, which likely means that they are not using contraceptives. At least one in four teen girls in America has a sexually transmitted infection (STI).


Researcher Susan L. Davies studied the attitudes of low-income black teenage girls in Birmingham, Ala. in 2004. She found that almost 25 percent of them expressed a desire to become pregnant in the near future. She says that low-income and a romanticized view of motherhood plays a role in this desire.


""Young girls who are headed to college aren't thinking about getting pregnant,"" Davies said. ""But if you are a sophomore in a lousy high school and getting terrible grades, and the best that you can hope for is a job at the Dairy Queen, then dropping out and having a baby may seem like your best option.""


Ana Orci, a senior at Tucson High School, is concerned about the female population at her school as well.


""I have not met anyone who wants to get pregnant but I have had so many friends who have gotten pregnant accidentally. A lot of girls that I know have gotten pregnant and are younger than me,"" said Orci, who is 17.


In regard to the sex education at her school, Orci said, ""I think that it needs a lot of work because honestly there's not even a class that's about that. They just put it in health class; they don't even focus on sex ed. They basically tell you that if you have sex you're going to die or you're going to get an STD. I don't think they really tell you that you could have sex in a safe way.""


Many factors have collided to bring about this odd sentiment among female adolescents and there is one solution that would reduce the instances of teenage ignorance; comprehensive sexual education.


Planned Parenthood has started a petition to make comprehensive sexual education mandatory into Arizona schools. As it stands, this type of comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sexual education is only optional for schools, and most schools opt out due to lack of funding.


The Responsible Education About Life (REAL) Act has been introduced into Congress thanks to Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Representative Barbara Lee (D-Calif.). This act would be the first to create a grant program to help fund comprehensive sex education programs in schools nationwide. Abstinence-only educational programs receive billions every year.


Last year, Time magazine featured a piece about the ""Pregnancy Boom at Gloucester High"" where 17 girls, all under the age of sixteen, made a pact to get pregnant and raise their babies together. I give the girls props for their community endeavor - but they were about 15 years ahead of schedule.


The media jumped on this scandal and some chose to focus on the fact that some girls had slept with a homeless man to become pregnant, rather than focusing on the issue at hand. The Time article speculated that the real issue is that these girls are ""directionless,"" unsure of their options for the future and want to be loved unconditionally. Unfortunately, many teen girls in our own community are feeling these exact same sentiments.


Jessica Risco, a public health graduate student at the UA, has been working at Sunnyside High School with a public health program that focuses on teen pregnancy. ""I have encountered several students who are interested in getting pregnant now,"" she said.


""Maury,"" the daytime television cousin of ""The Jerry Springer Show,"" has a regular feature called ""Baby Boot Camp."" Teen girls who want to have babies and actively have unprotected sex to get their wish are forced to baby-sit newborns for 24 hours. The real-life child caring experience is enough to dissuade anyone from having unprotected sex and the Baby Boot Camp has what appears to be a 100 percent success rate.


Many movies about teen pregnancy have recently been made, but not one of them illustrates a young woman choosing to have an abortion. The movie ""Juno"" is the only movie that even slightly gives the option justice when the title character goes into a clinic. Apparently all it took to dissuade Juno from having an abortion was the idea that her fetus had fingernails. The rest of the media representations of accidental pregnancies glamorized the predicament.


It's no secret that our teen girls are in danger. They are being miseducated in their very own schools and budget cuts don't help the predicament. Americans and Arizonans need to be aware of this problem and do their part to help get comprehensive education into our schools and keep our girls healthy and happy.


-ÿAlexandria Kassman is a Spanish and creative writing senior. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.


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