Access to Minors in Middle School Term Paper

Pages: 12 (3923 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Women's Issues - Sexuality

Students' Access to Birth Control Services

Confidential Condom and Birth Control Pills for Middle School Students?

The argument put forward in this paper is that today's teenager, whether in senior high school or middle school, should be given access to confidential health care - e.g., condoms and prescription birth control - in order to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy, and to avoid the physical and psychological ramifications of pregnancy. Teens are sexually active at an earlier age than previously - that fact along with other pertinent data will be substantiated in this paper. It is also true that teens tend not to request contraceptive materials until after they have become sexually active, and generally speaking, the realities and complications that accompany a pregnant girl in her early teens far outweighs problems and issues associated with a school handing out condoms and providing females with appropriate birth control medications.

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And indeed, there are good points-of-view on both sides of this issue. Many passionately expressed points-of-view were publicized nationally recently when the school board for King Middle School in Portland Maine authorized school officials to make condoms and contraceptives available to students (in a confidential, authorized health care setting). And while an objective review of the issues surrounding this controversy will be present, the bottom line for this paper is that the policy put forward by the well-informed, courageous people at King Middle School, is the correct policy.

Term Paper on Access to Minors in Middle School Assignment

A brief review of the King Middle School controversy is worthwhile at the outset of this paper. In October, 2007, by a 7-2 vote, the School Committee set in motion a policy that authorizes the health center to give a "full range of contraception" to students in grades 6 to 8 (that is 11 to 15 years of age), according to the Portland Press Herald (Nov. 26, 2007). King Middle School has been providing condoms "as part of comprehensive reproductive health care" since 2,000, but under this new policy, this school is the first in Maine to offer the full range of contraception to middle school students.

This decision by King Middle School has stirred up controversy nationwide, but as to local reaction, the Portland Press Herald reports there is a recall movement to remove three members of the School Committee - Rebecca Minnick, Robert O'Brien, and Sarah Thompson. These three were apparently among the leadership in the committed that spearheaded the move to expand the contraception program. And the newspaper also reports that indeed students require written parental permission to be treated at the King Middle School health center, Maine state law allows students "...to receive confidential care for reproductive health, mental health, and substance abuse issues," the Portland Press Herald explains.

Reader comments posted on the Portland Press Herald on December 4 reflected the emotions stirred by the controversy (http://pressherald.maintoday.com)."Schools are for education not health care. Health care is between a parent and child, not government" ("silence dogood, Augusta ME); "...This recall will cost Portland taxpayers $35-50,000. Glad Portland has the money to burn." (Oldguy, Biddeford, ME); "Access is critical in health care matters, particularly for young people...isn't it better to give them the protection they need then to risk the consequences?" (parker66, South Portland, ME).

LITERATURE REVIEW

Parents Have the Right to Know When Their Children Receive Family Planning Services at School," an essay by Tana L. Green (Opposing Viewpoints: Students' Rights 2005), points to the author's belief that parents should be informed when their children are being given birth control advice and materials. When parents are not informed of these facts, their authority as parents is undermined, Green writes, and she clearly implies that at this time students are receiving contraceptives and birth control advice without their parents' knowledge. A survey that Green uses in his essay shows that there has been a dramatic increase in school-based healthcare clinics in recent years; in 1990 there were 200 school-based clinics (SBCs); by 2005, that number had skyrocketed to 1,135, according to Green's sources. Part of that rise in numbers of clinics was due to the HIV / AIDS pandemic, she points out, but "...the truth is," Green continues, "SBCs don't protect young people from AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Green flatly states that once the SBC is in place, having been "stealthily" created, they work through PR strategies to "gain community support and a buy-in from parents" and then begin dispensing birth control information and condoms. She paints a picture of deception, and of SBCs that "chip away at parental rights." Green also suggests that SBCs are "heavily located exclusively in poor urban, black neighborhoods," which raises the issue of institutional racism and bias. Going further in her contentions about ethnic bias, Green even asserts that there is a "veiled genocidal scheme" in that birth control clinics (SBCs) established in schools that are predominately African-American are not there just to provide for the health and safety of the students. They are there to keep black people from expanding their population numbers, which she does not back up with data, notwithstanding the provocative nature of her accusation.

The suggestion here by Green is that racist policies are behind the push for more SBCs in black schools, and the main substantiating point she offers is that the Centers for Disease Control reports that abortion rates are higher in "urban areas" (translate that, the hood), and that "36% of all abortions are performed on black woman...although blacks constitute 13% of the total population" (Green 2005).

Those controversial assertions aside, Green's main point at the conclusion of the article is that "parents must therefore stay informed... [and] make their voices heard when administrators attempt to usurp their authority by making decisions for their children."

Requiring Parental consent for Contraceptive Services Puts Teens at Risk" is an essay written by Christine Watkins (National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, 2005), which in effect rebuts the previous essay by Green. Watkins alludes to Title X of the Public Health Services Act, which provides money for clinics to offer "a variety of contraceptives, counseling, and testing" for STDs. She claims that annually, publicly funded family planning services "help teenagers to avoid almost 400,000 unintended pregnancies." Without publicly funded family planning services, Watkins continues, teen pregnancies would have been about 20% higher over the past twenty or so years.

There are legislators who have attempted to amend Title X so that parental consent would be required in all cases of minors using birth control services, but Watkins insists that studies she is familiar with show teens either "delay or avoid" going to use those services. That delay or avoidance on the part of teams places them "at risk for unwanted, unplanned pregnancies" as well as putting them at risk to get STDs - including HIV / AIDS.

Watkins backs up her contention with data; to wit, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published research in 2002 that found some "59% of the teens" in their survey said that "knowing their parents would be notified would prevent them from seeking family planning services." Of those, 99% said they "would still have sex" with or without birth control assistance. As additional backup for her positions, Watkins writes that in the year following the elimination of parental consent for HIV testing in Connecticut, "...the number of teens aged 13-17 obtaining HIV tests doubled."

Moreover, fifty-eight percent of high school students in three public schools in Massachusetts responded to a survey by indicating they "did not want to share with their parents" their personal health concerns. Until the Green essay, Watkins' article is heavy with data supporting her position, including a list of nationally recognized medical and healthcare organizations that "oppose mandatory parental notification" or requirements for parental consent "in order for young people to obtain family planning services." Those organizations include: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Academy of Pediatrics; American Academy of Family Physicians; American Public Health Association; American Medical Women's Association; and the National Medical Association.

Even the American Medical Association (AMA), not known for progressive or liberal leanings, has as a policy statement opposition to "...regulations that require parental notification when prescription contraceptives are provided to minors" through programs that are federally funded. The reason for the AMA's opposition to regulations requiring parents to be notified is that those regulations "...create a breach of confidentiality in the physician-patient relationship."

It is important to note that "the vast majority of teens" that seek to be served at a Title X clinic have been sexually active; in other words, teens don't just suddenly decide they will become involved in a sexual relationship and go to a clinic for birth control assistance. In face, "on average," Watkins' article states, "teens are sexually active for 14 months prior to making a family planning visit." By requiring parental approval, Watkins goes on, states and other jurisdictions are "erecting roadblocks" to good health strategies to youth, many of whom are "attempting to behave responsibly" by attending the clinic in… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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