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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : commentary September 28, 2016

8/21/2014 11:05:00 AM
Commentary: Why birth control should be part of families' back to school planning

Desiree Perez
My Turn

As Arizonans gear up for a new school year, parents are taking the lead to make sure their teens are prepared. For many families, this means buying school supplies, trendy clothes and shoes, as well as paying for extra-curricular activities. But what about birth control?

The truth is, serious and open communication about sex, sexual health and healthy relationships is as important to a young person's future as a good education, and, in fact, can make the difference on whether that education is completed. The decisions they make now can affect the course of their lives.

Talking to your teen about sex can be uncomfortable, but it can also be one of the most important conversations you have. Trusted adults and families are the main source of information and support for teenagers. When it comes to making big decisions about their futures, they depend on the adults in their lives for help.

Young people face more pressures today than ever before. However, they are getting less information than they need and want. In fact, more than three-quarters of teens say they need more information about birth control, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

Nearly half of high school students in the state report having had sexual intercourse at least once, according to a 2013 survey by the Arizona Department of Education. That same survey found that only 48.5 percent of high school females used a condom during their last sexual encounter. And yet only two-thirds of students have talked with the trusted adults in their lives about their personal values and expectations surrounding sex.

Taking responsibility for their own sexual well-being is an important step for a teenager to become a healthy, happy adult. With the support of the adults in their lives, young people can learn to make healthy and safe decisions, all within the context of a family's values.

That's why Planned Parenthood Arizona is introducing "Be Healthy, Be Safe, Be You!" This multi-month campaign will run through the end of 2014. The goal along the way is to encourage and assist families to start the dialogue about sexual and reproductive health.

If and when young people are ready to start having sex, Planned Parenthood will be there to help them and their families access expert, nonjudgmental information and care that is confidential.

During the month of August, Planned Parenthood Arizona is covering the cost of a one-on-one visit with a health care provider at its health centers for 300 teens who come in for their first birth control visit. The only cost is the first three packs of pills.

Assistance is also available to Yavapai County residents to help locate affordable health care from providers within the local community. As Regional Health Coordinator for the northern Arizona region, it is my goal to deliver unbiased, quality health information, support sexual and reproductive rights in the community, and help our patients access the care they want close to home.

At Planned Parenthood, we want to make sure you and your teen have access to affordable services, including life-saving cancer screenings, the HPV vaccine and safe and effective birth control-even if you don't receive that care from us.

Young people have sex. It's a natural part of being human. But, how they approach sex will have a lot to do with the knowledge and support they're given by the adults in their lives.

The least we can do is give them the tools they need to make the best decisions for their own health and future.

Desiree Perez is the Regional Health Coordinator for the northern Arizona region for Planned Parenthood. She can be reached at 928-228-1577 or dperez@ppaz.org.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Article comment by: Foster communication

We need classes that teach parents how to talk to their kids about sex.

Posted: Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Article comment by: Education is the Key!

Re: Need more money - Great concept - let's NOT teach our children about sex - then complain when the unwanted children from teen pregnancies cost taxpayers money from all the financial assistance these new unprepared parents and child will need. It's really simple sex ed/math: 1 boy + 1 girl = an unplanned child! But don't worry, they will figure out the how to do it, you just worry about the when they do it, because it's going to happen on your watch, then you can foot the bill!!! Blaming Planned Parenthood isn't the answer. Education is the key.

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Article comment by: Need more money!!

Planned parenthood must be running low on income because abortions are down. Something that always works - brings in more abortion business - let them help "teach" the youths about sex, birth control, etc,. and it always has the desired results, more teen pregnancies and more abortions and more money!

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Article comment by: Remember When You Were Young?

Anyone who remembers what being a teenager was like, will support the efforts to reduce teen pregnancies. PERIOD.

Honest prayer never hurt anyone, but birth control is more effective!

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Article comment by: New School Year Top Subject ...


The 100% Education Vouchers Plan is good for
Arizona students (1 - 12 ). Vouchers give parents
choice of education for their children.

Thanks and Good Luck,

Frank Henry

Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014
Article comment by: History Buff

Planned Parenthood and it's founder Margret Sanger have a long history of eugenics, forced sterilizations, racial targeting, and more. Presenting this group as a force for good is as tasteless as lauding ISIS would be.



Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
Article comment by: Abstinence worked really well With Sara Palin's daughter

Let's see...the baby boy she had would about 6-7 yrs old now. Teach him abstinence and he too will be a proud papa in less than 10 yrs!

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
Article comment by: Ann Rant

I'd recommend waiting until marrying one's spouse to have sex, but I'd super-highly recommend safe sex if you can't wait. For kids who can get no information from their parents other than "abstinence", "it's a sin" and "you'll go to hell" this is a very good resource.

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
Article comment by: Alice Ayers

Ah, the sex education curriculum of the American high school... I recall distinctly sex-ed week in Decisions class at Mingus. The kindly instructor offered a piece of gum to a boy in the front row, let him chew it for a few minutes before asking him to spit it back into the wrapper. She then held aloft the chewed-upon piece of gum, asked if anybody wanted it, and proceeded to explain that, ladies, once you give it away once, you become this very same chewed-up piece of gum, and do you suppose that anyone will want you after that?

It definitely left an impression. This is AZ sex education at work- bury your heads in the sand and shout ABSTINENCE at everyone.

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
Article comment by: Will 'At so many

Either come home pregnant or having impregnated somebody? Or get's injured trying to use some urban myth for preventing pregnancy?

Rather than allowing the kids to be informed of the reality of sex/safe sex you choose to simply say 'abstinence' and then place your heads back in the sand?

Knowledge is power and kids should have the power to make safe informed choices.

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
Article comment by: Tweetie Byrd

Making birth control available does not mean all teenagers will be out there doing whatever they feel like doing. Time and time again, it has been shown that merely teaching abstinence does not work. Teenage pregnancy should not be a punishment for mistakes being made. Too many people suffer when this happens, including the child, oftentimes. Teenagers need to be taught the the truth of their actions and be prepared to make difficult decisions. It would be nice if we lived in a perfect world, but we don't.

Posted: Friday, August 22, 2014
Article comment by: So many things wrong with this Message here.... Uhh what about abstinence???

This letter is basically saying this with a different topic, does it sound outlandish to you: Killers kill, fact of life,nothing you can do about it, so let's give them the loaded gun so killers can have the best tools they need so they can make the best decisions for themselves. Or, kids drink beer and do drugs too, so if and when kids are ready to do drugs/drink, with the support of their family and planned parenthood being there to make sure they do it in a responsible way, the kids can voyage freely on this psychadelic ride while we teach them to stay away from the cheap beer and go with classier drugs than meth.
Ms. Perez and planned parenthood indicates that because so many kids are doing it, it makes it completely healthy and normal. You are wrong though, whether you accept it or not.
"Moral principles do not depend on a majority vote. Wrong is wrong, even if everybody is wrong. Right is right, even if nobody is right." Venerable Servant of God Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. What can help the most is pray for God to bless our youth and these young families that are struggling with the temptations from the devil, keep them out of these snares of sin, it is needed more today than ever in this culture of death.

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