Make Family Life Education Available to All Students

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Dear Editor:

Eastern Shore Healthy Communities and Eastern Shore Rural Health believe that all Eastern Shore residents can experience well-being if we create a supportive environment. We ask our public schools to join us in this vision by ensuring that all students receive Family Life Education.

While families are most influential on a child’s knowledge of human sexuality, families vary in their ability to have the discussion. More than a third of teens are sexually active and many understand very little about human sexuality. Early in their formative years, teens need to understand how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), date rape, and pregnancy. Also, too many young children are sexual abuse victims, often within their own home. Teaching boundaries and having adults in their daily lives who teach these boundaries gives these vulnerable children the support they need.

Babies born to teen mothers are at greater risk for low birth weight, premature birth, anemia (low iron levels), and are more likely to die before age 1. They are less prepared to enter kindergarten, rely more heavily on publicly funded health care, more likely to be incarcerated during adolescence, and more likely to drop out of high school.

Being a teen mom is a risk factor for depression, poor health, obesity, and poverty. Just half of teen mothers get their high school diploma before age 22. But many of our adult mothers still struggle to achieve healthy pregnancies – many suffer complications due to
preventable problems like diabetes and hypertension, which can be life threatening to mothers and babies. Education is a fundamental ingredient to decreasing risk.

As we move into the 2021-2022 academic year, please make Family Life Education available to all students. Compared to virtual education it’s a fairly minor change!

Sandra Balmoria, M.D., Co-Chair,
Better Birth Outcomes Work Group
Eastern Shore Healthy Communities

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