Tuesday, October 23, 2007

School Policy

PORTLAND, Me., Oct. 19 — Carissa Porcaro, a student at King Middle School here, did not hide her feelings about the Portland school board’s decision to let the independently operated clinic at her school provide girls access to prescription contraceptives.

Wearing a sticker with the words “I’m against giving out birth control” written in black marker, Carissa, 13, said she did not think the school should make the drugs available. Her mother disagrees.

“She thinks it’s really good,” Carissa said after school on Friday. “I think it’s stupid because what people are saying is that it’s O.K. to be sexually active.”

Two days after the school committee voted 7 to 2 in favor of adding prescription contraceptives to the services offered at the health clinic, the issue continues to draw fervent support and ardent opposition in this city of 64,000, the largest in Maine.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Cathleen Allen, whose son is enrolled at King. “Someone is finally advocating for these students to take care of themselves.”

Ms. Allen added, “It’s an eye-opener for all of us, but when you look at the facts, why not?”

Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is calling on the school committee to rescind its decision, as have the state and city Republican Parties. The city party is also pushing a recall for members who voted in favor.

Nick McGee, the city’s Republican Party chairman, said of the policy, “It is an attack on the moral fabric of our community, and a black eye for our state.”

On Friday, John Coyne, chairman of the school committee and one of the two members who voted against the plan, said he wanted the panel to reconsider the program. Mr. Coyne said that parents should have the option to enroll their children in all aspects of the clinic except reproductive health treatment, and that parents should be made more aware of the state’s confidentiality laws.

“I still don’t feel comfortable with this,” Mr. Coyne said. “There’s no talk about the health issues and the possible long-term ill effects on these young ladies.”

The school’s clinic functions much like a physician’s office and has been offering condoms and testing for pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases since 2000. It also offers dental, mental health and basic care.

The clinics at Portland high schools have offered oral contraceptives for years, said Douglas S. Gardner, the city’s director of health and human services. Health officials decided to extend the policy to middle school after learning that 17 middle school students had become pregnant in the last four years, seven of them in the 2006-7 school year.

“These kids are far too young to be sexually active,” Mr. Gardner said. “You can’t argue that any differently. But there is a small group of kids, and thankfully it’s a small group, who are reporting that they are sexually active, and we need to do all we can to protect them.”

The Portland clinic is not the first in the country to offer such services. Four middle schools in Seattle offer reproductive health care through city-administered health centers, said James Apa, communications manager for Public Health-Seattle and King County. Clinics in six Baltimore middle schools offer access to oral contraceptives, said Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, the city’s health commissioner, who said the program had helped to decrease teenage pregnancy rates.

Nationally, about a quarter of school-based clinics, most of them in high schools, provide some type of contraception, according to the National Assembly on School Based Health Care. Less than 1 percent of schools provide prescription contraception, said a spokeswoman for the organization, Divya Mohan, who said most were high schools. She declined to give the number of middle schools that provided prescription contraception.

Parents in Portland who want their children to have access to the clinic must sign a waiver each year that details the services it offers. Under state law, reproductive health, mental health and substance abuse issues are confidential between medical provider and patient, regardless of the patient’s age.

Of the 500 students at King, 135 have permission to use the clinic, said Principal Michael McCarthy. Of those, five students, all of whom were 14 or 15, reported being sexually active in the last school year. One became pregnant. King is the only one of the city’s three middle schools that has a health clinic.

Postpubescent girls will be able to gain access to prescription contraceptives only after undergoing counseling and being examined by a physician or nurse practitioner who can prescribe oral contraceptives, Mr. Gardner said. The clinic is likely to start prescribing contraceptives at the end of the year, officials said, after parents sign a new waiver.

Students will then be written a prescription for oral contraceptives or be given them at the clinic, depending on each student’s situation. For students who are written a prescription, the school will often try to find a financing source, such as the state’s Medicaid program.

Kitty Purington, whose daughter attends King, says she had mixed feelings about the decision to provide contraceptives to middle school students but thought it was the right one.

“It brings home the fact that my 13-year-old daughter has friends and people around her who are sexually active,” Ms. Purington said. “But at least it’s a good alternative in a not-so-good situation. No one is going to stand up and cheer that 12- and 13-year-olds are having sex, but it’s not anything new.”




How do the cities of Baltimore, Portland, Seattle and NYC differ in their policy in regards to matters of birth control?

Find policies of the cities, and compare to Maine's Middle School policy.

25 comments:

M Kaur said...

think teaching how to use the pill and a condom so if they do do it thay thay have less of a chance to get pregnant, but I don't think that thay should give that to kids at school without parents knowing thay know its happening and can do some thing about it. Another thing is if a student has made up there mind you really cant do any thing about it so I say tell them so they can be safe.If their parents know about it their parents can ground them,and that won't help it jest makes them whant to do it more to get back at their parents.
In New York students are supposed to go to their private doctors for these kind of things. They cn even get a condom in school, but not birth control pills. But in Maine the students have to ask the school for condoms and birth control pills and other health related problems. The people in Maine are more unfortunate because they don't have health insurance like New Yorkers do.

Kristen Fitz said...

I think that the school should not give out the pill because it’s like they are saying here take this and be safe. But there not say don’t have sex your not ready its wrong for you to be doing this now when your older is when you can think about it. The shot I think is good but it’s still new. The resin I think the shot is good is because if something happens and it was not something the other person wants at least they are protected. From and S.T.D’s. If the girls take the pill there bodies are not developed to take it. The pill makes your body think that it is pregnant. These girls are not developed. There bodies are definitely not ready to carry a baby. So now that the girl is on the pill she may not develop properly.

W Brown said...

Lets find policies form NYC, Seattle and Baltimore and compare them to this policy.

Kristen Fitz said...

Oh I forgot I also wanted to say that if it is illegal to have sex under 18 why or how are they allowed to give the pill to students under 18. But we all know student are not going to wait in till they are 18 but the youngest age that should get the pill is 16.

Anonymous said...

Even though I wasn't here for this discussion, but I have to say that in my opinion, I don't think the school is right in giving out condoms/pills. Yeah, it may be a great thing because it protects you from getting STDs and other known diseases, but just imagine if your parents were to find out. They won't sue the school or anything because if it wasn't for them, girls could be pregnant already. Basically, I agree with Kristen. It is very true that its illegal to have sex under the age of 18 because it's at a young age and parents can blame the guy for raping her, etc. When they do reach the age of 18, it's a different story. Schools should still provide condoms and such because they want their students to be safe. They don't wat students to be blaming the school/teachers for not telling them!
-TLau

W Brown said...

Lets try and compare policies... Look up the information... share it, post it....

Lets try and get out of the opinion realm

Bryan S. said...

I agree with Kristen, I dont believe that giving out a pill to middle school children would be the best idea. If you give out a birth control pill to middle school kids they will get the impression of having sex is alright and just by taking this pill nothing will happen, but now middle school students don't know about all of the other stuff having to do with sex. Also like what someone said in class little girls taking this pill could have side effects whether on their body or with their hormones.
Bryan S.

kemi ajirotutu said...

In my opinion I don’t think 13 year olds girls should be using birth control pills like Kristen said they should be at lest 16 and up to go get them there self’s at there private doctor . I don’t think school should be giving that out. 13 year olds should not be active at all. There bodies are not fully developed yet. And birth control can do damage to a 13 year old body. I don’t approve of public schooling should be giving out birth control at all. That they are supposed to get when they are older at there doctors. The lest they can do is give out condoms to help them form giving each other diseases. But not birth control pills, that tells the girls they can have unprotected sex. Which that will lead to diseases. Like STD and HIV. Sex at a young age is not advisable. They should keep teaching sex Ed in schools and giving out condoms but not birth control that will miss up a young girl’s body that's not fully developed yet.

W Brown said...

Can someone please do the research... this opinion stuff is killing me... find out what other school policies are! Find out officially what our school policy is. Who is making these choices?

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think this ridiculous, your what 12,13,14 years old and being given a birth control pill! At that age your body hasn’t fully matured yet and developed. Most girls haven't gotten there period yet at that age. Birth control can mess up most girls body's by gaining unnessery weight and get breasts that are not even fully yours. If you do have your period at that age and take the pill its screws up your cycle. And I agree with Kristen its against the law to have sex under the age of 18 and by advertising birth control to middle school students and they know they are having sex cant those kids or the person subscribing the pill get arrested.

-Leah M

Anonymous said...

what kind of nonsense is this, giving birth controls, condoms, and shots to 13 year olds? Personally i think thats just sending the wrong picture to the kids. Telling them, yes its fine your safe now? I find it so disturbing to lead young kids to this. Kids are still young and what they hear, and see or even the opportunity they have will affect their decisions in being sexually active. I know that the times are changing and kids these days have sex at a young age but it's not everyone who is doing this. Majority of the kids are learning and going to school and being a kid. I also agree with what Kristen said that if having sex is illegal before 18 then why give birth controls to 16 year olds? I personally think we are all giving the wrong picture to the younger generation and if it's turning like this now.. what will happen in 20 years from now?

-Anta R.

Alyssa Cumberbatch said...

As far as official information goes, The Department of Education makes the policies for our school. I tried to research a policy which was most like this case, for a school in New York, but we don't really seem to have this particular type of situation. It's hard to compare a policy from Maine to one of New Yorks, because we're in different environments. I believe if the topic of birth control was brought to a school in Queens before a school in Maine, it wouldn't be a debate in the news paper like it is now.
The policies for QHST can be found on this site: http://schools.nyc.gov/SchoolPortals/26/Q566/AboutUs/Policies/default.htm

Anonymous said...

i did researching and i found this article.
This is just shameful.

http://www.post-gazette.com/lifestyle/
20030914teensexlifestyle1p1.asp

-Anta R.

Anonymous said...

Courteney Richardson

I believe that birth control pills are wrong period , no matter the age of the user. I consider a birth control pill a abortion by mouth. for the fact of a junior high school to hand out b.c pills to minors who aren't even legal as yet should be a crime. if your not old enough to prescribe for the pill then it shouldn't be in your possession. an average middle school student mind really isn't on sex its on clothes and hair styles and sometime dolls. in junior high school I was playing with dolls and still sleeping in bed with my mother. and for the school to put the idea of sucha thing inside of a minors head should be forbidden.

Sorybel Robles said...

I agree with Courteney because birth control bills is not
favorable to teens but also to adults.No matter what age it could also affect your body.Students at age 12 or 13 shouldnt be having sex, but like Alyssa Faller said in class the GENERATION from before when we were in middle school is not the same from now and if you think the one from now is bad wait for the one thats coming ahead.Theres also a law that younger then 18 yr old shouldnt be having sex.I also think its wrong for them to be giving them condoms and pills at that age because thats making them even more curious to experiment. But Maine and Newyork cant compare cause we dont have the same policies.But like we were discussing in class with Johnaton, "If you trust your child you shouldnt have no doubts".

Anonymous said...

Although the situation occcured in Portland im going to relate it with the situation in New York where so many young girls these days are getting pregnant. Which causes a higher percentage increase in high school drop outs as well as over crowded shelters and sadly more baby deaths. Now with looking at the situation in portland I honestley do see flaws in the program but at the same time I rather see conception stopped then 9 months later and a baby found dead in a dumpster.

-Jblount

manpreet kaur said...

I went on the link Anta gave and indeed that article is a shame....
Manpreet Kaur

Anonymous said...

I agree with what most students said about giving out condoms and birth control pills to middle school students. This is not right and it shouldnt be supplied to them in the first place. Some girls are just starting to develop when they are in middle school and birth control pills can mess up them up from inside. Giving the kids birth control pills and condoms just shows that they can do it because its safe. Maybe if they are not supplied birth control pills or condoms, a few kids wont think about having sex while they in middle school because they will learn that its not safe. This is absolutely wrong.
-Simran Kaur

John said...

This idea of handing out the pill isn’t quite as shocking as a few other places, such as Portland. It must also be considered that Portland has a high teen pregnancy rate, but it can be viewed as bit radical. What they are doing in Maine doesn’t seem as bad, but still handing out the pill to fourteen year olds is pretty bad, as is surgically implanting teens with birth control. As with the Maine plan, the plan in Portland is completely optional, and yet there is not as much fever over it. Doesn’t surgically implanting birth control seem a bit more radical than just handing out the pill?

Anonymous said...

I think this is a good idea. Like i said in class kids are going to have sex no matter what. I dont see the problem in helping protect them. Although birth control does not defend stds it lowers the odds to almost zero of a girl getting pregnant. I think birth control shoupld be givin out in highschool along with condoms to ensure no pregnancy and no stds in teens. Matthew morrison

tobin v. said...

In my opinion I think it is wrong what the middle school in Maine is doing. I don’t think children at the ages of 13 to 15 should be receiving birth control pills and that they also shouldn’t be having sex. But I agree with what Sorybel and Alyssa said about the fact that kids these days are more aware of sex than when we were in middle school. I also agree with what Kristen said if it’s illegal to have sex under the age of 18 then we shouldn’t be offering birth control pills to anyone under the age of 18. I was doing research and the State of Washington, has similar laws like in Maine. Anyone in the State of Washington has to right to chose or refuse birth control.

Anonymous said...

schools should not at all give out pills to students at a young age i would understand if they was in highschool but if there 13 they have no clue whats going on anf if you feed this into there mind showing them what to use and will protect them then there going to feel its okay to have sex and they dont have nothing to worrie. Giving them condoms will be better than pills because those pills are strong and can mess up your body. then again i feel it should be given out to these kids at a young ages because its not like there innocent there doing things and plus if parents tell them not to do it do you really think there going to listen...they should be focusing on telling them the bad things about it and explains the responsibilites in way they not do it at a early age...

i got this note from researching about school polices its shows how they was able fine a better way of putting info out to kids for sex education...

"Focus on understanding the continuing changes that occur in puberty and dealing with issues or concerns that they may cause" http://www.bosmere.hants.sch.uk/policyforsexeducation.htm

kristal atchison

Alex P said...

With television, internet, movies and things on the street these days, kids will find out about almost anything at any age. I agree with johnathan and matt. For those people who think this is wrong, what are you going to say when hundreds of girls in schools are pregnant because they werent aware of any type of protection? Even if we think kids that age shouldnt be having sex, do you think our opinions will stop them? It will only make them more curious to tell them not to do it then not take any action to prevent pregnancy

W Brown said...

ANYTHING AFTER THIS IS A WEEK LATE

W Brown said...

Closed for Marking Period 1