Forget sneaking off to Planned Parenthood or the pharmacy two towns over with your best friend, teens at one upstate New York high school will be able to get their pregnancy tests and STD testing right at their public school.
The board of education in Port Chester, a village not far from Manhattan, approved a plan that will put the pregnancy and STD test into the clinics that serve kids in kindergarten through twelfth grade.
According to LoHud.com, this will fall under the auspices of the Open Door Health Clinic, a federally-funded healthcare program staffed with certified nurse practitioners who supply healthcare to kids from immunizations to vision and mental health screenings. The free healthcare for kids sounds like a godsend for parents (especially in this economy).
But is there any surprise this particular offering has already created some controversy? It didn’t even earn a unanimous vote from the board of ed, with one member stating she thought Open Door was trying to turn the school into a “a quasi-maternity clinic.” What’s more, the board member says she didn’t think the girls should learn they’re pregnant at school without the school being able to then notify parents.
There are parents who are behind it (and obviously the majority of the board), and as the mother of a daughter, I’d like to see this sort of program expanded. Keeping the parents out of it seems the only way to make this sort of program a success.
Because tell kids you won’t tell their parents, and you’ll gain their trust. Trust that’s needed to treat them medically.
With pregnancy, especially, time is of the essence. Whether it’s so a girl knows early enough so she can abort or so she knows early enough to begin prenatal care in cases where she is going to keep the child or give him or her up for adoption. It’s a health and safety issue as much for the baby as it is for the girl – and with four in ten sexually active girls ending up pregnant before they hit twenty, it’s a health and safety issue that’s widespread.
STD care is likewise vital, and it applies not just to girls but to the teenage boys too. In a country where one in four sexually active teens ends up with some sort of sexually transmitted disease, leaving children too afraid to go to the doctor because using Mom and Dad’s medical insurance will trigger something means they are less likely to get care at all.
The fact is – if kids go somewhere else, parents are no more likely to know. An at-home pregnancy test isn’t going to send a teen to tell her parents or to make her take care of herself. A test in a clinic with healthcare professionals will allow for good care plus a trusted adult counseling them in HOW to tell their parents.
In the end, kids are kids – and they don’t always have the common sense to weigh out all of their options. Instead, they ignore the problem in the hopes it will go away. Opening the door to a good option right inside their school could save kids both their health and their lives.
Would you support this kind of program in your child’s school?