Conservative Solution to Teen Pregnancy: Coca Cola?

Cola-Cola and legsTeens don’t feel ready for babies? Let them drink coke!

Take this pop quiz: A sexually active teen doesn’t feel ready to raise a baby, so she goes to the health clinic at her high school. Which of the following should be available to her: A. the best birth control options recommended by medical experts for sexually active teens. B. Coca Cola.

You’d be amazed at how many Right-Wing commentators just got this wrong. Or maybe you wouldn’t.

Fox and friends are celebrating summer by assaulting a teen health program in Washington State that offers young women the top tier contraceptives recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Centers for Disease Control, meaning IUDs and implants that totally tank the teen pregnancy rate (as they did in Colorado) and have bonus health benefits like cancer protection and lighter less frequent periods.

Want to know why the AAP and CDC recommend these methods for sexually active teens? On the Pill, almost 1 in 10 couples gets pregnant each year. For those relying on condoms, that’s 1 in 6, and abstinence vows are virtually useless . With a matchstick-sized implant preferred by many sexually active teens, the pregnancy rate drops to 1 in 2000! The vast majority of teen pregnancies (over 80%) are accidents, including for black and Latina girls who get pregnant at a higher rate than whites but who, if you bother to ask them, say that they have other plans and dreams.

More and more evidence shows that adolescent brains aren’t done developing, and without strong support, many teens end up with very different lives than the ones they had envisioned. When girls give birth during high school only 40 percent go on to graduate and only two percent finish college by age 30.

So, stacking the odds in favor of teens graduating high school and helping them wait to become parents when they are ready might seem like a no-brainer—but not Fox News, Breitbart and other right-leaning news outlets. Upon learning about Washington’s leading edge program, they fear-bombed their audience of aging Duck Dynasty fans with images of (mythical) 11-year-olds sneaking into school clinics to get IUD’s behind the backs of their doting parents. Commentators including Penny Nance from the fundamentalist Christian group Concerned Women for America ranted that teens who can get health services can’t get Coca-Cola on campus. OMG! GOVERNMENT OVERREACH! PARENT RIGHTS! LIBERALS HAVE LOST IT! Then they sat back and watched the social media fireworks.

What is so hard to understand about the idea that 1. Teens have a much better chance at finishing school and launching well if they don’t get whomped by surprise pregnancy. 2. Kids who have access to accurate information about their bodies and excellent healthcare are less likely to end up pregnant. 2. Not every youth has a loving supportive parent who they can trust to help them get the information and care when they need it. (In fact, some kids have a parent who is fucking them, literally, or looking the other way while someone else does.) And 3. Defenders of the Duggars and the Catholic Church who conjure up mythical 11-year-olds sluts are probably revealing more about themselves than they mean to.

For the record:  Yes, Seattle youth have a legal right to independently seek confidential sexual and reproductive health care—at any age, actually. (Teens have this right in half of states.) Mind you, a pre-teen who asks for sexual healthcare alone would raise red flags. Most teens become sexually active around their senior year in high school, and the younger a kid is having sexual contact the more likely he or she is being abused or exploited.

Yes, Seattle teens can get reproductive health care in school-based clinics, an international model that has existed for a generation. And yes, in Seattle those services do include access to the same top tier contraceptive options and standard of adolescent medical care available in private clinics, regardless of ability to pay. That includes state-of-the-art IUD’s and implants that are recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and CDC as the best option for sexually active teens.

In Washington State we take care of our teens even when they don’t have a wise loving parent they can turn to for assistance or permission slips—in fact, especially when they don’t have a wise loving parent they can turn to. That’s when young people most need a village that includes teachers, counselors, and medical professionals. What exactly do citizens of Foxland do if a teen has parents who are too addicted, abusive, sexually abusive, mentally ill, or estranged to help when they need guidance and care? What kind of horrid people say, Sorry, if you can’t trust your parent to sign a permission slip, then we’re not there for you either?

And P.S. No, kids can’t buy coke in school, because who effing needs it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About Valerie Tarico

Seattle psychologist and writer. Author - Trusting Doubt and Deas and Other Imaginings. Founder - www.WisdomCommons.org.
Gallery | This entry was posted in Reproductive Health and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Conservative Solution to Teen Pregnancy: Coca Cola?

  1. wostraub says:

    Coca-Cola may not be quite as effective as conventional birth control methods, but you’ll have to admit that’s its cold, crisp, delicious taste beats that of a birth control pill any day. Plus, by engaging in diligent prayer, purity balls and virginity pledges (“I hereby pledge my precious virginity to Daddy”), God might just make that glass of ice-cold, refreshing Coca-Cola unnecessary as a birth control alternative.

    Like

  2. archaeopteryx1 says:

    If you analyze the Faux News reaction, it should be clear that the objective is to stop kids from fucking – that is impossible, but they can’t seem to clearly see that.

    Like

  3. Hank Pellissier says:

    Hi Valerie  I am going on vacation tomorrow for 1 month to Thailand with my family.  I will be largely offline and not working. I will be back on August 11 Can you send this article to James Hughes and Marcelo Rinesi ?  I think when I am gone IEET will be semi-slowed down but they will post an article per day, I imagine. James is at director@ieet.orgMarcelo is at marcelo@ieet.org see you on August 12 Hank

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  4. Lowell Bushey says:

    Hi, Valerie,

    You’ve made the important point that a school official receiving a request for birth control from an 11- or 12-year-old girl should immediately contact child protective services. There’s a further point to be made here: We need to create an atmosphere where an 11- or 12-year-old isn’t afraid to contact school officials! Who could be against that? (except, of course, the “family values” folks :))

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      That is indeed a conundrum, Lowell, as if the school official she trusts is obligated to report her contact to Social Services, the victim in this instance faces time in the foster care system, which is itself something to be feared.

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      • Yes. In a situation like that, there is no good option–only the question of how to minimize and mitigate harms.

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      • Lowell Bushey says:

        You have a point here. I don’t have any expertise in this area (my field is Economics), but my “gut” tells me that, if the child is indeed being sexually abused by a relative, foster care is the lesser of evils. I’ve known two people (one male, one female) who were sexually abused as children, and they both were emotionally scarred by it.

        Lowell Bushey

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      • Yes, you’re gut lines up with what experts generally think, and so do I. But that unfortunately doesn’t stop foster placement from being frightening and even scarring for many children.

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        …if the child is indeed being sexually abused by a relative, foster care is the lesser of evils” – In YOUR mind, yes – but in the mind of the child, sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. Fear of the unknown – which we all experience – could well prevent the child from coming forward.

        I’m not saying you’re wrong, Lowell, I’m saying that mandatory reporting might not be the best solution. Let’s say that a family member is indeed molesting a child, and the child comes to a counselor with the problem – if the counselor is mandated to report, the child immediately goes into the system, further compounding his/her trauma, and the next child with a similar problem, seeing what happened to the first, may well decide to remain silent.

        If, on the other hand, the counselor had some leeway – e.g., going to the parents, telling them that if the behavior doesn’t end immediately, authorities will be called – might be the least traumatic for the child.

        Of course I would like to see all child molesters locked away, but my greatest concern is not that cold, impersonal justice is served, but that the child suffers the least amount of trauma – first do no harm should be the mantra of counselors as well.

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    • Only 2 percent of youth initiate sex before their 12th birthday, so that request would raise all kinds of red flags. Mandatory reporting kicks in with a suspicion of abuse. That said, once in a while two kids of the same age are simply exploring their bodies, so some wisdom and discernment are necessary.

      As a therapist, I was always very up front with my teens about what I would need to report and I promised that if I was in that situation we would talk about it together and figure out how best to go about it.

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      • Lowell Bushey says:

        It’s good to know that you’re up front with your clients, especially if it involves a mandatory requirement. Obviously, you have their best interests at heart!

        Lowell Bushey

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  5. Lowell Bushey says:

    archaeopteryx1,

    I see Valerie hasn’t weighed in on your comment, so I’ll certainly defer to her expertise should she choose to do so.

    I’ll certainly concede that removing the pedophile is preferred to removing the child. Nonetheless, IMO, threats are useless unless a non-molesting family member is willing and able to do that. Again, IMO, it’s obvious that no one learns to be a pedophile; it has to be an innate condition. If indeed I’m right, keeping the status quo, with the pedophile in the same household as the child, won’t work, regardless of the number of threats.

    Lowell Bushey

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    • archaeopteryx1 says:

      it’s obvious that no one learns to be a pedophile; it has to be an innate condition” – I’ve never found it possible, Lowell, to separate heredity from environment, nature from nurture.

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      • Lowell Bushey says:

        Although it can’t be definitively ascertained whether a trait is hereditary (nature) or learned (nurture), one can make reasonable assumptions. I live in a college town (Pullman, WA), and we have tremendous diversity among the population (both students and faculty). I’ve lived here for 16 years, and, as a result, I’ve been able to observe traits/behaviors that are nearly universal regardless of ethnic/cultural background, and behaviors that vary considerably from culture to culture. (The list is too long to name, and I don’t want to bore you. :))

        My discipline (Economics) involves the heavy use of probability and statistics. Many of my assumptions are based on simple probability. If a trait is almost universal across cultures, the probability that it is an innate characteristic is nearly 100%. If, on the other hand, a trait varies considerably from culture to culture, the probability that it is an innate characteristic is nearly zero! Incest and (with the exception of countries that allow child brides) pedophilia are taboo in virtually all cultures. A trait that’s taboo (forbidden) in nearly all cultures is extremely unlikely to have been learned. Accordingly, I’ve made the assumption that, in all probability, pedophilia is an innate characteristic. The odds to the contrary are, IMO, astronomically against!

        Lowell Bushey

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      • archaeopteryx1 says:

        Many of my assumptions are based on simple probability” – Mine too, I J-walk a lot.

        In the 19th century, the Trobriand Islanders, of Paupua, New Guinea, did not understand the relationship between sex and pregnancy. They believed that the spirit of a deceased lineage member, a baloma, placed babies in the wombs of their mothers. No man in the tribe realized that he was a father, and often had sex with his own daughters, as it was the responsibility of the parents to ascertain that their young boys and girls, upon entering marriage, understood what was required to please their marriage partner. The women were kind enough to provide the same instruction for the boys. Actually, children of 7 or 8 began making sexual overtures to each other, in imitation of their parents, and by puberty, were having sex regularly and freely.

        Interestingly, in such a sexually free society, it was found that there was no crime. Rape was virtually unheard of.

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  6. RW says:

    I have actually heard of women using Coca-Cola douching as a birth control method. This was in pre-Griswold days. Nobody considers douching to be effective at preventing pregnancy, but it definitely reduces the odds of pregnancy. Like coitus interruptus, douching, if done fairly consistently, (especially immediately after intercourse), can probably reduce a woman’s lifetime total number of pregnancies. These two practices may have been partly responsible for the decline in US women’s average number of children over the 19th century.

    Coke’s high acidity (pH lower than 3) would make it a good spermicide (acidity of 4 pH immobilizes sperm within 1 minute and kills them within 10 mins: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10731526 ).

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