January 18, 2008

 

Taylor Introduces Parental Notification Act

MADISON – On Friday, Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) introduced Senate Bill 400 the Parental Notification Act.  The bill requires school districts that teach abstinence-only sexual education programs to notify parents that their children are not receiving information on things like sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention or pregnancy prevention.

“Educating our children is job one when it comes to fighting AIDS, teen pregnancy, and STDs,” Taylor commented. “We need to promote scholastic programming that details the variety of preventive measures available to our young people.  Giving them the tools to protect themselves is the best thing we can do for them.”

Both Taylor and the Act’s Assembly co-author, Tamara Grigsby (D-Milwaukee), represent Milwaukee in the Legislature.  For the past decade, Milwaukee has ranked among the top ten major U.S. cities in rate of teen pregnancy.  According to one recent study, over 2,000 babies are born to teen mothers in Milwaukee each year. 

“Beyond the raw statistics, the sheer social cost of teen pregnancy in Milwaukee is just astounding,” said Taylor. “In terms of lost opportunities for the mothers, disadvantaged childhoods for the kids, and the cost—both financial and social—for the entire Milwaukee community, teen pregnancy is a major threat to our city.”

Studies around the nation have repeatedly shown that comprehensive sexual education is the most effective means of preventing teen pregnancy, as well as the spread of AIDS and other STDs.  Research shows that children who receive abstinence-only education are more likely to be involved in teen pregnancies than are children who receive comprehensive sexual education.

“There’s a lot to be said on behalf of abstinence as a preventative measure,” noted Taylor. “But an abstinence-only program ignores the needs of a lot of students who, rightly or wrongly, engage in premarital sexual activity.  It’s best for us all if they’re equipped with the knowledge needed to be responsible and safe.”

Taylor said that she hoped the Act would be a boost to parents, as well as schools. “I hope parents will use this legislation to take a more active role in educating their children and that it will foster a more comprehensive dialogue in our schools when it comes to prevention.  This is a controversial issue to some people, but it’s too important not to push forward on.  Parents need to know what education their child is getting.”