May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

Letter to the Editor by Kim Slote of PP Collier County
Naples Daily News

Published: 05.28.09| Updated: 05.28.09

May is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.

Did you know that the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate among developed countries, and that Florida has the sixth-highest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S.? Combine that with a new Centers for Disease Control study showing that one in four teenage girls has a sexually transmitted infection, and it is safe to say that the health and future of our young women are at risk.

Despite these alarming statistics, there has been a sharp decline in the number of teens who receive comprehensive sex education in school, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 2002, only 66 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls learned about birth control in school, a sharp drop from 1995 when the numbers stood at 81 percent to 87 percent.

The reason for this? More than $1.5 billion nationally has been wasted on “abstinence-only-until-marriage” programs that studies now show are ineffective. Of these federal funds, Florida has spent over $10 million annually.

Although abstinence education is a core part of comprehensive sex education, “abstinence-only” means that teens receive inaccurate or no information on contraception, and no information on ways to prevent HIV/AIDS, other than through abstinence.

Let’s urge Gov. Charlie Crist to follow the lead of 17 other governors and reject federal “abstinence-only” money. Let’s press our Legislature to pass the Healthy Teens Act, which would ensure that teens have medically accurate information about both abstinence and contraception.

Let’s give our teens the tools to make responsible, educated decisions once they do decide to become sexually active.

Kim Slote, Director of Education & Advocacy, Planned Parenthood of Collier County

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