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14-Year Old Girl Faces Life In Prison for Killing Her Baby: Is She a Victim Of Florida's Insane Abstinence Education?

For killing her newborn baby, 14-year-old Cassidy Goodson will face trial as an adult for first-degree murder and aggravated child abuse.

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According to SIECUS, the report was compiled “in an effort to inform all of Florida’s citizens about the colossal failure of these programs and the ongoing waste of their money.”

According to this study, approximately half of the States in the country opted out of Title V funding from the federal government. An overwhelming majority, 80% of those states, cites research that belies the success of such curricula in favor of comprehensive sex-ed. Indeed, “a congressionally mandated study conducted over nine years at a cost of almost $8 million concluded that these programs are not effective in stopping or even delaying teen sex and have no beneficial impact on young people’s sexual behavior,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. 

Polk County, where Cassidy attended high school, teaches community-based abstinence-only-until-marriage curricula in its schools. Nurse Jamie Kress facilitates Polk County’s Prevention Program that brings registered nurses to schools to cover a  variety of subjects that might fall under the category of sex-ed.

According to Kress, contraception is only addressed within the context of marriage, and instead, the program promotes abstinence from all sexual contact as STD and teen pregnancy prevention. A student thinking about having sex, or who is already sexually active, would not be advised to use condoms or other forms of birth control. 

If a student were already under the impression that she has committed the one act that runs contrary to the basis of everything she’s been taught in school, I would argue that she would be less willing to approach adults at school with concerns that she is pregnant. Although little has been said about Cassidy’s character, or her home life, the facts of the case demonstrate that she was in dire need of support outside of her family regarding her pregnancy. 

According to Sheriff Grady Judd, Cassidy’s mother was “in denial,” ignoring family members who said that Cassidy might be pregnant and the bulge likely visible on Cassidy’s 100 pound, 5’3” frame. This is all the more reason that Cassidy needed an external support system, the very type of structure that sex-education programs ideally provide.

Families are imperfect and often adults are ill equipped to disseminate crucial information regarding reproductive and sex-based choices to children; that’s why public school sex-education exists. 

At 14, Cassidy is not old enough under the eyes of the law to drive a car, or to have sex at all according to Florida’s  age of consent; why in this case, do authorities expect her to know the proper course of action for dealing with an unwanted pregnancy without guidance? Perhaps it is more frightening to face the failure of an entire infrastructure than it is to punish one child, and label her a kink in an otherwise functional system. 

Reports say that Cassidy’s mother gave her pregnancy tests in order to dispel rumors that she was pregnant, rather than telling her daughter that if she was pregnant everything would be okay. This sends the message that public perception is more important than her health and might have encouraged her to take measures to erase the pregnancy into her own hands.

Cassidy used a pair of scissors to pry the baby out of her body, risking her own safety in the process of trying to cover up the pregnancy. This speaks not just to her desperation, but also to the fact that the education she received indicated that her well being mattered less than avoiding a public confrontation about the pregnancy. The safety of two children was threatened; one albeit more catastrophically, but the charges Cassidy faces excuse the system that failed her entirely.