Schools Can’t Even Give A Kid An Aspirin, But They Can Give Them Birth Control Pills? By Betsy Newmark

If a kid is sick at school, teachers aren’t allowed to give out any medicine at all – not any aspirin or Tylenol. You never know what allergies a kid might have. And for kids who have to take a prescription, even a pill for acne, they must have a doctor’s note and go to the office to take it in front of a designated secretary. They can get in trouble if they take medicine on their own. This is the world we live in.

And this is also the world we inhabit. A middle school in Maine is considering a policy to allow students in sixth to eighth grade to get birth control pills without their parent’s knowledge. If a parent signs a permission for their child to be treated medically at school, the child could then go to get the birth control without the school having to get specific permission from the parent.

Students who have parental permission to be treated at King Middle School’s health center would be able to get birth control prescriptions under a proposal that the Portland School Committee will consider Wednesday.

The proposal would build on the King Student Health Center’s practice of providing condoms as part of its reproductive health program since it opened in 2000, said Lisa Belanger, a nurse practitioner who oversees the city’s student health centers.

If the committee approves the King proposal, it would be the first middle school in Maine to make a full range of contraception available to some students in grades 6 to 8, said Nancy Birkhimer, director of teen health programs for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services. Most middle schoolers are ages 11-13.

Although students must have written parental permission to be treated at Portland’s school-based health centers, state law allows them to seek confidential health care and to decide whether to inform their parents about the services they receive, Belanger said.

Proponents say a small number of King students are sexually active, but those who are need better access to birth control.

Of 134 students who visited King’s health center during the 2006-07 school year, five students, or 4 percent, reported having sexual intercourse, said Amanda Rowe, lead nurse in Portland’s school health centers.

Of course, most parents would usually be willing to sign a permission for their child to be treated in the school health center. You wouldn’t want to risk your child getting injured and treatment being delayed because they couldn’t reach you. But I bet there are quite a few parents who would think twice about signing off if they knew that their sixth grader could then get birth control pills without their knowledge.

I don’t know about Maine, but in North Carolina, I had to sign a permission for my daughter to get her ears pierced. But birth control pills – apparently that is considered less of a parent’s business. Gosh, I feel like an old fogey when I see stories like this.

This content was used with the permission of Betsy’s Page.

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