Schools must fill in parenting gaps

Distributing birth control pills to middle school students is a gamble.There’s controversy over this issue because city officials in Maine passed a plan that will allow middle school students to receive birth control pills without direct parental consent.

King Middle School will become the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available, according to an article by the Associated Press.

Students must have parental consent in order to be treated at the school health center, but treatment is confidential under state law, according to the article.

It is then up to students to inform their parents about the services they receive.

It’s also up to parents to ask.

On one hand, it seems reasonable that parents should have the right and responsibility to make health care decisions for their child. On the other hand, it may be more important for a young person to have access to confidential medical services than to require that parents be informed of their child’s condition.

Minors who are sexually active, pregnant or infected with a sexually transmitted disease, and those who abuse drugs or alcohol or suffer from emotional or psychological problems may avoid seeking care if they must involve their parents.

“About one-fourth of student health centers that serve at least one grade of adolescents 11 and older dispense some form of contraception,” said Divya Mohan, a spokeswoman for the National Assembly of School-Based Health Care, in an article by The Associated Press.

Education should ideally begin in the home, but when there are gaps in that education, it’s the responsibility of schools to fill them.

Opinion editor Sonya Cisneros for the editorial board.