Interesting News (4/5/12)

From the serious to the seriously silly, there’s always some interesting news going on…

Today, providing high school students with sex education and health services results in a dramatic decrease in teen pregnancy (serious) and the (totally subjective and pretty funny) 50 worst songs to have sex to (seriously silly!!).

Enjoy!!

1. An amazing piece by Patrick Welsh, an English teacher at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria,VA. Just read…

“The Alexandria, Va., school system made a decision in 2010 that will ultimately do more to improve the test scores and behavior at T.C. Williams High School than all the educational innovations it has spent millions of dollars on over the years. The school moved an adolescent health center that since 1986 had been three blocks from the campus into the school, right next to the guidance office. Rechristened the ‘Teen Wellness Center,’ the clinic is staffed by a full-time primary care physician and a nurse practitioner.

Since the move, student use of the clinic has almost doubled. In a school where 55% of more than 2,000 students are on the free and reduced lunch program and many have no medical insurance, a free clinic can deal with health issues that might otherwise go untreated or cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in emergency room care.

Of all the benefits of the move, the most striking to me and other veteran teachers here on the front lines is that we have not been seeing as many girls making their way down the hallways seven or eight months pregnant. Our impression was confirmed by David Wynne, the school’s social worker, who says that two years ago, when the clinic was still off campus, there were 50 pregnancies. Last year, the first year the clinic was in the school, the number was 35 and as of now, there are only 20 with the year more than two-thirds over. He thinks the drop in pregnancies is due to the convenient access to the clinic, plus the ease of getting contraceptives, including the Plan B ‘morning after’ pill.”

Holy goodness – access to health care services and sexual health education in a public school!! And, even more amazing, the kids’ behavior patterns change.

Let’s read more…

“Based on what I’ve seen at T.C. Williams, I favor giving contraceptives to all who ask, and here’s why:

First, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, just half of girls who had children before age 18 graduate from high school, and less than 2% earn a college degree by age 30. And not only is the future of the teen mother imperiled, but that of her children as well. About two-thirds of children born to teen mothers earned a high school diploma vs. 81% of children of older mothers, the organization also noted…

Second, the U.S. teen birth rate has been steadily declining. In 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it fell to 34.3 per 1,000 females ages 15-19, the lowest level reported for the U.S. The CDC says there has been a decrease in the number of teens having sex and an increase in those using contraceptives.

Even so, according to the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, a national advocacy organization in Washington that is supported by foundations and the federal government, 60% of the more than 1,100 public high school clinics are forbidden from dispensing contraceptives, based, for the most part, on the politics of individual school districts.”

Amazing!!

“A common argument against dispensing birth control to teens is that it will encourage more teens to have sex. It’s also a big myth. The South, which has the highest percentage of schools (55%) that require abstinence be taught as the only means of preventing pregnancy, has the highest rate of teen births. Indeed, the reason that the U.S. teen birth rate is more than twice that of Canada and other nations is not that teens in those countries have been practicing abstinence, but that they have had easier access to birth control and are more likely to obtain abortions.

Of course, teenage pregnancy does happen in any racial, ethnic or income group. But school-based clinics are giving our most vulnerable students a chance to escape the cycle of poverty by keeping them child-free, while at the same time benefiting society as a whole.

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teen childbearing cost U.S. taxpayers at least $10.9 billion in 2008. For that same year, teen child-bearing in Virginia cost taxpayers $215 million.

For the most vulnerable girls, who might still be struggling to see themselves as successful, schools like mine are ultimately choosing the greater good by doing everything possible to prevent a pregnancy that could severely limit their futures.” (text in full originally here)

There are a lot of issues at play within the context of this post, Patrick’s insights, and the wider issues they touch on. For example, who’s to say what life course is the proper one for a person. Along similar lines, who’s to say when is the “correct” time to do anything or that X will necessarily lead to Y in human behavior. We also have issues of individual good and social good (and who gets to decide what that is??).

Here’s the thing: people, including teens – developing humans who are often treated like they’re too stupid to think (they’re not) – need to be empowered to make informed decisions. Providing young people with facts and figures and services is not going to make them pregnant – having sex is. But if teens are empowered to make informed decisions about sex… well, then they’ll have at least one tool in their toolbox to help them act on their own terms.

Or we could just continue to beat around the bush, withholding information and perhaps by playing music that will repel teens from sex??

To wit, here’s…

2. …the 50 worst songs to have sex to!!

Some guy named Eliot compiled a list of 50 songs he thinks are the worst soundtracks *ever* for sexy time.

Is this list somehow objective and correct? No. How did Eliot compile and rank them? Who cares!! This list is for fun only, but it’s interesting to take a little trip down music memory lane – what do these songs invoke in you?

The entire list is here, but some of the funnier ones (with my thoughts inserted) are below – enjoy!!

49. Limp Bizkit, “Nookie” – oh, the unfortunate sounds of late undergrad… how is this song only 49th worst?
43. Laura Brannigan, “Gloria” – …unless someone’s name is Gloria, right?
37. Bruce Hornsby, “The Way It is” – isn’t this a song about deep-seated social inequalities and the difficulties associated with enacting meaningful change?
36. Ke$ha, “Tik Tok” –  isn’t this a song about deep-seated social inequalities and the difficulties associated with enacting meaningful change? (just kidding)
30. Anything by Brooke Hogan – heeeeee!!
28. Fiona Apple, “Never Is A Promise” – this is a rough song written when Ms. Apple was very young and very raw… meh
23. Chumbawumba, “I Get Knocked Down” – whaaa…?
18. Ashlee Simpson, “La La” – oh come on now…

“You make me wanna la la
In the kitchen on the floor
I’ll be your french maid
When I’ll meet you at the door
I’m like an alley cat
Drink the milk up I want more
You make me wanna
You make me wanna scream”

…what’s wrong with that? It’s perfect poppy pop, great for all ages!! (and people complain about porn…)

14. Sarah McLachlan, “Angel”/”Aida” – haha come on, self-deprecation and regret? what’s *not* sexy about either of those things??
7. Celine Dion, “Love Can Move Mountains” – anything by Celine Dion is amazing, I don’t care what anyone says!!
1. Eric Clapton, “Tears In Heaven” – that’s a song about his son dying :(

Anyway, I would be really mad if Ashlee jumped on my mini-van like that. It would definitely make me wanna la la her something fierce – enjoy!!

 

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