Fourteen New York City schools have been offering students Plan B and other birth control pills, according to an article in CNN Monday.
The pills were first distributed to students in January 2011 as part of a pilot program called Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Healthcare. The program targets “schools where students are known to have a higher rate of pregnancy and less access to healthcare,” according to CNN.
It’s understandable that a high school would want to provide its students with birth control. Don’t schools make it their mission to keep kids in the classroom? When students are having unprotected sex, (as a number of high school students probably do) there’s a chance that some of them will become pregnant and decide to drop out to focus on parenting. Providing students with birth control might reduce the number of pregnancies and thus dropouts.
Investing in birth control can also benefit the state financially. Those students would be more likely to continue their education and work than to struggle with raising a family and need assistance from welfare programs. In 2007, New York spent $1.47 billion on welfare programs, according to a report by CNBC. While the state has reduced its costs, its spending remains high among states. These programs also help young New Yorkers stay in school and avoid the financial hardships that might come with teenage pregnancy.
Decreases in welfare and food stamp spending would probably benefit a city that already spends a lot on those programs.
However, it should be noted that the government can only do so much. It can fund sex-education programs and pass out birth control, but whether or not to engage in safe sex, or have sex at all, is a decision that’s left up to the students.
Let us not forget that educating teenagers about sex is a responsibility that should fall on parents first. Some schools have acknowledged that those talks don’t always happen and decided to step in, which is good. However, high school sex-education classes should not replace those talks entirely.