Sexual abstinence figures uncertain at Clovis schools

By Michelle Seeber

High pregnancy rate suggests condom use is low, nurse says.

Junior high student Shawn Manning knows a teenage boy who got his girlfriend pregnant when he was 16. The boy and his girlfriend decided to have the baby, get married and drop out of high school.
Manning wants no part of that lifestyle.
He “… wasn’t doing what he was supposed to and his girlfriend ended up getting pregnant,” Manning said.
The 13-year-old Yucca Junior High School student says he wants to remain abstinent until marriage. He’s one of many male teenagers nationwide who are not having sex.
More than half of all male high school students in 2001 reported they’re virgins, up from 39 percent in 1990, according to a recent report in The New York Times.
But according to a nurse at Clovis High School, only about 10 percent of the students there practice abstinence, and between 60 and 70 teenage girls get pregnant each year.
“We’d be doing good if we had 10 percent,” CHS nurse Linda Jacquez said Tuesday. “I wish the number was higher.”
About 1,400 students attend Clovis High School.
Assistant Superintendent LaDona Clayton said she didn’t agree with Jacquez’s 10-percent figure.
“We don’t have specific data,” Clayton said, noting that no surveys have been conducted to determine what the percentage is.
“We consider that very private,” she said. “We don’t ask students questions about their privacy. The Board of Education has given good reasons for protecting students’ private lives. Parents certainly expect us to protect their children from intrusive types of surveys that aren’t related to their instruction. That’s been the consensus of the board for the past two consecutive years.”
According to the New Mexico Vital Records and Health Statistics, in 2001 — the most recent year for which statistics are available — 70.9 percent of births to girls ages 15 to 19 in Curry County were to single mothers.
Also, 38 percent of the mothers who give birth in Curry County are 15 to 19 years old.
In addition, in 2001, 21.1 percent of New Mexico resident women obtaining abortions were 15 to 19 years old, the statistics showed.
There were no statistics specifically for Curry County regarding abortion.
Jacquez said she attributed the abstinence issue in Clovis High School to the culture of the area.
“We live in a culture where men go out and sow their wild oats,” she said. “Use of condoms is pretty low, and if they do use them, I don’t think they know how.
“A lot of the girls at Clovis High School who got pregnant, said they did so intentionally, because they wanted to have a baby with a certain guy,” Jacquez said.
“Also, it’s a lack of love at home,” she said. “They think if they have a baby they will have someone to love them at home.”
In these situations, the majority of the time, the girls go on welfare and Medicaid and don’t get married, Jacquez said.
“About 50 percent of the guys who get them pregnant don’t take responsibility for the babies,” she said.
Kimberly Anderson, a 17-year-old junior at Clovis High School, said she practices abstinence and she disagrees with Jacquez’s 10-percent assessment.
“I don’t agree with that,” Anderson said. “I think (abstinence) is way above that.”
She said she didn’t really have any reasons why she practiced abstinence, but she knew students who didn’t.
“It’s their life,” she said. “They can do whatever they want. Some are responsible, some aren’t. Besides, I don’t think the school can do anything. I think kids are going to do whatever they want, no matter what.”
Kassi Shelko, a 15-year-old sophomore at Clovis High School, said she was of the same opinion. She also practices abstinence.
“I don’t want to end up in a situation I don’t want to be in,” she said as to the reason why. “Having a kid throws your whole life off track. You don’t get to live, go to college, things like that.”
A student from Yucca Junior High said he thought the 10-percent figure “was probably true.”
“Here, sex is always the first thing that comes to mind,” said 14-year-old Tim Stewart, who plans to remain abstinent until marriage. “I think about 20 percent to 40 percent are abstinent at the junior high.”
Jacquez said students learn about sexual education in several classes at Clovis High School — biology, physical education, health and consumer sciences.
“We start teaching that in the elementary schools,” she said. “But by the time students reach high school, they’ve decided whether they will (practice abstinence) or not.”