This is from a fellow teen activist in North Carolina, and the original post is on Amplify:
Every 26 seconds another teen becomes pregnant. That means that before the end of my speech, there will be another 11 young ladies faced with the difficulties of a pregnancy, the challenges of motherhood, and the chore of growing up way before their time. A rate of one teen every 26 seconds equates to 3,323 teens in one day and 1,212,923 in one year and last year, I was one of those teens. On March 31, 2008 I became pregnant at the age of 17. I, like many other girls at my school, had the daunting task of dealing the pressures of a pregnancy and continuing with my schooling. And after my daughter arrived I had to deal with the challenges of motherhood while working on graduating, all before the age of 18. My junior year in high school, I became a statistic, a statistic that could have easily been avoided.
I was raised in the North Carolina public school system. When it comes to sex education, North Carolina incorporates an abstinence only program. But to be completely honest, when it came to sex education in school, there was none. The only from of sex education that I received was information that I got from my friends. Sadly that information was subpar. So on December 22, 2008 instead of enjoying my Christmas vacation from school, I was lying in a hospital bed in Wake Med preparing to give birth to a seven pound seven ounce baby. At 3:17 that afternoon Faith Nicole Bailey made her appearance here on Earth and my life challenged dramatically. I love my daughter more than anything in this world, but sometimes I can’t help but wonder “what if”.
I, like so many other teens, am placed in an unfair situation. We live in society where the topic of sex is one that is so openly portrayed but hardly discussed. We are taught topics of controversy but when it comes to getting the needed information about leading healthy lifestyles we are shorthanded. We are told that abstinence is the way to go and then are sent home to television programs and commercials that are filled with the sexual themes and innuendos. We are bombarded with movies filled with sex scenes and songs filled with lyrics about sex but we are expected to act like it doesn’t exist. The reality is that it does exist and more than 50% of teens are sexually active by the time they leave high school. That’s 50% of teens that are uninformed about the importance of contraceptives and how to lead healthy lifestyles. That is 50% that are risking exposure to STIs and risking the chance of becoming pregnant and giving up their youth too soon. I was in that 50%, and as a result I juggle my wants and needs with the wants and needs of a 9 month old.
North Carolina’s school system incorporates abstinence only programs, a program that has proven to be inefficient. North Carolina currently has the 9th highest pregnancy rate in the country. Not only that but abstinence only programs has shown no signs of reducing teen pregnancy, delaying sexual initiation or reducing STIs. Comprehensive sex education on the other hand has proven to do all three. With a strong emphasis placed on abstinence being the only way 100% effective way to prevent pregnancy and STIs, comprehensive sex education also provides information about contraceptives and the importance of protecting yourself. A lot of people that are against comprehensive sex education believe that by incorporating it into schools will result in an increase in the amount of kids having sex. The opposite has proven to be true. The implementation of comprehensive programs has proven to delay the age at which teens become active. With positive results like this why would you choose to do otherwise?
Four minutes later and 11 more teens have become pregnant. That’s 11 too many. Abstinence only programs have failed our teens. I know because it failed me. As I put my daughter to bed only to go and start my homework I see how it’s failed. It’s time to incorporate a program that works. North Carolina is on its way to doing that. Recently, the Healthy Youth Act, which ensures that all North Carolina youth receive comprehensive sex education, was passed. While this is a step in the right direction, funding for comprehensive sex education is not secured nationally. That’s why it is important to support the REAL Act. The REAL Act would appropriate monies specifically for science based programs that have proven to be effective and to achieve the goal of preventing teen pregnancies. It is time to speak out against a subpar education. By supporting the REAL Act, and signing the petition, a step will be taken towards getting the needed information about leading healthy lifestyles. It is important to present teens with the information that they need to make healthy decisions so that no one else is forced to be just another statistic.