Teens deserve sex education, for society's benefit
Abstinence-based sex education programs do little to prevent or reduce teenage pregnancy. Yet, we allow our state's conservative values to influence and police sexuality.
Adolescent pregnancy has a hugely negative impact on mothers, children and the greater community. Teen parents graduate from high school at lower rates than their childless counterparts, their earning potential and acquisition of higher-learning degrees diminished.
This leads to cyclical poverty and dependency on subsidized programs that prolong poverty.
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With only one-third of surveyed Kentucky schools providing comprehensive sex education, unintended teen pregnancy is a community problem. Realistic, straightforward, mandatory sexual education for Kentucky's kids is a crucial step in decreasing the number of teen pregnancies.
We disrespect teenagers by treating them as if they aren't intelligent enough to be given real-world education about sexuality and reproductive health. Teens are asking for better communication — from parents, teachers, administrators and mentors.
Do we want to continue to let them down? Or should we stand up on behalf of Kentucky's kids and fight for their chance at a future that offers independence, choice and opportunity?
If we truly love our children, we must provide them with the tools needed to make intelligent choices. Parents, educators and public officials owe young people the maximum — not minimum — amount of education about sexual reproduction.
We would like to commend the April 17 editorial, "Teen pregnancy: cycle of despair." It is not often that someone is willing to step away from the norm of society and say what needs to be said — that abstinence does not work for everyone.
Pro-abstinence groups, such as The Heritage Foundation, make claims that comprehensive sex education programs support teens having sex as long as they use contraception.
These kinds of assumptions couldn't be further from the truth. The purpose of comprehensive sex education programs is merely to educate and inform teenagers of their options, as well as the consequences of their choices.
According to Avert (international HIV and AIDS charity), "Studies have repeatedly shown that sex education does not lead to earlier onset of sexual activity among young people."
Legislators have to get it out of their minds that they are promoting sexual activity by endorsing sex education programs. These programs are acknowledging the fact that teenagers have minds and biological inclinations just as adults do, which means that unlike pro-abstinence campaigns they are realistic in their approach.
Obviously, no parent ever wants to think about his or her child having sex, but the reality is that it is going to happen at some point, and that child is going to be the one to make the decision of when.
We urge legislators, educators and, most importantly, parents to join the fight to further the education of young Kentuckians.
Gene Moore and Leahna Talbert
I don't usually waste my time with letters to the editor, but I just had to respond to the April 22 commentary about gun control by Adam Winkler, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.
On March 18, a 16-year-old kid was shot and killed; a few days later the Herald-Leader reported that the shooter was a 21-year-old convicted felon, not legally allowed to have a weapon (imagine that), who had broken the terms of his parole before the shooting.
So, instead of having the thug in jail where he belonged because of the parole violation, a judge had changed the terms of his parole so he could be back on the street.
As a result, Chaz Black and two other teens were shot. I guess it was more important that the thug be back on the street than in jail, where he should have been.
Gun control has rarely helped the law-abiding citizen. The thugs are going to get their guns. What we need is criminal control.
Foreign policy disasters
Kudos to our current administration in Washington for spending millions of taxpayer dollars for a one-day campaign trip to Afghanistan to sign a meaningless agreement with a regime that condones shooting American soldiers in the back.
This was just the latest in a long line of foreign policy disasters that date back over 20 years. The former administration spent billions to depose Saddam Hussein, somehow forgetting that Iraq was the only nation in that region capable of keeping Iran in check. Oops!
It seems our foreign policy experts will never learn that you cannot buy friendship and trust from those who hate you and your values. Ron Paul was the only presidential candidate with the guts to approach our foreign policy with straight talk and common sense.
I've got an outrageous idea: Let's keep our money at home and take care of hardworking, taxpaying citizens who love and respect our country.
Robert J. Sturdivant
Help reduce recidivism
It is promising to see the Fayette County jail offer a program to reduce recidivism.
Results from a study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh show inmates who received services similar to the one instituted here had a 16.5 percent recidivism rate, compared with 33 percent in those who had no services.
The same study suggested a savings to the county of $5.3 million in inmate housing costs. Such a savings in all Kentucky counties would be very beneficial to the already cash-strapped court system, saving millions in the coming years.
The recidivism reduction program offers education, skills and support during and after incarceration. The program needs community involvement to achieve the most benefits for the offenders. Employers should be willing to support this worthwhile cause by providing jobs for those involved.
When inmates are released with no way to legally make money, they are more likely to re-offend. For those who take the stance toward offenders of "you get what you deserve," remember they must have a way to support themselves when released.
If they have no skills or job prospects, then as crime rates rise, all of us are at risk of becoming victims of those crimes. Let's support positive alternatives for those willing to put in the work and make changes in their lives.
Beth Lawson and Matthew Hawthorne
I wish the May 1 article concerning the making of meth, or "crank" as I have heard it called, mentioned that it is difficult to make pseudoephedrine in gel form into illegal drugs.
The Herald-Leader should be more enlightening and informative at all times.