I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
NM teen pregnancy rate prompts calls for mandatory sex ed in schools
In light of a new study that ranks New Mexico and Texas dead last in teen pregnancies by state, the Doña Ana Teen Prevention Work Group is calling on legislators to mandate sex education as part of a health class requirement.
The Kids Count 2008 data book released June 12, states that the New Mexico’s teen birth rate was 62 teen births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19 compared to the national average of 40.
Doña Ana County ranked worst in New Mexico with 606 of Las Cruces’ hospital births belonging to school-age mothers.
Availability of abortion services is another concern with reports of pregnant teens crossing the border into Juarez in order to terminate their pregnancies.
According to the Las Cruces Sun-News:
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Workgroup Chairman Earl Nissen of Las Cruces said he had heard two recent reports of girls from Doña Ana County traveling to Mexico for an abortion.
"If someone wants to terminate their pregnancy in Doña Ana County, it’s a hard process to get done. That’s something we have to address," Nissen said… The nearest abortion services to Las Cruces are provided in El Paso, Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The 2008 Strategic Planning Report put out by the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Work Group states that its ongoing goal is to:
Establish policies that ensure easy access to unbiased sex health education for preteens/teens, utilizing age-appropriate language and culturally-sensitive strategies. Ensure access in middle/high schools, and in rural areas. Connect sex health education to the state health curriculum.
In spite of the steep numbers, sex education is still a controversial subject when talking about making it mandatory in public schools. Las Cruces Public Schools Superintendent Stan Rounds stated in the Las Cruces Sun-News article that:
"It’s a bigger issue, unfortunately, than just education. It’s a societal values issue, it’s a community attentiveness and intervention issue. I think if we had the magic bullet, we’d have already solved this issue," Rounds said. "I’ve been in this particular debate several times. Legislating it doesn’t make it work any better than making it work at a local policy level."
A study of 2000 students in abstinence only programs over four to six years by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated "no effect on the sexual abstinence of youth."
The Doña Ana County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Work Group plans to meet with legislators at its August meeting.