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None May 14th, 2013

In the case of the middle-schoolers the article discusses, fathers in births to girls age 15 and younger are far more likely to be over age 21 than under age 16.

Oklahoma Gazette provides an open forum for the discussion of all points of view in its Letters to the Editor section. The Gazette reserves the right to edit letters for length and clarity. Letters can be mailed, faxed, emailed to pbacharach@ okgazette.com or sent online at okgazette.com, but include a city of residence and contact number for verification.

The reality behind ‘teen pregnancy’ That even today, “teen pregnancy” continues to be misrepresented as just the result of teenage ignorance and carelessness (Life, Rachel Curtis, “Sensible sex ed,” April 24, Oklahoma Gazette) is more proof of the need to abandon this sexist misnomer. The large majority of male partners are adult men.

In the case of the middle-schoolers the article discusses, fathers in births to girls age 15 and younger are far more likely to be over age 21 than under age 16. Several studies have found girls who had sex at 15 or younger were very likely to have been raped, usually by a substantially older man, and that school-age mothers are much more likely to be poor and to have been sexually victimized in childhood.

Of course, those are good reasons to support factual sex education so that young people can have access to information and resources to protect themselves.

But depicting sex ed as the key strategy to prevent “teen pregnancy” obscures far more important factors we should be paying more attention to: adult sexual behaviors, domestic violence against children and youth, poverty rates and access to higher education.

The best long-term economic studies show that for poorer populations, having babies at younger ages makes economic sense (parents are freed to work by their early 30s, when earning potential is highest) and maximizes the use of extended families to raise children.

Two counties have strikingly low rates of births by teens and young adults of every race: Cleveland and Payne. Take a moment to ponder what feature of those two counties might explain that fact.

Over the last 20 years, pregnancy, birth and marriage rates among younger women have plummeted to record lows. These trends correspond to rapid increases in enrollments of young women, particularly minorities, in colleges, universities and vocational schools, despite relentless efforts to make higher education as costly as possible.

Endlessly debating sex-vs.-abstinence programs, blaming popular culture and depicting teenagers as stupid may satisfy many adult interests, but it’s time to move on to tougher realities. Abolishing the deceptive term “teen pregnancy” would be a good start.

—Mike Males Oklahoma City

The last laugh I read David Hull’s tirade on President Obama’s economic record (Letters, “Demonizing rich people, May 1, Gazette) on Friday, May 3. That was the day it was announced that we had added 165,000 jobs in April, and the February and March numbers were revised upward by 114,000 jobs, bringing unemployment down to 7.5 percent. It was also the day the Dow and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs.

Suffice it say that I had a good laugh over that one.

—Jon Parker Oklahoma City

Still stealing land The myth surrounding the construction of the KXL Pipeline is that it will further fuel us in Oklahoma by providing energy independence and jobs.

However, this expansion project symbolizes that we are at a standstill, stuck in our habits and ways.

Regarding jobs, it is debatable whether the KXL Pipeline will create any lasting jobs. Cornell University has reported that it could destroy more jobs than it creates in the long-term. Regarding energy independence, this pipeline serves to export oil. We will not become any more energy-independent through this project.

The only thing the Keystone XL offers Oklahoma is the continued practice of abusing Oklahoma land, small farmers, workers and indigenous peoples in support of big business.

When we talk about past actions that shame our nation — for instance, violently taking and abusing indigenous people’s lands to construct our comforts — someone might say, “But that’s in the past. We need to move forward.”

When we reflect on our history, we ask, “What about the under-represented peoples that were here before us?” They are not mentioned because they were not considered. It was cruel on the part of those with power; it was naïve on the part of the majority.

The majority accepted comfort without acknowledging the discomfort it caused others and the earth. Today, the majority is carrying on the tradition of failing to consider where our comforts come from. We are ignoring the impact of the Keystone XL on small farmers, indigenous peoples, the land and our futures.

We cannot change the past; however, we can change the present and impact the future. By embarking on projects like the Keystone XL on land made available through genocide, forced relocations, broken treaties and cultural assimilation, we are continuing the practice of disregarding and disrespecting indigenous people’s

voices and presence.

—M.B. Stephenson Oklahoma City

 
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