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Want more teen moms? Keep a lid on factual sex ed

Citizen Staff Writer
Our Opinion

One of the best ways to ensure fertility and a robust birth rate is to constrain teenagers to abstinence-only sex education.

That’s why comprehensive sex education is so important, especially in a state such as Arizona, which has a sky-high teen pregnancy rate.

Recognizing that irrefutable fact, state Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Phoenix, has proposed HB 2544, mandating that sex education programs must be medically accurate and comprehensive.

Simplistic “just say no” finger-wagging doesn’t do the trick with hormonally ravaged teenagers, as research repeatedly has proven.

And pregnancy isn’t the only problem that ensues from a lack of solid sex education. Other results include the tragedy of abortion, the health risks of sexually transmitted diseases and even contraction of HIV/AIDS.

Yet simple education and awareness can prevent these horrific outcomes among young Arizonans.

Educators should encourage abstinence, by all means.

But they also have a responsibility to advise teenagers that, should abstinence be abandoned, then use of birth control, plus condoms, to prevent the spread of disease, are essential for the youngsters’ health and future success.

Many teenagers who intend to adhere to abstinence find themselves falling off that wagon when confronted by the twin temptations of lust and infatuation.

They will be prepared for the consequences only if they have been enlightened thoroughly by adults.

We grown-ups – especially lawmakers – need to face facts. Teenagers are only human, and they’re only kids.

They depend on us to provide them with education in reading, writing and mathematics so that they may become fully functioning members of our society. But they also need health and welfare protections if they’re to be able to meet that goal.

Arizona lawmakers can’t do a lot of things these days because of the state’s enormous budget deficits.

But they could enact Sinema’s bill, thus brightening the futures of our young people while reducing future costs for health services and social needs for teenage mothers.

Prevention of problems always is preferable to mopping up afterward.

Arizona has the fifth-highest birth rate among teenagers in the U.S.

State lawmakers have an opportunity to improve on that statistic while helping to steer our children toward safe and healthy behaviors.

All parents hope their teens will practice abstinence, but wise parents also explain about pregnancy and STDs. That’s a basic explanation that every Arizona teenager deserves.

Lawmakers can ensure more teens’ health and safety by endorsing fact-based sex ed rather than denial of reality.

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