Ross Olson's Web Site


School Based Clinics
An address to the Hopkins Minnesota School Board
August 21, 2008
Ross S. Olson MD

I am Ross Olson, a retired pediatrician with over 30 years of medical experience and long involvement in the issue of adolescent sexuality.

I am very concerned about the long term effects of the things we are telling our youth and the actions that they take. When I was growing up, there were kids who were making bad choices, but almost everybody knew that the choices were bad and society helped to keep kids in line. Fear of exposure, knowledge of parental disapproval, religious faith and general societal agreement on right and wrong helped prevent many adolescents from messing up their lives.

I do remember the 1960s, when many said, “Why do we have all these rules? Why can’t we do what we feel like?” I could very easily fallen into destructive behavior but was protected by the factors listed above. Over the following decades as a physician, I have seen the fallout from that change in society. We have multi-generational fatherless homes and rampant male irresponsibility, leading to increased academic failure, violence and crime in the kids.

Adolescents are bright, imaginative and idealistic, but they do not think long-term consequences. They cannot make life-altering decisions without strong guidance. Parents are in the best position to understand their own children and have the strongest bond, not to mention a lifetime commitment. This does not mean that they always do the correct thing, but I have seen a disturbing tendency among health professionals who deal with teens: They really believe that they know more about and care more for the teen than the parents, almost assuming that every family is dysfunctional.

And in some cases those professionals have a radically different goal than the parents. I dealt with many single parent families – mostly single mothers – in my practice. I do not think any of them wanted their children to follow in their footsteps, just as a parent who smokes is very unlikely to encourage his or her children to smoke. Within the community of comprehensive sex educators and school based clinic staff, there is a strong tendency to believe that complete sexual freedom will liberate teens from guilt and that by becoming comfortable with the technology of condoms, the epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies will be ended.

Many of these social engineers will disguise their agenda and, for instance, claim that the purpose of their school based clinic is comprehensive healthcare. In the case of West Suburban Teen Clinic, they have not made a secret of their focus on sexually related issues. They claim to promote sexual abstinence but only make passing reference to it and convey the idea that it is probably not attainable and that sexuality can be safe and healthy with the proper technology.

First of all, condoms, even when used correctly every time, are not as safe as they are portrayed. They do not significantly reduce herpes (which can threaten future babies with brain damage or death) or Chlamydia (which can lead to life-threatening ectopic pregnancy or infertility.) And although condoms reduce the risk of HIV, any unnecessary risk of a deadly disease is tragic. Pregnancy also occurs at least 15% per year among teens using condoms correctly.

A study of the use of birth control by teens (DiCemente, Pediatrics February 1992) found that teens used of condoms 49.6% with the first partner. With the third through fifth partners it was down to 27.4%. Why would that be, since they now know where to get them and how to use them? As adults we understand the trauma of unfaithfulness. Can you imagine what it is like for young adolescents? The emotional toll is horrendous, self esteem plummets and many girls want a baby, since the guys don’t stick around. To call simple disease and pregnancy prevention a success story amounts to treating our young people like animals.

When school based clinics report reduced births, it is generally because of increased abortions, even though they hide the fact that they are referring girls to abortion providing facilities by claiming that they are only giving “objective” advice on legal options and that they do not perform abortions. Referral is often done without the parent’s consent or knowledge.

The claim that parents may opt out of the clinic is a hollow a deceptive ruse, because first of all, very few parents actually return the opt-out forms even if they wish to. In addition, Minnesota law allows teens to confidentially consult a medical provider for issues regarding sexuality, drugs or abortion without the parents being notified, regardless of any signatures on a paper.

When there is a problem, we need to make sure that the solution is not worse. Condom education has been going on for decades and during that time, the rates of pregnancies and diseases have constantly risen. Abortion does not solve a problem as much as it substitutes a wide range of life long psychological issues including depression, anxiety, chemical use and post-traumatic stress disorder.

If we can pull out all the stops in telling teens not to smoke, even though we know that some will not follow that advice, why can we not push hard for the best of all possible solutions for sexuality, waiting for that one partner with whom the teen will faithfully share his or her life? The pro-condom people try to discredit abstinence and character education programs or claim that their programs are doing the same thing plus more. But the facts remain that abstinence education works. Examples of curricula are,,,, and one of many motivational speakers is

We have high standards for athletic and academic performance and should not look on teens as livestock who cannot control themselves. We need to critically examine the worldview of professionals who deal with teens and we should never cut parents out of the loop.

Send comments to me at ross{at}

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