Teens living in small towns in B.C. are more likely


#1

Teens living in small towns in B.C. are more likely than their counterparts in Vancouver to be sexually active, contract sexually transmitted infections, or get pregnant. This is not because they are less responsible or savvy than their urban pals but because they don’t have the same access to sexual-health information and services.

In theory, reproductive choice is a universal right throughout Canada; in reality, it varies according to postal code. Here in B.C., there is no provincial strategy for teen sexual-health programs. Because access and privacy, taken for granted in larger urban centres, depend in part on funding and partly on the very personal values of local residents, school boards, and doctors, they are privileges not necessarily enjoyed in smaller communities.

Take the town of Port Alice, little more than 800 strong, on northern Vancouver Island, a region with the highest rate of chlamydia (326.2 per 100,000 people compared to 261.9 for Vancouver, according to 2002 figures from the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control). Chlamydia is an often symptomless, sexually transmitted infection that, if left untreated, can cause pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility. In a phone interview with the Georgia Straight, George Markides, principal of Sea View elementary-junior secondary school, which serves kindergarten to Grade 10 students in the town, said he realizes there’s a dearth of reproductive services.

For a sexually active teenager in Port Alice looking for contraceptives, emergency contraception, or STI testing, the challenges are prohibitive. First, there’s the confidentiality issue. “You can get condoms at the grocery store,” Markides said, “but everybody knows everybody here.”

Then there’s the problem of access. “We have three doctors that rotate in,” Markides said, “but they’re all men. There are doctors in Port Hardy and Port McNeill, but they’re 50 minutes away, and there’s no bus service there. You could take a taxi, but that would be very expensive.” A pregnant teenager wanting an abortion is looking at a couple-of-hours’ drive to Campbell River.

Markides acknowledged that the sex-education program in his school isn’t doing all that it could, either. “In Grade 5, the public-health nurse comes in to talk to the girls and boys separately about the basics of puberty. Career and Personal Planning covers a little, then Science 9 covers some of it. But the programs are not great.”

The school does make available to students the Options toll-free Facts of Life information line, but there is no reproductive clinic in town. Options, a nonprofit society with 41 clinics throughout the province offering birth control, STI testing, and pregnancy counselling, was formerly known as Planned Parenthood.

Marilyn Graham, a public-health nurse at the Port Hardy health clinic to the north, teaches basic sex ed to the fifth-graders at Sea View. “Apart from that, the kids get their information from their parents, from each other, and from TV,” she said during a phone interview. “Oh, and there’s a church group that tries to instill an abstinence approach.”

For kids in Cranbrook in East Kootenay–which, together with the West Kootenay region has one of the highest rates of sexually active teens in the province–there isn’t a whole lot of choice either. (Thirty-one percent of teens in the Kootenays are sexually active, compared to 18 percent in the Greater Vancouver Regional District, according to the 2003 Adolescent Health Survey by Burnaby’s McCreary Centre Society, a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to improving the health of B.C. youth.)

Kids in Cranbrook can go to an Options clinic in town, but their “options” are severely limited. The place is only open one night a week for a few hours. And the alternatives are restricted, clinic supervisor Linda Douglas said in a phone interview. “Some physicians won’t prescribe birth control to teenage girls, and some are against emergency contraception,” Douglas said. For an abortion, the journey is downright arduous: three to four hours through mountain passes into West Kootenay. “Geography is a huge issue here.”

Some towns in B.C. are making concerted efforts to turn around the alarming statistics. According to Prince Rupert public-health nurse Jane Wilde, who is also an Options clinic supervisor, in the late 1980s teen-pregnancy rates on the northern coast of B.C., including Prince Rupert, were the highest in the province. From 1999 to 2001, teen pregnancies in the community of 14,000 still ranked relatively high, at 56.7 per 1,000 in the 15-to-17 age group (more than double Vancouver’s rate of 21.6), but Vancouver Island North, which has about the same population, had taken over top spot, with 61 pregnancies per 1,000 in the 15-to-17-year range. Wilde attributes the decrease to the fact that nurses, teachers, and social workers have teamed up to ensure there is a full spectrum of confidential sexual-health services and a comprehensive education program in the schools.

“We have a lot of supportive family doctors here,” she said in a phone interview, “but teenagers have this absolutely irrational fear that all adults will immediately get on the phone with their parents. After six years, the clinic has established trust with the kids.” Up to 30 teenagers visit the clinic each week.

Education is equally important, according to Wilde. "We live in a culture where there’s this strange combination of overt sexuality and repression. Kids are being exposed at a very young age to sexual practices I never knew existed before I was 35, some of it exploitive and violent. They get confused. They want to talk about it; they’re desperate to talk about it. We provide a balance. And we’re not saying, ‘Go have sex.’ What we say is, ‘Here’s all the information you need to make informed decisions.’ "

Until the B.C. government develops a provincewide sexual-health strategy, however, Prince Rupert will likely remain an exception rather than the rule. And kids who live outside the bigger cities, the hundreds of thousands of kids who live in B.C.'s many rural and remote towns, will continue to pay the price in unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections.


#2

Interesting post, but what is the source of the article?


#3

I don’t feel it is up to the government to help control teen pregnancy. I would rather the government focus on other health issues.
All teenagers know that there is contraception galore out there. We are all aware of STDs, but some people continue to practise unsafe sex. Now how is that the government’s responsibility?? What exactly are they supposed to do?
Nothing can change a teen’s mind about having sex. They are not going to get in the heat of the moment and then think about the government program they were forced to go through and be like, "no wait, i can not have sex."
Get real.


#4

[quote=“Prudence”]I don’t feel it is up to the government to help control teen pregnancy. I would rather the government focus on other health issues.
All teenagers know that there is contraception galore out there. We are all aware of STDs, but some people continue to practise unsafe sex. Now how is that the government’s responsibility?? What exactly are they supposed to do?
Nothing can change a teen’s mind about having sex. They are not going to get in the heat of the moment and then think about the government program they were forced to go through and be like, "no wait, i can not have sex."
Get real.[/quote]

oh wait:

[quote]
they don’t have the same access to sexual-health information and services.[/quote]

read -> comprehend -> post.

being horny != having unprotected sex…

Cant you see how the parade of teen mothers pushing double-wide baby strollers from bc housing to zellers every goddamn day could possibly be a result of this lack of access to information and services?

gee whiz, could these same people who didnt get it drilled into their skulls it was a good idea to wear a condom or use birth control be the ones having a bunch of kids at age 16 and sponging off the government for the rest of their lives? and being such awesome role models for their offspring who will undoubtedly learn how to live and become responsible for their own fates?


#5

well, not to be racist, but the majority of teen mothers are of first nations decent. the bands encourage the youth to reproduce, cause there motto seems to be leech off the government. I believe the government shouldnt pool a whole bunch of money into this area. the health units etc… that are around is enough. with the sex ed in schools is all that can be done.
the government cant stand there when your pricking your girlfriend to tell you to wrap it, or tell you evernight to take your pill. its a thing called responsiblity, and if these teens cant be responsible enough to wear a condom or something, it may reflect on the types of parents they would make.

</my 2 cents>


#6

^ ^
fuck you’re a fruit cakle…


corrupt file:
so you’re saying the situation is helpless?? or what. you suggest we allow these people to keep doing what they’re doing?

Or should we try to take more steps to encourage these people to fornicate responsibly, helping them sidestep the “oops, giant financial burden that i am not able to deal with” type mistakes that eventually get shovelled off onto government services.

I read once that a fetal alcohol baby in BC had like a net cost to the government of $750,000 by the time it was all said and done, above and beyond the cost of a normal kid…not even looking at the human costs of the situation - wouldnt spending $1,000,000 on a program to scare the shit out of moms so they werent drinking while pregnant make financial sense?

the article is trying to show how people in remote communities are getting shafted in terms of either dollars spent on solving it, or effectiveness in solving it (stupid people, band councils actively trying to scam the government :unamused: … whatever you want to write it off as).

So far we’ve had two posts that basically say “we’re doing all we can, we shouldnt have to spend more” … well wake up… we end up spending way more in the long term.


#7

I didn’t think much of the subject until a few years ago when a bunch of mothers came into my shop to copy a petition to stop the school from discussing sex or disseminating (what a loaded word huh) birth control info. I thought I’d moved to 1950!
Then I overheard my daughter’s 15 yr old friend telling her that if she didn’t want to get pregnant or diseased she should let him “term crude people use for anal sex”.
I also overhear them discuss abortion as ‘I never could’. About three seconds of thought and it’s the opinion of 90% of the teen girls in this town. After going to dozens of pro-choice rallies with my ex, our daughter spends more mental energy on a decision over hair gel.


#8

Corrupt, someone once told me that FN teen moms have their kids while non-FN young woman have a higher abortion rate. Don’t know about the veracity of this but it could explain why more there are more first nations teen moms out there.


#9

This is a funny way to use statistics:

326.2 divided by 100 000 times 800 gives 2.6 persons in Port Alice having chlamydia.
3 people with give a rate of 375 per 100 000 while 2 would give a rate of 250 per 100 000 ( lower than Vancouver!). So all that the mayor of Port Alice needs to do to solve the problem is kick the 2 or 3 gigolos out of town.

I know, I understand they meant the region of Northern Vancouver Island! But I like picking these things apart when their use seems inappropriate.


#10

[quote=“Alpine Scrub”]

[quote=“Prudence”]I don’t feel it is up to the government to help control teen pregnancy. I would rather the government focus on other health issues.
All teenagers know that there is contraception galore out there. We are all aware of STDs, but some people continue to practise unsafe sex. Now how is that the government’s responsibility?? What exactly are they supposed to do?
Nothing can change a teen’s mind about having sex. They are not going to get in the heat of the moment and then think about the government program they were forced to go through and be like, "no wait, i can not have sex."
Get real.[/quote]

oh wait:

[quote]
they don’t have the same access to sexual-health information and services.[/quote]

read -> comprehend -> post.

being horny != having unprotected sex…

Cant you see how the parade of teen mothers pushing double-wide baby strollers from bc housing to zellers every goddamn day could possibly be a result of this lack of access to information and services?

gee whiz, could these same people who didnt get it drilled into their skulls it was a good idea to wear a condom or use birth control be the ones having a bunch of kids at age 16 and sponging off the government for the rest of their lives? and being such awesome role models for their offspring who will undoubtedly learn how to live and become responsible for their own fates?[/quote]

There is a world outside of Rupert, you need to get out more. Second, there ARE resources out there. Have you not seen planned parenthood posters??


#11

Family physicians always encourage birth control. Birth is free for First Nation people, they all know that. The resources are there already.


#12

Like I have said before, just because Prince Rupert has such a large percentage of first nation people, doesn’t mean they need to be singled out.
I grew up in Powell River, which had dozens of ‘white’ teenage mothers. Powell River also has a reserve with a few single mothers.
Whenever a topic arises it seems native people get drug into the spotlight and the initial intention of the post diminishes. We are all humans.


#13

approach it like you would a project in the 1950s.
ie flouridation, adding iodine to salt, Vitamin A&D to milk

“put marvelon into slurpees”


#14

[quote=“Alpine Scrub”]^ ^
fuck you’re a fruit cakle…


corrupt file:
so you’re saying the situation is helpless?? or what. you suggest we allow these people to keep doing what they’re doing?

Or should we try to take more steps to encourage these people to fornicate responsibly, helping them sidestep the “oops, giant financial burden that i am not able to deal with” type mistakes that eventually get shovelled off onto government services.

I read once that a fetal alcohol baby in BC had like a net cost to the government of $750,000 by the time it was all said and done, above and beyond the cost of a normal kid…not even looking at the human costs of the situation - wouldnt spending $1,000,000 on a program to scare the shit out of moms so they werent drinking while pregnant make financial sense?

the article is trying to show how people in remote communities are getting shafted in terms of either dollars spent on solving it, or effectiveness in solving it (stupid people, band councils actively trying to scam the government :unamused: … whatever you want to write it off as).

So far we’ve had two posts that basically say “we’re doing all we can, we shouldnt have to spend more” … well wake up… we end up spending way more in the long term.[/quote]

You obviously havn’t lived in Prince Rupert long enough to seem to know what in blazes you are talking about.

Corrupt_File did not say or didn’t mean to intend that we should continue to allow teenagers to fornicate irresponsibly but the situation is out of the governments hands.

Fornicate responsibly ? That is of the persons choice I don’t beleive that someone like Paul Martin go up to the person and say “No…dont do it”. Because they have other plans, it is places like the local community and help centers that try and stop this type of activity. Like for example ‘SCOOL!!’ and even possibly ‘The Edge’.

Jane Wilde also takes out her time to teach teenagers and teeny boppers to practice safe sex so that they don’t make these mistakes, but what do those kids do ? They go out, do drugs, drink alot of alchohol and end up with what they get.

There was even a guy in along time ago possibly a year or two that came in, he was a paramedic and witnessed stupid activites and showed us the movie “REQUIEM FOR A DREAM”. Just like Jane Wildes attempts they were strucken down and people went out to drink, do drugs, and most of all have sex. Don’t mistake this is as “The Governments Fault” because there are people and places to inform teenagers of this type of stuff.

I’m out

PEACE!


#15

your missing the point.

im not saying that there is nothing being done in Prince Rupert to address these issues.

the article says that there is a disparity between the amounts of funds put into programs in the lower mainland, and the other parts of the province.

the article then says that there is a disparity in the occurrences of the shit the programs are designed to address.

the jackass kids down south ‘strike the efforts down’ just as much as the jackasses here. but obviously some are benefitting from the programs because the incidence levels are LOWER there.

All of your ideas that “oh somthings beign done, the bad kids just ignore it” is totally fucked, because the programs arent 100% ineffectual…no one is claiming that, but what the article does STATE PRETTY FUCKIGN CLEALY is that there is a disparity between funding of these programs between the lower mainland and here, and a CORRESPONDING disparity between the incidence levels the programs are meant to curtail.

of course the situation is ultimately out of the governments hands, but a lot of people arent getting the right information, in the right package, enough of the time, and when there is a demonstrated link between funding levels and incidence, it bears looking at further, not throwing your hands up in the air and thinking “bad kids will be bad kids”.


#16

It’s ultimately the choice of the party on how they’re going to protect themselves.

I’m fully aware of all the risks there are in having sex, all of the information I need is out there. How I go about doing it is my choice. Sometimes my decision wasn’t the choicest, but live and learn.

Some folks’ll throw all caution to the wind and get as much of the old in and out as they can. Chances are that nothing serious will happen to them, but at the same time anything could happen.

All in all, I’d say that nude sunbathing is a great way to spend your Saturday afternoon.


#17

I can only agree. Fornication with teen-age boys is irresponsible! Stick to clean, responsible older men. HEH HEH HEH… :smiling_imp:


#18

personally i think the teaching of safe sex etc etc just promotes/encourages teens to do it.

bowling for columbine comes to mind, specifically the usa and their “guns = safety” thing…i know, it’s an unlikely comparasion…


#19

do what? have safe sex?


#20

I agree.