A new website published by the Central District Health Department (CDH) – a public health entity serving the Treasure Valley – to educate teens on sex and methods of contraception is missing something that Internet pages for other reproductive health clinics aren’t.
The site, dubbed Reveal4Real.org, is lacking any references to the most effective form of birth control – abstinence – on its page dedicated to contraception. The page lists several other methods teens can use, however, including condoms, sponges, pills, rings, and even full-on sterilization. The web page, launched in late-December, promises to “reveal what’s real about sex, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy.”
Dave Fotsch, public information officer for CDH, says the point of the website isn’t to prevent teens from having sex, but rather to help them make wise choices when they choose to become sexually active. “This website is for teens who are contemplating becoming sexually active or are already having sex,” said Fotsch.
The target for the site instead is to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) through “good information” about contraception and sex. “They [teens] probably don’t want to talk to their parents about it,” said Fotsch, “and parents probably aren’t comfortable talking with their kids about it.”
Though abstinence is not expressly listed as a sure-fire form of contraception, Fotsch points out that it is noted under the section about STDs on the website. “We certainly don’t dismiss abstinence,” he explained. “When people come into our clinic, abstinence is always discussed.” Abstinence is given quick mentions at the bottom of the pages for each different type of STD and how to prevent infections.
Other websites dedicated to safe-sex and anti-pregnancy practices typically include references to abstinence and one website published by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare describes not having sex as “the only sure fire way” to prevent unwanted pregnancies. The site, found at Safesex.idaho.gov, says that to avoid pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases, avoiding sex altogether is the premier manner to achieve those objectives.
Planned Parenthood, one of the top family planning clinics in the United States, also includes abstinence on its long list of contraceptive methods. Of the 19 methods listed by the organization on its website, abstinence is described as “one of the safest ways to prevent pregnancy.” Planned Parenthood’s section explaining abstinence even boasts a special box for teens on why postponing sex might be the right thing to do for better health in the long run.