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Liz Conmy, Fargo, Published January 05 2013

Letter: ND turns down sex ed dollars

North Dakota officials (they must have a name?) turn down federal money available through the Affordable Care Act for sex education for our state’s teenagers. Two professors at North Dakota State University, recognizing the need for this type of education, apply for a grant and receive $1.2 million in federal money to implement a sex education program over the next three years. They expect to reach 380 Fargo students – averaging out to more than $3,000 per student. (Granted, they will also get research material in the process.)

In the past few years, the national birth rate among teens ages 14-19 has decreased by 17 percent in all but three states, one being North Dakota. We have about 29 births for every 1,000 girls. Statistics for the children of teen mothers are not encouraging. Children of teens experience a higher rate of poverty, abuse and health issues. We have a problem.

I’m not sure what state officials were trying to accomplish by turning down funding for a statewide program to improve decision-making and knowledge for our teens – a program we obviously need.

What they did accomplish was to make sure that only 380 students in Fargo will learn “adulthood preparation skills like healthy relationships, setting goals, adolescent development and making the right decisions.”

Using federal money. Money that had been available for the entire state. Money that 45 other states accepted and used for programs for their teens.

Perhaps our state officials have another plan. Ask them.

If not, it’s too bad for the rest of North Dakota’s 50,000 teens.