There’s no question that teen pregnancy is a serious issue in our communities. Shows like MTV’s ’16 and Pregnant’ and ‘Teen Mom’ only highlight a small portion of the millions of teen pregnancies that occur each year. On Monday, the New York City Board of Education announced that all middle schools and high schools must offer a class in sex education beginning next spring in an effort to combat pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. This was a long overdue and much welcomed announcement in urban neighborhoods throughout the city where the teen pregnancy rates are high.
One parent, Yvonne McDowell, whose son, James, 14, is entering ninth grade at Eagle Academy in the South Bronx., was quoted as saying:
“I would prefer for my son to get it from the school than for him to get it from the street or from peers or from TV or social media.”
According to The New York Daily News:
The South Bronx – along with Harlem and Bedford-Stuyvesant and Bushwick in Brooklyn – had the highest rates of teen pregnancy, according to the city’s most recent figures.
In north and central Brooklyn, 47% of high school students had sex at least once at age 13 or earlier, a city Health Department survey in 2009 found.
More than 25% reported not using a condom the last time they had sex.
However, even with stats like those not everyone is happy about the city’s plans. Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling called the plan a “failed experiment” and added:
“Rates of teen sexual activity and pregnancies continue to soar, despite condoms being freely given away.”
Officials in charge of the plan have stated that the new curriculum does include lessons on abstinence and maintain that teen pregnancies have actually been on the decline in recent years.