By Brian Johnsrud
In Amercia, if students have headaches, they go to the school nurse and get some aspirin. Upset stomach? Maybe some Pepto-Bismol. But in France, students can now casually go to the the school nurse and get a different drug birth control.
Safe sex has been a growing concern in many countries for decades. In-class education, televison ads, and other techniqus have been constantly applied to inform students especially of the risks of unprotected sex and the importance of abstinance. On January 8th, France was the first country to openly give birth control to its students. These "day after pills" are of no charge, and the nurse isn't required to notify the parents whatsoever. They can be distributed to either the high schools or the middle schools, giving students as young as 12 years old acess to these pills.
Why would they do this? France has an unexpected high rate of teen pregnancy and teen abortion. They feel this effort will lower those figures significantly.
The drug's brand name is Norvelo. Contrary to "late-birth" pills, it simply prevents an egg from being implanted into the womb. This pill is also sold over-the-counter at many drug stores.
Unlike France, birth control in America can only be purchased with a prescription from a doctor.
The popularity of this new policy seems to be well thought of for the most part. Others, however, mostly parents, feel that the casual dispersal of "day after" pills may be wrong. They think that it will belittle the importance of teen abstinance, and students' understanding of the seriousness of STD's (Sexualy Tran-smitted Diseases.)
This new policy might make it appear to teens that condoms are unessesary. This seems to be largely important because of the inadequate sexual education of French students. Without such openess on the subject as American schools, safe sex is often never discussed in French high schools and middle schools, or if it is, often it's mistaught. Many teens believe that it takes more than once to get pregnant, and that sex during menstration has no risks.
In America, the rate of teen pregnancy has decreased in the last decade. In 1998, 51 out of 1,000 females ages 15-19 had given birth to a child, an 18 percent decline since 1991. Although researchers believe it to be a greater rise in contraception to aid in this decrease, not a larger amount of abortions. In America, however, the use of contraception the first time they had sex has risen in teens drastically from 48 percent in 1982 to 76 percent in 1995.