The birds, the bees and the STDS
Buffalo schools require an efficient sex ed program
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Abstinence-only sex education doesn’t work, and Buffalo Public School students have quickly proven it.
A report by The New York Civil Liberties Union analyzed sex education curricula taught at 82 school districts and found disturbing errors: medical inaccuracies, incomplete information, ineffective abstinence-only instruction and gender biases.
Even more disturbing and closer to home came the statistics from the Buffalo Public Schools 2011 Youth Risk Behaviors Survey. BPS students have a 20 percent higher sex rate than the state average, 16 percent of Buffalo middle school students are having sex (nearly half of those students report having had three or more sexual partners) and the total number of students with four or more sexual partners is 41 percent higher than the state average.
The statistics are hard to choke down, but here’s one more for the road: almost half of BPS students were reported as never learning about HIV/AIDS in school. If kids can’t be stopped from having sex – and let’s face it, they can’t – then there is an immediate need to help educate them. These kids are making poor decisions because they aren’t being educated.
Christopher Spicer of Planned Parenthood of WNY associated it with one of Buffalo’s biggest problems: “Unintended teen pregnancy is a major contributor to poverty. And Buffalo has an issue with poverty.”
The poverty connection is understandable. Raising a child is expensive, and raising a child when you’re a teenager and the best job you can get is at your local grocery store is a struggle. You have streets full of teenagers who can’t support their children financially so those children grow up in poverty and are neglected a good education in turn.
Buffalo’s problem is this cycle, where people in poverty stay in poverty and pass it on because there are no opportunities to get out of it. It all goes back to education. This would happen far less if students were just educated – and not just about abstinence but also how to be safe and protected. If you tell kids how wrong sex is and they shouldn’t have it or are even forbidden to have it, the natural reaction for a teenager is to rebel.
But one of the main arguments is always if you give a teenager contraception, they’re going to have it as an excuse to have sex. Many would still rather take the risk to not provide contraceptives or even the knowledge of how to use them in the hope that they won’t have sex. In other words, the sex education system is based on hopes and prayers.
Buffalo Public Schools are now taking a step in the right direction by working with Planned Parenthood, Buffalo Community Council on Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, the Erie County Department of Health and other community partners to host community forums addressing youth sex in the city.
Now they need to take the next step and actually give these kids something that will help and save them.