The Argument You Don’t Hear About Birth Control in Schools

This is my column today on the furor over Plan B in the New York City Schools.  (But before I even begin, I just have to remind everyone that Plan B is not, and never has been, an abortifacient!):


It was a delayed reaction, but the uproar was predictable as news spread that New York City public schools are providing free birth control pills (including Plan B, the so called morning-after pill) to teenagers without their parents’ consent. The program had been running since last year (and parents do have the right to opt out,) but timeliness and accuracy come secondary with stories that have all the ingredients for controversy and moral judgment-flinging: parental rights denied, unnecessary intrusion into the sanctity of the family; medical concerns (some factually incorrect) about the risks and mechanisms of hormonal contraception.

Of course, what we rarely hear the reverse arguments: that pregnancy poses a huge burden on government resources; that teenagers have legal rights and protections, too; that the health risk of using birth control pills is surely outweighed by the much greater medical risks of adolescent pregnancy and childbirth; that this latest disproportionate — and even shaming — focus on the sex lives of girls over boys seems more of a piece with recent headlines about “forcible rape.” ….

Continued at:


About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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6 Responses to The Argument You Don’t Hear About Birth Control in Schools

  1. Why are birth control pills even in the schools? The little sexually active teenagers can’t walk around the corner to Planned Parenthood with their hoodies disguising their faces on a NO. 2 bus like the rest of the girls in high school who fell for the “you love me?” and “we don’t need a condom” and “this won’t hurt a bit” lines? Jesus, Mary, Joseph and Dominique, can’t these public schools mind their own business and let parents take their girls to their own doctor for exams and why aren’t parents more open these days and so forth? These public school budinskys chafe my chaps! I cannot stand the interference. Parents are”legally” in charge of kids til 18 and whatever goes wrong they have to accept and pay for. This NYC school district has really crossed the line. When I was going to school they stressed academics, music, sports and Christmas plays. Now we have birth control? to 14 year olds who can “opt out?” Hell in a handbasket man. My mother always said hell would be full. Standing room only. I thought for a long time she was nuts. How could such a benevolent Lord condemn so many people to the fiery depths in the afterlife? Well. He doesn’t. People do. By doing stupid hellish stuff like this. They send themselves. And, they “PREY” on little girls. Well. I guess I will go PRAY now. thanks for alerting me to yet one more thing in this wicked culture I have to take to the Lord on my knees.

    • I saw your message a few days ago and didn’t have time to respond. I do appreciate your commentary on my site, even when we disagree. ie. now. My perspective is that people like to wax rhapsodic about the good old days when schools stressed “academics, music, sports, etc.” And yet: teen birth rates are much lower compared to 30 or 40 years ago. High school drop-out rates are half what they were in the 1970s. So there’s a rose-colored aspect to our nostalgia for simpler times. For many children and teens, life was torture back then. No better, and in many ways worse, than today.

      Re parental responsibility: sure, it sounds great. Yet there will always be cases where kids are not getting the education (moral or practical) to avoid pregnancy. Why should children be punished for parental wrongdoing? We wouldn’t deny children cancer treatments, right? Or are you a parental rights purist? Are there any circumstances in which a parent doesn’t get to decide? What about kids who are schooled at home without any government oversight and don’t learn to read? Anyway, this issue of parental responsibility is a total red herring and I don’t understand the outrage about school “budinskys.” PARENTS HAVE THE RIGHT TO OPT OUT OF THE PROGRAM. They get to decide if they want control over their children’s health or not. So what’s the huge fuss then? Seems like you are the one superimposing your values (Christmas plays? Seriously?) on local school districts where parents have considerable agency and have been shown – if studies of school clinics are any guide – to want more, not fewer, health services for teens. Including birth control pills and condoms. No one is suggesting parents have to go along with this.

      Sure, it would be great if schools didn’t have to be all-purpose child rearing units. It would be great if decent parents made sufficient wages so we didn’t have to feed kids subsidized breakfasts, too. (And it would be great if we could just keep the bad parents from having kids in the first place, right?) But why shouldn’t schools be a locus for health care? It’s an historical accident that health care is provided via parental employment. There are many theoretical and actual models that turn our assumptions upside down. And most public health professionals would argue that you provide care where people are most likely to use it.

      Parents may be legally responsible for their children’s health but we all know some are simply not up to the task. The ‘hell in a handbasket’ rhetoric is unhelpful, especially when you use loaded words like “hoodies.” Your God may send me to a fiery eternity for “stupid hellish stuff” like supporting a birth control program that allows parents to opt out if they don’t like it. In the meantime, though, we have kids whose lives are being ruined by their poor family structure, immature brains, and cultural patterns that encourage bad choices.

  2. okay Erika. What if parents are not doing their jobs? According to who? I don’t have to send my kid to school in Washington STate until he is 8 years old. He can leave at 16. So, what can he get for 8 years? Incessant rambling on from female liberals who will teach him things that contradict my Christian faith. Why would I sent my son into that “hostile environment?” And, luckily I don’t have to cause I did Home School my kids when they encountered these nasty, mostly female teachers, and kids who hit them physically, and girls who shoved my daughter into lockers and had to go through metal detectors like those kids in New York. Why defend such a hostile, angry dangerous system like the New York School System? Let’s take the fact that a kid is home schooled and doesn’t learn to read cause that is the customary and usual argument of those ‘stupid, inept parents who have kids with no social skills.” The evidence is quite the contrary. How many kids who are home schooled cannot read? Got any facts or figures Erika? I got plenty. Just go onto the home school web page in your area. Those kids are SMART! Smarter and more academically ahead of regular school kids. That is a fact! But, putting that side, If you look closely at that argument, which has nothing to do with birth control in school to 14 year old girls who are still “minors” and who are having to be subjected unfairly, unnecessarily, in school, I will just call it a “moral assault” which is not necessary for them, because, they wake up and go to school with books and then, Hello? How about some birth control honey? Let’s not equate home schoolers who do not teach their kids to read ( don’t know any cases, can you site one?) with an an “assault” on a 14 year old girl who just woke up, had angst about what to wear, has awkward feelings about her body anyway, and is then given a “proposition” about birth control, which has to do with SEX and HER BODY, okay? She just wants to get up and find the right outfit and fit in and do well in school and be liked, okay? How unfair is this to her? It’s really unfair. It’s insulting know why? Because, like all the CRASS educators in these schools, the ASSUMPTION is that she is going to NEED birth control at some point and why? Because she will NOT be able to control her little hormones.How completely presumptuous and arrogant on the part of the know-it-all educator. Know what? I sent my 12 year old son to junior high and do you know who could not control their hormones? His nasty, middle aged, porn loving and watching, merlot swilling teachers! I mean Erika, they talked about SEX ED all day long. I had to tell them to piss off and stop talking to my kid in homeroom and other courses about sex ed. I pulled him out! I told them to mind their own business! I had a SWEET little 12 year old boy that I taught LOVE to about Jesus. My kid. My rights. So, don’t interfere or there will be a big throw down with me. WE have big throw downs and I like them! Modern education is so far removed from say, Harvard or Yale which started out as Divinity Schools. Do you know the requirements to get into these schools back in the day? You had to know Greek and Latin. You had to write an entrance essay in each language and a bunch of other stuff. Look. Just school our kids so they can be doctors and lawyers and theologians in the academy. Leave sex and religion and love in the home and with our pastors and priests. Public Schools have usurped the role of parents for too long. Parents are supposed to raise children as they see fit. I know many a man and woman who only got to go to school until 7th grade. okay? We call them Native Americans. They are the smartest people I know. Hard working. Got married. Had babies. I don’t know what is happening to every kid in school but ABUSE should be the issue if they are being smacked around at home. Otherwise, schools, know your place, and stay in it. Or there is gonna be a big ruckus up in there. I been in the principals office many a times. Will be again if they mess with my grandchildren.

  3. You are making a lot of assumptions about me, one of which is that I am somehow unfamiliar with home schooling and am not a fan. Not true. I came very close to home schooling my middle child; am a huge believer in all kinds of schooling, I even buy into ‘unschooling’ etc.. I also have a huge amount of skepticism about mainstream schools (though as a licensed teacher, I also think there is a lot of good to be found in schools and think many teachers are given a terrible rap.) I did a project for my master’s program (in early childhood development) on homeschooling and know, personally, quite a few home schoolers. All that said, it’s naive to think there aren’t kids who come out of homeschooling not knowing how to read. The same could also be said about public schools but there is a growing vocal segment of the home schooling community that is speaking out, I believe quite courageously, about the problems, as well as the advantages. Recent studies are calling into question the long-held assumption that home schooling is superior to ‘regular’ school. I think the jury is still out; we have a lot to learn about it; and there are obviously huge variations in experience.

    At the end of the day, I have a different view of the right balance of state and individual. It’s a constant struggle, one we never quite get right. But I have never thought parents “owned’ their children’s bodies and minds and, as such, I have less of a problem with the idea of other adults being involved in their education. In addition, I think sex education is a good thing!!! So we are at polar ends of this, which is okay.

  4. Dear Erika. We took the Bible and prayer and pretty much allegiance to the flag out of school. Then we took the responsibility for children, whom we believe, are under our God Given care and yes, some parents, abdicated that, abused them and so forth. But, that does not mean that the majority of parents are not doing a good job. However, without the Lord and his teaching, we can do anything. We got metal detectors, gangs, violence, bullying, teen pregnancy, drug use on campus, drug dealers dealing in the bathrooms and school yard, guns, and you name it. All in a very short years. The “sexual revolution” has failed us and our kids. So much for “freedom” and “reproductive choices.” Here is TRUTH: Our young kids don’t want to put condoms on bananas or cucumbers, okay? It is Humiliating. They are embarrassed. They are told “they have to” to make the grade. Let’s you and me go up into the New York School district and ask the kids what THEY want to do with this banana or cucumber? I bet they will want to make banana bread with chocolate chips and walnuts with me. Not put condoms on them. I bet the GIRLS will want the cucumber of salad or their puffy eyes. they do NOT want to to this with bananas and cucumbers in school. Girls and boys together. They would rather bake or eat the food. But, nobody asks them. These “educators” just have an agenda and parents are not pushing back. They need to. My children were given to ME and my husband to govern. To care for. They are my children. Not the public schools or any one else’s. I know what kids want and what they like because I have taught kids in tutoring and Sunday School for years. I worked as a Youth Director at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in SEattle, Wa and we went across the street to buy bananas, cookies, muffins, chicken fingers for morning sunday school with the Bible. I have taught and talked to youth and teens for 30 years about the Bible and sex and everything else. They do NOT want to do this in school. They are uncomfortable in this setting. SEx Education is bullying. They are bullied and pressured to do this. They cave in because they are 12, or 13 or 14 and dominating, domineering, agenda seeking, merlot swilling, incessant sex obsessed “educators” who then go home and watch porn with their “partners’ are pushing them to blah. blah. blah. Well, I have pushed back for years on this. I had so many teachers UNprofessionally tell my children about their gay partners, their gay life, in the classroom in appropriate ways, with details, how fab sex was, how awesome anal sex is, fellatio, you name it, that i PULLED my kids out of this SICK environment. This is everywhere! I never saw such perverted people in my days. So, that is it. If parents actually were paying ATTENTION to all the “talks” that go on in these classes they would have a fit but they stupidly and neglectfully are NOT paying attention and I deem this ABUSE of Children. Sex Education is nothing more than abuse of our children. They are taught : technique without any reference to the emotional, or spiritual or mental ramifications of their sexual choices. They are told: “Just don’t get pregnant or a disease.” This is unconscionable! I do know you Erika. and you know me. In debate we talk. Point and Counterpoint. We know each other. We are connected. These are my debate points. The worst thing in the world is not teen pregnancy in my view. The worst thing in the world is usurping someone else’s guardianship of a minor. It’s taking over in some kind of insidious power play which I have fought these “educators’ all my life. I fought the priests and nuns in school when they were abusive and I will fight this nasty stuff. For my grandchildren.

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