12/16/11, No. 10
I am responding to your 14 December, 2011, editorial, “Teen pregnancies: Hope is the solution.” As you point out, the Teen Pregnancy Task Force found that Baker County—rural and 84% white, with Macclenny for a county seat and streaming Confederate flags, leads not only the state but the entire U.S. in teen pregnancies.
The question that must be posed is: is teen pregnancy so bad? For one thing, these people who oppose teen pregnancy, do they regard procreation with a frown of disapproval?
For another thing, try birthing a baby in your late thirties and raising it in your forties, and you will rethink timing. A parent old enough to pass for the kid’s grandparent inevitably is going to think, “Why didn’t I have my kids back when I was a teen?” Putting off pregnancy assumes no problems will occur. In vitro fertilization? Flying to China to adopt?
Conversely, have you ever heard of a sixteen-year-old girl who couldn’t conceive? or of her seventeen-year-old boyfriend who couldn’t get her ‘knocked up’? And at that age, after nine months the baby just pops out. Then the girls can go back to partying; at least they do if they are Casey Anthony.
Obviously, this is the way God intended the human reproductive process to work.
And yet, against all the physical evidence, that is, the evidence of every muscle and joint scolding the older parent who put off child bearing, people still will insist that teen pregnancy is a bad thing. So, I propose this remedy: Baker County schools should drop their current abstinence-only sex education approach and instead implement teaching it alongside the rhythm method. I don’t think any studies have ever compared a curriculum pitting abstinence-only against the rhythm method. And if any have been conducted, I wouldn’t bother reading them. I wouldn’t want to become confused by the facts.
My own research leads me to conclude the rhythm method will be more effective. In the year 388 AD, Augustine of Hippo wrote of ‘periodic abstinence.’ This seems to be the earliest recorded reference to the rhythm-method practice, at least according to Wikipedia, which is not only attached to my brain, but which also has pretty much taken it over. I have a hypothesis—Greek for hunch—and my hunch is that ‘periodic abstinence’ will lead to fewer pregnancies. As opposed to ‘abstinence only,’ which, judging from the results in Baker County, leads to kids having sex just about all of the time without let up. And not having a clue how to avoid pregnancy. At least when teaching the rhythm method, the oxymoronic conjunction of terms ‘avoiding pregnancy’ and ‘having sex’ will get mentioned in the same sentence. And this happy oxymoron will lay the foundation for the concept that it is possible to not have sex all of the time.
In other words, PERIODIC abstinence. At least that’s a start!
‘Periodic abstinence’ plants the notion in the developing teen brain that, 1, abstinence really exists; 2, a little bit of it is not too much to ask; 3, if a little bit is do-able, a little more for longer periods is achievable too (didn’t Sigmund Freud have a word for this?); and 4, for those moments when it is no longer achievable, check if the moon is in the right phase.
It’s a slippery slope argument, with the slope tipping down in the right direction.
Of course, this is not to say that the rhythm method is fool proof. Oh my gosh! In my Catholic high school, the football coach, who also taught the sex ed class, said that there was a name for couples who practiced the rhythm method and that that name was “parents.” Ha-ha. Very funny. After my mother passed away (may she rest in peace), I had the mis/fortune to find her records from the time before my birth, and let me just say that I was not ‘planned.’ And that’s why I am the way I am today. Whatever THAT is.
But I am okay with knowing I wasn’t planned. . . . Really. . . . It’s okay! I can handle it. Now, if my mother had been practicing abstinence only, at least the way they do it in Baker County, I probably would have had to share the TV with about dozen siblings, and every night I would have had to hard scrabble for my portion of dinner.