Our Children, Our Faith
As individual parents, and as members of society, we all want what is best for our young people. With respect to sexuality, we would like to protect them from untimely pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and help them avoid meaningless sexual relationships and instead, to seek and find a true and lifelong love.
If we are people of Faith, we further believe that our children are a precious gift from God, and that He has entrusted to us, their parents, not only the primary responsibility for providing for their well-being, but also called parents to teach them the spiritual values which will enable them to find fulfillment in life. These include the values given by God to guide young women and men with respect to sexual love:
- Human sexuality is meant to reflect the faithful love of God – in marriage.
- Human sexuality is the means by which new life comes into the world.
- Human beings are made in the image of God, and are to be protected from conception to natural death.
In recent years, the public schools and state agencies of Massachusetts have become more aggressive in presenting alternative messages to young people, messages that contradict traditional religious and social values, condone teenage sexual activity and provide referrals for “reproductive services” (contraception and abortion) without parental awareness or approval. In doing so, parents are being deprived of their rightful role as primary educators of their children, and their freedom of religion is being violated. Consider the following educational policies in Massachusetts.
Health Curriculum Frameworks
The frameworks are currently the guidelines for all health education/wellness courses and are widely used throughout the state. The frameworks would have health teachers explain to students as young as 14 how to get an abortion without parental knowledge; middle school students would be told how to get contraceptives without telling their parents and about “behaviors” for pregnancy prevention.
School-Based Health Centers
Over 30 School-based Health Centers offer a comprehensive range of services that include reproductive health services (birth control, “emergency contraceptives”, abortion), family planning health education and services, and pregnancy diagnosis and follow-up. For reproductive health services not provided on site, the SBHC must arrange for provision of such services off-site (abortion).
The “Myth of Safe Sex”
These policies and programs are a continuation of the failed public strategies of the last three decades to reduce teen pregnancies and to respond to the AIDS crisis. In spite of a nearly universal advocacy of “safer sex” practices, 1 in 4 American teenage girls are estimated to have a sexually transmitted disease; Massachusetts has the 16th highest teen abortion rate in the US.
Why have these policies failed? Undoubtedly there are several factors. Young people are often given overly optimistic success rates for condoms in preventing pregnancy — 2% failure — rather than the more likely failure rate of 17%. Furthermore, little mention is made of the fact that these failure rates are based only on those failures that take place on the few days of month when a pregnancy can occur. The actual failure rates for disease prevention are even higher. Given a false sense of security, young people have taken greater risks and experienced more failures.
More Effective Strategies
Numerous studies have shown that young people can be effectively taught to abstain and seek a life-long commitment. These include:
- clear parental expectations, communication and values
- religious practice
- and abstinence education in the classroom
With respect to the latter, a recently published federally funded study clearly demonstrated that abstinence education was the most effective strategy in reducing the initiation of sexual activity among high risk young people as compared with “comprehensive sex ed” and “safer sex” programs.
What Parents Can Do
The most effective strategies begin at home. Be clear with your children about your values, expectations and the teachings of your Faith. Explain to them the hazards of the messages they may receive from the culture, or even from their friends and in the classroom. The Church is there to assist you with this task.
Consult with local school officials about the content of sex ed programs. Exempt your child from sexuality courses which violate your values. Under current law, that is your right.
Contact your elected officials to express your objections to this type of mandatory sexuality education in the public schools and the violation of parents’ rights. Insist that discussions of sexuality issues be made part of a separate elective course, and advocate for adoption of the more successful abstinence programs. Our children deserve the best — their future depends on it!
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For more information, contact MCFL at (671) 242-4199.