Thursday, February 17, 2005

Putnam preaches abstinence, but pregnancy rate remains high

"For as long as some school administrators say they can remember, Putnam County had abstinence-based sex education taught in its classrooms.

But the district's most recent agreement with the Putnam County Health Department ends by April and the district lacks funding to run a sex ed program on its own, said Schools Superintendent David Buckles. He said the county's teen pregnancy rate has always been high — especially among younger teens.

'Putnam County is the third highest county in the state in births to girls aged 10 to 14 years,' Buckles said, citing a 2002 report by the state health department. 'It's really pitiful.'


According to the report, an average of 2.5 girls for every 1,000 in the county are mothers at that age, compared to 0.8 young women for every 1,000 in the state.

Before 2002, Putnam had the highest pregnancy rates for that age group in the state, Buckles said. 'We've got kids in middle school and elementary school that are having kids and we have to figure out a way to educate them' on sex-related risks, he said.

A written statement by Buckles on why the district opts to teach abstinence-based sex education refers to some of the risks.


'There is no such thing as safe sex,' the statement reads. '... We believe deviating from abstinence-based sex education might encourage safer sex, but could result in pregnancy or the contracting of sexually transmitted diseases.'"

I'm going to sleep much better tonight knowing that our children are learning essential skills in critical thinking and logic from dedicated educators like Mr. Buckles.

In fact, the folks at the Palatka (FL) Daily News might well be some of his former students. Nowhere in the article does the reporter or any other interviewee even hint at the idea that doing something besides "more of the same" might be in order.

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