Insight News

Tuesday
Sep 02nd

The End of Abstinence-Only Education in Minnesota?

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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Today marks an historic new investment in the efforts to prevent teen pregnancy. Pres. Obama plans to sign a bill that will offer more than $100 million in new competitive grants for what are called 'evidence-based' teen pregnancy prevention programs. Advocates consider it a major shift away from federal funding of abstinence-until-marriage sex education.

Brigid Riley, executive director of the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting, says abstinence will remain part of the message for teens.

"It's not an either/or; it's an and/both. It's about time that it's an and/both, because the teen pregnancy rates have been rising in our country for the last couple of years. We're seeing increases in HIV and STIs, as well. It's time for kids to get this information."

Abstinence-only supporters question whether the abstinence message can be effective when contraception and disease prevention are being discussed at the same time.

This funding could be critical for programs like Project Sight, a nonprofit in Faribault and Northfield, which teaches healthy relationships. Executive Director Candy Nordine says their programs are much more than just educating about pregnancy prevention.

"Teen pregnancy prevention is more than just sex education has to offer, but it's learning how to be a better citizen, it's learning how to be a stronger leader, it's learning how to communicate well."

The bill also authorizes $50 million in new mandatory teen pregnancy prevention grants to states. The funds will be overseen by the newly-established Office of Adolescent Health within the Office of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
 

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