Column on teen sex should spark discussion, Protesters highlight gap between rich and poor

Column on teen sex should spark discussion

I am writing in response to the excellent guest column by Rubi Vergara-Grindell in last month's News-Times column, 'High school should address teen sex.'

There are many factors that contribute both to rates of teen pregnancy and to the transmission of the various sexually transmitted diseases.

These public health issues are multi-determined; their resolution, or even reduction, is not a simple matter. There are a number of realities I would like News-Times readers to consider with regard to this controversy.

A. The profit-driven adult world in our civilization feeds its young people, at all levels of the socioeconomic continuum, a steady diet of highly sexualized messages through various media and entertainment outlets, including but not limited to television, music, video games, movies and magazines.

B. Many of our youth are raised by one highly stressed parent who is struggling to make ends meet; many others are raised by two parents engaged in the same struggle.

C. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), about half of all high school students in the U.S. report having had sexual intercourse in a given year (the percentage has declined slightly over the past few years).

D. The U.S. continues to have among the highest teen pregnancy, birth, and abortion rates in the developed world.

E. The single biggest predictive factor for teen pregnancy is having had a teenage mother oneself.

F. The expense to our society for having children born to parents who are not prepared, or eager, to raise and love a child is incalculably high. Abortion is physically, psychically, emotionally, and, in many other ways, costly.

G. Condoms used consistently and correctly are a very effective means for preventing both pregnancy and the spread of STDs.

Why would we not provide condoms, other contraceptives and disease-fighting tools, along with expert and compassionate counseling and education at many locations available to teens, including the high schools they attend daily?

I applaud Ms. Vergara-Grindell for having the courage to address this issue, both at FGHS and with Forest Grove through the pages of the News-Times.

Alan Hershman

Forest Grove

Protesters highlight gap between rich and poor

'The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.'

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

'There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.'

- Elie Wiesel

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), founded October 1, 1955, is the largest and most recognized membership organization of professional social workers in the world, representing more than 145,000 members from 56 chapters in the United States and abroad.

The NASW Oregon Chapter is an organization that is committed to the cause of social justice, and we support the efforts and values of the Occupy movement.

These protests have helped bring attention to the growing divide between the advantages of the few who are wealthy and the struggles of the many who are in poverty, or at its brink.

Though their individual grievances vary, these protesters are united under the banner 'We are the 99%,' and by the governing ideal that peaceful protest and assembly are basic human rights.

As social workers, we understand that a just society must provide for the needs and well-being of all of its members, not just the privileged and affluent. We understand the impact of economic systems and institutions and how, when implemented unfairly, they can engender physical, emotional and social problems.

Our economy has led to widespread hardship and privation, where we are witnessing declining wages, rising debt, and the risk of deep and persistent poverty for many. Social workers know that joblessness and economic insecurity contribute to the incidence of mental illness, family violence, suicide, substance abuse, crime, and diminished capacity for healthy family and community functioning.

It is this knowledge and experience that gives the social work profession a special responsibility to advocate for income, employment, and social support policies that promote the economic justice and social well-being of all members of society.

The NASW Oregon Chapter Board of Directors fully supports the Occupy movement and encourages social workers, social work students, and our allies to join in this support as they see fit. We believe this is an important, significant movement that promotes both social and economic justice - fundamental elements of the mission of social work.

- Elaine Charpentier Philippi, of Forest Grove, is a member of the NASW Oregon Chapter Board of Directors.

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