Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Celebrating What Works

The statistics continue to be alarming! Over the past few weeks we have seen the reports dealing with the increased rate of teen pregnancies. This has caused alarm in providers, in parents, and in the public at large. These reports have come during a time where economic often becomes the battleground.
In South Carolina we have seen the results as programs that target susceptible teens have often fallen prey to the budget scalpel—or ax depending on your perspective. In times like this we have to support programs that have been proven effective. That is what the SC Campaign has always said. “Show us a research proven effective program and we will give it our support,” or to paraphrase Jerry Maguire, “Show us the research!”

This week the Washington Post reported on an abstinence only program that has been shown to be effective.  This is welcome news as it adds one more weapon to our arsenal.

For too often battles have been waged over programs based on perspective. Proponents of abstinence only education have fought tooth and nail against programs that deal with contraceptives. Comprehensive education supporters have derided those who seek to lower the rate of sexual activity as naïve. The result has been, as the adults argue the children suffer.

Growing up in our small town, we had a doctor who was affectionately known as “Dr. Penicillin.” That was his prescription for everything! Strep Throat—a shot of penicillin will do the trick. Rheumatic Fever—how about a does of penicillin? Scraped knee—penicillin can’t hurt! That is not to say that many of us didn’t benefit from his care, but there were some issues that one drug just wouldn’t touch.

In our effort to address the epidemic of teen pregnancies, we have to be willing to admit that “one program won’t fit everyone.” There are some who need and will benefit from a comprehensive approach including contraception. Others need to be reminded and encouraged by the message of abstinence. To say that we have the only “right” approach is not only arrogant, but also dangerous.

The report this week opens the door to all of us that care about our children. Show us what works and it will get our full support. In times when our economic lives, but even more the lives of our children are in peril, can we do anything less?

by: Rev. Don Flowers, Immediate Past Board Chair and Pastor of Providence Baptist Church
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