Thursday, February 22, 2007

Mandatory HPV Vaccine is the Wrong Focus for our Youth

Today I realized once again why I am doing this work with youth. I was at the ULTRA Teen Choice Service Club meeting at Eastern High School. One of the Club Members indicated that they would like to attend one of the events that are occurring during Abstinence Awareness. That in itself is not unusual. But what I felt behind it is the sincere desire to respond to the caring that our staff is expressing by having the ULTRA Teen Choice program for the youth. Another youth stopped me a few meetings ago, and asked if I had her new phone number. She knows that sometimes staff will call to update parents and students on current activities.

What if there were Clubs for all of the youth who want to make right choices and practice abstinence from sex before marriage and other healthy behaviors? For a very nominal cost we can encourage youth to make right choices.

Many youth in DC have difficult home situations. They may have moved several times between different relatives, and a significant percentage are not living with either their mom or their dad. Clubs that promote abstinence and avoidance of other risk behaviors, and that give participating youth a chance to speak out to other students, are a good investment, indeed.

There has been talk about requiring all 6th grade girls in DC to get a three part inoculation for Human papillomavirus, a sexually transmitted disease that is the primary cause of cervical cancer. This will cost $360 per student, and will last no more that five years. Side effects of the drug for children this young are unknown, and the drug will wear off before the peak age when most girls would be exposed to the virus.

How about "inoculating" youth with an injection of Clubs that promote abstinence from sex before marriage for middle school students, and also continuing support for high school youth, staffed by caring and well trained adults, including mentor "STAR Guides from local universities?. For about the same cost per student as this vaccination, we can provide clubs for thirty 7th and 8th grade students for five years at every middle school. Also, these students will reach out to all of the other 7th and 8th grade youth, and additionally, parents will receive education, too. For a very nominal cost, we can also provide classroom education on the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and teen pregnancy that emphasizes the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social benefits of abstaining from sex before marriage.

How can we not support these precious youth who sincerely want to better their lives? Giving vaccinations has its place, but isn't the real issue one of addressing the whole person, physically, intellectually, emotionally, and socially? Let's give our youth a brighter future by promoting self control, relationship skills, and preparation for healthy relationships with the opposite sex. Focusing on giving vaccines for sexually transmitted diseases to eleven year old girls is the wrong focus. Focusing on education and peer plus adult support for youth to stay abstinent is the right focus.

1 comment:

  1. San San San5:06 PM

    The focus of t=giving the HPV vaccine is not to tell these girls that they're allowed to have sex, it's to make sure that they are safeguarded against something that can seriously harm them whether or not they are sexually active.


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