Commendations to Judy Bysshe, chairwoman for almost two years of the Ventura County Task Force to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Ms. Bysshe's leadership of the task force, of which I was a member, was exemplary, especially considering that our membership was composed of people representing diverse viewpoints.
We all agreed that 14-year-old girls should not get pregnant. We all agreed that sexual abstinence is the only sure way to avoid pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. We agreed that it's time to enforce the statutory rape law, especially when so many of our young girls are impregnated by adults.
There were areas in which we did not agree. Rather than compromise, both positions were stated in the text of our paper under "Different Views." The primary difference was that some of us believe that providing contraceptive access while promoting abstinence gives a mixed message. It also sanctions and promotes promiscuity, which results in increased pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
We found that sex education in public schools has not resulted in lowering the rate of teen pregnancies. But where we looked at sexual abstinence programs, the teen pregnancy rates had been significantly reduced.
Some of us recommended that parents of public school students be offered a choice in selecting the type of sex education program their student takes: 1) a skills-based comprehensive abstinence-only curriculum, or 2) comprehensive sex education that includes contraception education.
Condoms aren't the answer. Planned Parenthood has stated that condoms have a 15.7% failure rate (Family Planning Perspectives, 6/89), when trying to prevent pregnancy. Remembering that a woman can conceive only about three days per month, we can only guess how high the failure rate for condoms must be in preventing disease, which can be transmitted 365 days per year.
The young victim who is told that this latex device is safe may not know he or she is risking lifelong pain and even death for so brief a window of pleasure.
KATHLEEN PARSA, R.N., Ventura