Kids Are Getting Morning After Pill at School

plan bImagine what life must be like at a school that gives away so many morning after pills to students that nurses actually run out of their supply. That's a problem the Stowe School in the UK is dealing with. They can barely keep up with the demand for emergency contraceptives! What are those kids up to?!? Never mind -- I think we know all too well.

This isn't just a problem for schools overseas, though. Many public schools in the U.S. give out Plan B pills to students, too. You'd be surprised how many, in fact.

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According to a 2013 New York Times article, school-based health centers prescribe or distribute Plan B in New York City, Oakland, Baltimore, Chicago, and all over Colorado. The 13 schools in New York City that make Plan B available to students do so only after a phone consultation with a doctor, and parents have the choice of opting out. So it's not like they're just giving the stuff out like candy. Actually, they're not even giving out candy at school like it's candy ... er, but that's a whole other issue.

Still, I'm not sure I love the idea of Plan B being available at schools. I understand the rationale -- if you're trying to prevent teenage pregnancies, you make that happen wherever you can. School is one place where you're guaranteed to reach kids. And the nurse's office is one of the first places a girl in trouble is going to go. You don't want to have to send her to a second location, to see a stranger, in order to help her prevent an unwanted pregnancy. (Remember -- Plan B is not an abortion pill.)

What worries me as a parent is that Plan B is prescription medication with side-effects. Wouldn't you need to know a patient's history before prescribing it? It's not like handing out an aspirin. And while it's highly effective, it's not as effective as being on the pill or using a condom. I hope schools that make it available are also informing kids of that.

I think it's also a matter of emphasis. You'd rather teach kids to plan ahead and be prepared than to rely on less-reliable safety nets after the fact. I have zero faith in abstinence-only programs because the research shows they're just not working. But I think it may be the abstinence mindset that makes emergency contraception so necessary. How are you supposed to be prepared for sex if you think you're not going to have sex in the first place -- right? You're not going to buy condoms or go on the pill.

It's a good thing some kids have access to Plan B, I guess. But it sure isn't ideal that it's offered at some schools.

Do you think schools should make Plan B available to students under any circumstances?

 

Image © iStock.com/kokouu

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