Should schools teach about contraceptives? Should teachers who do go to jail?

A Wisconsin District Attorney has warned local sex ed teachers if they teach students about contraceptives they would be contributing to the delinquency of a minor, a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months behind bars and a $10,000 fine. He said it would be promoting sex among minors who are not legally allowed to have sex in Wisconsin.

The school teachers, who say abstinence-only program don’t work, are befuddled by the logic.

“Seems like a step back in time,” said teacher Mike Taake, who has taught sex ed for 30 years.

From the AP story:

“Juneau County District Attorney Scott Southworth, a Republican and a Christian evangelical, took issue with a law Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle signed in February requiring schools that teach sexual education to adopt a comprehensive approach.”…

“Southworth said he doesn’t want to drag teachers into court but feels he was ethically responsible for warning them of the new law’s potential consequences. He urged the school districts to refrain from offering sex education courses until the Legislature repeals the law.”

“’ Listen, there’s a real problem with the law,’ he said. ‘I didn’t pick the fight. The Legislature dumped it in my lap…’ ”

“Janine Geske, a Marquette University law professor and former state Supreme Court justice, said she didn’t understand Southworth’s legal logic. She said that if he tried to prosecute a teacher for adhering to guidelines approved by the Legislature and governor, the case would likely be dismissed.”

” ‘To be frank, I can’t follow exactly what he’s trying to get at,’ Geske said. ‘If a teacher is educating a student pursuant to state law … I don’t see how under any examination (that) could be criminal….’ ”

“Taake said he intends to teach contraceptive use and isn’t worried about being prosecuted.”

“ ‘It’s not just teaching them how birth control works. It’s everything else that goes with it,’ he said. ‘To arrest me for teaching correct birth control and the student makes the wrong decision and gets pregnant, that’s not my decision.’ ”

So what do you think?

Should sex ed programs teach about birth control? Do Georgia schools include birth control in their talks? (I don’t think they did when I was in middle school.)

Is this DA right legally? (There’s another section of the story that suggests maybe he’s trying to boost his conservative chops by doing this.)

77 comments Add your comment

A. Nusman

April 9th, 2010
10:08 am

No way this will happen. The christain whackos won’t let it happen. Second, we don’t want the dumb teachers in place teaching something this important. They will get it wrong. Finally, why was I banned — (edited so I could leave the comment).

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

April 9th, 2010
10:11 am

I didn’t do it but I would guess it had to be something you said and probably the name didn’t help. I didn’t see the bad part in this name so I’m OK with that. My bosses aren’t fooling around.

motherjanegoose

April 9th, 2010
10:19 am

This is sticky and should be interesting. Once again, there are things that teachers might feel the need to discuss/teach….as parents are not doing it at home. It starts with teeth brushing, manners and shoe tying in preschool and ends up with contraceptives in HS.

I am open with my kids and hopefully they feel they can come to me. With the things they have asked me already….I think they do.

My daughter and I went to the movie: THE LAST SONG. There was a girl that was being controlled by her rude boyfriend, in the movie. I had read the book a while back, so I knew what was coming, We talked about it and later saw it play out in real life at the boardwalk at the beach. There were riff raff teens smoking and with cigarettes in their ears…using foul language in a family place. We chatted about it again and discussed the types of kids we saw and the perceived impressions they were making. My daughter said, “WHY would any teen today want to smoke? There is so much information about how bad it is for you.” I told her how they had smoking areas at my HS, for students during break and lunch. That seems like forever ago…it was…over 30 years….LOL.

If I were you Theresa...

April 9th, 2010
10:22 am

…I would ban this name, too, now that he has proved he is a pervert by constantly referring to that body part…

PickinNits

April 9th, 2010
10:32 am

This D.A. seemingly has an idealogical axe to grind because the leap in logic he is espousing appears to be huge. I have some experience in this area since I am a Prosecuting Attorney myself. One of the great aspects of this job is that we are charged with doing justice first. Charging someone with a crime and obtaining a conviction is only appropriate if there has been an actual violation of the law.
While I have not read the Wisconsin statutes that apply in this case, it would seem that teaching about contraceptives is not anymore promoting sex than the basic sex ed would do anyway. As a prosecutor, you have to take out your personal ideaology and go by the law. Mr. Southworth portraying his warning as a friendly heads up to teachers is at best intellectually dishonest.

MomsRule

April 9th, 2010
10:33 am

I think people that use the beginning of a sentence as their name should be banned.

Jeff

April 9th, 2010
10:40 am

I don’t have a big issue with teaching this to kids. My concern is: what age? Can parents opt out? and let’s try to do better at covering the fundamentals (math, science, literature, EXERCISE) before we add periphreals to the curriculum. Do well at the important stuff FIRST, then come see me.

Roswell Jeff

April 9th, 2010
10:40 am

When has it become wrong to teach the truth? I don’t have a problem with it.

What is the difference...

April 9th, 2010
10:47 am

…between using the start of a sentence as a “name” and a pseudo name like “MomsRule”?

MomsRule

April 9th, 2010
10:59 am

There is a big diff but if I have to explain it, well never mind.

My statement was as silly as the statement that A Nusman should be banned for his name choice.

It is clever enough most people won’t even know what it means. And, it is not profanity so who cares.

Lynda

April 9th, 2010
11:03 am

How about we teach personal responsibility?

Yea, and ask every kid who walks through the school doors “Are you ready to be a parent”? If the answer is NO, then hand them a condom.

Michelle

April 9th, 2010
11:12 am

I think if they are teaching sex ed, they should also teach about proper contraceptive use. I think the newest studies show that the “abstinence only” teaching does not work.

I know I’ve said this before, but if I (or my husband) haven’t already taught my son the basic info by the time he is in school, then he should be mature enough to handle it!

He is almost 7 and already wants to know what the testicles are for and “why” does his penis get hard?! Good grief! I can’t imagine the kinds of questions I’ll be getting in another year or two!

I would rather be embarrassed and explain something than to be an early grandmother OR have to take him to get treated for something! I would much rather he know the facts!

Michelle

April 9th, 2010
11:14 am

Oh…and A. Nusman…I would have called your new name “A” Noose man…based on pronunciation.

Angela

April 9th, 2010
11:16 am

when will parents step in and start being parents? Over breeding sucks. Seems like a parental job to me.

Spacey

April 9th, 2010
11:18 am

Yes Lynda… Hand them condoms. My Mother did kept a large container of condoms under the bathroom sink.
No babies for us until we were married and ready.
My “talk” included that it was not just the man’s responsibility to have condoms.
She was realistic and honest.
I do not remember using the stash that much, but I know my brother used it.

Jj

April 9th, 2010
11:18 am

Well thank you Angela for those words of wisdom!!!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 9th, 2010
11:33 am

I’m still confused how teaching about contraception equates to ecouraging or contributing to the deliquency of a minor?

Is this guy going to haul to court parents who engage in these drunk driving contracts/agreements with their children that state if they do happen to get drunk, they can call their parents for a ride under a sort of amnesty agreement? Isn’t that the same thing? If he isn’t, then it’s obvious he’s got more than the letter of the law on his agenda.

motherjanegoose

April 9th, 2010
11:33 am

@ Michelle…I thought the exact same thing about the pronunciation. Guess I am not too bright.
I am sure some will agree…:).

@ Angela…being able to procreate and being a parent are not necessarily the same thing and thus we have the problems we have today.

JJ

April 9th, 2010
11:43 am

As a parent, and I have said this over and over and over, it is MY job to teach MY child about sex, contraceptives, where babies come from, etc. It is the schools job to teach the 3 R’s and the church’s job to teach religion. But it’s MY job to teach sex, morals, values, etc.

The problem is, most parents are afraid to talk sex with their kids. I’ve had open dialoge with my daughter about sex since she was about 8 and started asking questions…..

A. Nusman

April 9th, 2010
11:44 am

Some of you are like 10 year olds who freak out when they hear the pee pee word.

Back to the subject at hand. Let’s keep the schools from doing any more parenting and make the parents do the parenting.

Oh yeah…..I just canceled my subscription based the ” my bosses are serious” remark. It’s disappointing that they get this wadded up over something I said, or other off topic issues. it’s time to keep customers, not alienate them.

DJ Sniper

April 9th, 2010
11:47 am

The logic (and I use that term loosely) that some people use is just mind boggling. As soon as I saw the part about the the DA being a Republican and a Christian Evangelical, that told me everything I need to know. People like this don’t want schools teaching sex ed and birth control, but they aren’t doing much themselves to teach their kids about sex. They think that abstinence only is the way to go, but they don’t realize that there’s a real chance that their kids will choose to have sex. If they go that route, they will go into the situation without knowing anything, and that’s when the proverbial s**t hits the fan. As a new parent, I cannot afford to stick my head in the sand and think that the only thing I need to tell my daughter about sex is “don’t do it.”

catlady

April 9th, 2010
11:50 am

It would be criminal NOT to teach about contraception! Our kids are drinking underage, too. Shouldn’t we teach them “don’t drive when drinking?”

fer

April 9th, 2010
11:55 am

We ALL know that young people are not going to choose NOT to have sex just because they don’t know much about contraception. I say teach it, over and over and over.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 9th, 2010
11:58 am

@nusman…smoked oyster used that exact same expression the other day….do you pull double duty under that moniker too?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 9th, 2010
12:04 pm

@catlady…I’m thinking the same thing about drinking.

So if a teacher or administrator in this prosecutor’s jurisdiction tells a student body that an effective method to avoid drunk driving is to call a cab or their parents if they find themselves intoxicated some night, wouldn’t this be the same legal circumstance as the contraception issue?

As far as I can tell it meets that exact same criteria ….. (1) both activities in this guy’s jurisdiction are illegal to minors, (2) both messages by the teacher illustrate a way to avoid a potentially unfavorable outcome as a result of engaging in the illegal activity.

I think this guy would be laughed out of the state if he had suggest that he would prosecute teachers sending that message.

RJ

April 9th, 2010
12:09 pm

Sex education is a part of health education and has been since I was in middle school. I remember having the sex talk in school and with my parents. Why is this even an issue? For those that only want their kids to learn the three R’s, you’re wrong in your assumption that the school is only responsible for teaching the basics. There is much more to education than learning to read and perform math problems. Sex education should continue as it is written, including the benefits of abstinence and the necessary precautions for diseases and pregnancy.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 9th, 2010
12:11 pm

Another interesting scenario…will this guy prosecute Barnes and Noble for selling to a minor a book about sex education that includes a section on contraception?

Claire

April 9th, 2010
12:20 pm

Not teaching kids about birth control is like not getting your animals neutered/spayed. Humans are mammals, ya’ll!

JoeV

April 9th, 2010
12:26 pm

Cant trust the parents to do it (esp if they are evangelicals) so the schools have to be the parents in this situation. Schools should absolutely teach about the proper use of contraceptives.

Earl Waters

April 9th, 2010
12:36 pm

…I would ban this name, too, now that he has proved he is a pervert by constantly referring to that body part…

I’d ban the hell out of you for being a snitchy do-gooder. Ease up on all the meds there, chief.

Some of you are like 10 year olds who freak out when they hear the pee pee word.

Absolutely I agree. This is the behavior of those with insufficient real-world experience, humility, and other character traits those of us who had to bust our arse to make it in this world have earned.

Oh yeah…..I just canceled my subscription based the ” my bosses are serious” remark. It’s disappointing that they get this wadded up over something I said, or other off topic issues. it’s time to keep customers, not alienate them.

Excellent! Nobody here can REALLY be “banned” since this is not a registered-user account “forum.” Even IP banning can be gotten around. Just come up with a new posting name and move on.

I suspect this is not about “bosses” or “what’s not allowed”, anyway. I don’t know of many bosses who have the time to read internet blogs over and over.

Earl, you are not very bright, either...

April 9th, 2010
12:47 pm

…the ‘bosses’ to whom she refers are her bosses/editors at the AJC; hence, it IS their job to “have the time to read internet blogs over and over”.

And, regarding the ” IP banning can be gotten around. Just come up with a new posting name and move on” – true, but only if you move to another computer to obtain a NEW IP address…and I can attest to the fact that you can indeed be banned, as I have been banned by the “Misadventures” blog – every time I try to post there I get the “comments are waiting to be moderated” message, and then whatever it is I wrote disappears, even if I am on topic and not mean or nasty, unlike many of the posters on that site who are, sometimes really, really nasty and graphic…

Gary O'Donnell

April 9th, 2010
12:51 pm

I agree with Tiger85. Teaching contraception enhances the maturity of a minor, as opposed to contributing to the delinquency of a minor. If school teach biology, and as a part of biology they teach about reproduction and Sex Ed, the concept of contraception should be addressed. I don’t know that we need “this is how you put on a condom” lessons, but teenagers need to know how body parts work and the steps they can take to prevent the spread of STDs and to prevent unwanted pregancies. Abstinence should be included, but more from the “practical” standpoint (not effective) as opposed to moral or religious standpoint.

Nadia74

April 9th, 2010
12:54 pm

This seems like such a non-issue to me. I would think that if they are allowed to teach sex ed, then contraception would have to be taught. I agree that parents should be giving this information to their children, but there are many parents who don’t because they think their kids are not doing it or they just suck as parents. A lot of kids have wrong information when it comes to protecting themselves against STDs, so this would be a great way to make sure that they are getting the correct information.

Informing someone is not the same as encouraging them. I don’t think it is an educator’s job to go into the morality of things, but I do think it is a great opportunity for educators to encourage students to talk to their parents. They could give them tips about how to approach their parens about “embarrassing” subjects, like sex.

Nadia74

April 9th, 2010
12:56 pm

P.S. You don’t have to move to a new computer to get a new IP address.

Tony

April 9th, 2010
1:26 pm

Contraceptives should be part of abstinence based sex-ed, too. There are other important functions of contraceptives besides the prevention of unwanted pregnancy. For the district attorney to impose such a broad gag order against teachers in unconscionable. He should be removed from office immediately. For teachers, counselors, and others to withhold such vital information from students, particularly high school aged, amounts to malpractice. I would certainly feel better explaining to the judge why I told a student about contraceptives instead of explaining why I did not.

Big B CH 99

April 9th, 2010
1:28 pm

They teach all about “safe sex” & contraceptives in health classes in GA schools. Health classes are pretty much all sex ed.

I believe that sex before marriage is wrong, & we should teach abstinence.
BUT, the fact is no matter how much we preach abstinence, we can’t prevent them from having sex. So we do need to teach them about contraceptives, & that they should use protection if they’re gonna do it.
That’s why I think colleges need to make cheap contraceptives readily available, b/c no matter how much the college health classes preach abstinence, they’re gonna do it anyways.

We don’t want to encourage sex, but since we can’t prevent it, we need to educate them about contraceptives.

sherry

April 9th, 2010
1:38 pm

Somebody needs to speak up about birth control. Kids having Kids not a good thing. The kids need to be educated about birth control.

sherry

April 9th, 2010
1:45 pm

Have you look at your childs my space page. Some of these girls have picture of them half nake. So, there parents shouldn’t have a problem with some trying to educate them about birth control

Jen

April 9th, 2010
2:05 pm

Well obviously many of you know each other here, but it didn’t appear that many of you work in a high school. Not only do I work in a high school, but I am also a Christian, so there are a couple of issues here. First, assuming that all Christian believe that abstinence is ALL that should be taught is prejudice. Certainly I would love for that to be that case, but being a mother of three, I have NEVER kidded myself into believing that my kids wait until they were married. We have condoms available at our home. How many teenagers do you know that would be embarassed to purchase condoms? I don’t want my kids facing a situation that puts themselves at risk because they are too embarrassed to purchase a contraceptive. Second, I have at times had up to FIVE pregnant girls in my class at one time! Thats out of 28 students! The number of teen pregnancies is very large and in fact is accepted as the norm. We should all quit passing the buck of who’s responsiblity it is and DO SOMETHING to teach the teens and preteens about all of their options, so they can make an educated choice about their sexual activity. Teaching about contraceptives does not get someone pregnant…unprotected sex DOES.

JATL

April 9th, 2010
2:12 pm

Anyone AGAINST this should take a week and spend it at their local high school. Contraception and DETAILED sex ed needs to be taught beginning earlier than high school! You can argue that it’s all the parents responsibility if you want, but clearly many parents are not bothering to teach their kids anything about sex or contraception. I think you’re contributing to the delinquency of a minor far more by NOT teaching them about contraception than if you do. When I taught I told my kids EVERYTHING that was available to them at their local health clinic. I decided to tell all of my classes after the 15 year old mother of a 2 year old told me she was afraid she was pregnant again. I also had at least one pregnant girl in ALL of my classes -sometimes 2 or 3. I advised them all to get Norplant if they weren’t going to consider condoms -or to use Norplant AND a condom for disease prevention. I’m so SICK of these puritanical fools legislating THEIR morality on the rest of us when they don’t even consider REALITY!!!!

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

April 9th, 2010
2:17 pm

the real shame here is that this guy is going to tie up court time, DA resources, and school board funds in legal fees when he indicts his first “criminal”.

abc

April 9th, 2010
2:17 pm

In the 70’s this kind of material was taught in Health and PE. What’s the big deal? It’s only information. Interpretation and use of the information certainly can include the parents. This is a non-issue, political grandstanding only.

jan

April 9th, 2010
2:22 pm

I would have no problem with the school and contraceptives. Sex ed should cover all aspects of sex, the good, bad and ugly side of it. My daughters boss has a 16 yr old son and some of the things she says make me shake my head and wonder when she is going to pull her head out of the sand. If this young man isn’t taught something about safe sex at school God help him. There are still adults in this world that think “sex” is a bad word and the kids aren’t doing it. That is scary.
My 3 daughters and I talked about sex at home, even did the condom thing where they knew it was as much their responsibility to have one as the boys. 2 of my girls were on birth control in high school due to medical problems but that did not make them have sex any earlier than they would have if they weren’t on birth control. Too many adults think if I give them knowledge then I am promoting the action. If you teach and explain and conversations aren’t taboo then they know what you morally stand for and expect from them. Sometimes you get it and sometimes you don’t but at least you know they are equipped.
My first husband died and I started dating again. My youngest took me to dinner and said, “you had this talk with me now it’s my turn. Find out about past sexual partners, carry your own condoms, and never trust what the man says until he has proven to you that he can be trusted. Don’t let hormones get in the way of your life and health. Don’t believe him just because he said so, go with your gut and if you have a weird feeling — walk away.” I knew that I had done my part when she was growing up and she just wanted to make sure that her mom followed the same rules and didn’t do something stupid.
When sex stopped being about just getting pregnant and became life and death – I don’t understand how any parent can let that conversation not happen. You wouldn’t let them cross the street without instruction.

Earl Waters

April 9th, 2010
2:24 pm

but only if you move to another computer to obtain a NEW IP address

This is incorrect.

That is all.

Carry on.

Hey, Earl...

April 9th, 2010
2:49 pm

…you are late, too – Nadia74 already corrected me…but I am computer illiterate, if you did not already know…

Earl "BBW Chaser" Waters

April 9th, 2010
2:53 pm

…but I am computer illiterate, if you did not already know…

Then why did you say what you said when you said it?

Knowing I’m saying? :P

Earl "Big Kahuna" Waters

April 9th, 2010
3:00 pm

I still think we should prevent and penalize irresponsible young women and men from having kids.

Notice I used the word “men” loosely. I believe Dr. Laura uses the phrase sperm donor to describe guys like that.

I knew a girl when I was younger from my home town who clearly, like other girls, knew HOW YOU GET PREGNANT and HOW TO PREVENT IT! No future, overweight, bad environment, unable to behave as an adult woman.

However she had 3 kids by 3 (yes three!) different fathers, no marriage. Those fathers obviously deserved to pay the price as well.

However with some people “education” is not enough. I’m tired of kids being brought into this world with no father, a terrible (often heartbreaking) situation, and as welfare recipients.

I don’t see a sensible, factual sex education as being the problem. Extend pregnancy control further or at least do something so that those of us with kids, and as hardworking taxpayers, don’t have to share the burden!

Earl "Keepin It Real" Waters

April 9th, 2010
3:03 pm

Sorry I meant to say, “..those of us who with kids who planned carefully and responsibly for it.”

That is all.

MB

April 9th, 2010
4:59 pm

Ok, I’ve read all the comments and here it goes: The problem with the whole contraceptive thing being taught in schools is that (many times, not every time) it is taught with the idea that “all kids are going to do it anyway” so they should be safe. Unfortunately, that “everybody does it” idea behind the teaching (not the teaching itself which wouldn’t be a problem for me personally) is the real problem. The message should be that it’s ok to not have sex, not every teen has sex, and some (gasp) do wait until marriage and that choice is commendable. In our society today, most snicker at the idea of virginity and that plays a significant role in teens’ choices. BTW, there have been some disputed figures in the results of abstinence-only education. Truth is, there are less pregnancies now that a few years ago (most recent statistics) although it’s hard to say whether that’s because fewer are having sex, more are using birth control, or if more are having abortions.
Personally, I think any sex-education should include something on respecting yourself, finding your identity in your intellect and abilities rather than your sexuality, the sheer number of diseases out there, the fact that women with multiple partners are at risk for diseases like cancer later in life, and the risks associated with long-term use of the pill and other forms of birth control, and how pre-mature sex can affect your emotions and mental health (particularly for girls).
They should also include info and maybe even some role-playing on how to say no…including being bold and also how to get out of a situation without discussing beliefs you feel uncomfortable talking about. And…this is important…teaching boys how and why to respect girls.
In reading the demeaning comments regarding Christians on this matter, I will say many Christians do have quality parenting skills on this matter. Most I know have open communication with their kids…so it goes well beyond “don’t do it.” We aren’t really asking for the schools to teach our kids about sex…most feel they are doing it at home so it’s not needed at school. So, the real debate here isn’t over the Christian kids, but how to teach everyone else. I feel that abstinence needs to be given as a VALID option and feel that perhaps that’s not the case currently, even if it is in a system that teaches “abstinence only.” It would be hard to teach abstinence if you didn’t adhere to it or don’t really believe in it, or don’t really think any of the kids will practice it. Perhaps, that is part of the reason the current problems don’t have more positive numbers.
I was raised Christian and my parents talked openly about sex with me. At 12, I made the decision to remain a virgin until marriage. It was my decision, made privately, when I accepted Jesus as my Savior. I also committed to God that I would never use drugs, would never get drunk (although I didn’t commit to never drinking at all…wine is Biblical) and not to drink until I was of legal age. I kept all of those commitments..and BTW..I was 35 when I married!

Mattie

April 9th, 2010
5:19 pm

For all those who think abstinence education is the (only) answer, look where that got the Palin family. As long as kids keep having kids, somewhere they aren’t getting the info they need. That’s where health class must fill int he blanks.