2021 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Human Services
By: Representative Scott
AN ACT TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI COMPREHENSIVE TEEN PREGNANCY PREVENTION ACT; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO DEVELOP CERTAIN PROGRAMS AND STRATEGIES PROMOTING PREGNANCY PREVENTION AND PROVIDING INFORMATION ON THE CONSEQUENCES OF UNPROTECTED, UNINFORMED AND UNDERAGE SEXUAL ACTIVITY; TO AMEND SECTION 41-79-5, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY WITH THE PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. This act may be cited as the "Mississippi Comprehensive Teen Pregnancy Prevention Act."
SECTION 2. (1) The Legislature recognizes the following:
(a) Each year, nearly seven hundred fifty thousand (750,000) American teens ages fifteen (15) through nineteen (19) become pregnant;
(b) An estimated four thousand eight hundred eighty-three (4,883) youth and young adults ages thirteen (13) through twenty-four (24) were diagnosed with HIV or AIDS in 2004, representing approximately thirteen percent (13%) of all individuals given a diagnosis during that year; and
(c) Recent estimates suggest that while persons ages fifteen (15) through twenty-four (24) represent one-fourth (1/4) of the sexually active population, they acquire nearly one-half (1/2) of all new sexually transmitted infections.
(2) The Legislature believes that society itself must take the necessary measures to provide intervention to correct the problems with children and teens and reverse the failures caused by a lack of adequate health awareness, which leads to disproportionate rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The Legislature further believes that the development and implementation of a comprehensive plan that will educate our children and teens on the dire consequences of unprotected, uninformed and underage sexual activity must be provided to communities and families dealing with the pervasive issues and problems that are indicative of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
SECTION 3. The Mississippi Department of Human Services shall develop programs to accomplish the purpose of one or more of the following strategies:
(a) Promoting effective communication among families about preventing teen pregnancy, particularly communication among parents or guardians and their children;
(b) Educating community members about the consequences of unprotected, uninformed and underage sexual activity and teen pregnancy;
(c) Encouraging young people to postpone sexual activity and prepare for a healthy, successful adulthood, including teaching them skills to avoid making or receiving unwanted verbal, physical, and sexual advances;
(d) Providing medically accurate information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods as a means to prevent pregnancy and reduce the risk of contracting sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS; or
(e) Providing educational information, including medically accurate information about the health benefits and side effects of all contraceptives and barrier methods, for young people in those communities who are already sexually active or are at risk of becoming sexually active and inform young people in those communities about the responsibilities and consequences of being a parent, and how early pregnancy and parenthood can interfere with educational and other goals.
SECTION 4. (1) The State Department of Health shall develop programs with the following strategies:
(a) To carry out activities, including counseling, to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, among teens;
(b) To provide necessary social and cultural support services regarding teen pregnancy;
(c) To provide health and educational services related to the prevention of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, among teens;
(d) To promote better health and educational outcomes among pregnant teens; and
(e) To provide training for individuals who plan to work in school-based support programs regarding the prevention of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, among teens.
(2) It shall be the responsibility of school nurses employed by local school districts implementing the programs developed by the State Department of Health under subsection (1) of this section to carry out the functions of those strategies to promote consistency in the administration of the program.
SECTION 5. Section 41-79-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
41-79-5. (1) There is * * *
established within the State Department
of Health a school nurse intervention program, available to all public school
districts in the state.
(2) By the school year 1998-1999, each public school district shall have employed a school nurse, to be known as a Health Service Coordinator, pursuant to the school nurse intervention program prescribed under this section. The school nurse intervention program shall offer any of the following specific preventive services, and other additional services appropriate to each grade level and the age and maturity of the pupils:
(a) Reproductive health education and referral to prevent teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, which education shall include abstinence;
(b) Child abuse and neglect identification;
(c) Hearing and vision screening to detect problems which can lead to serious sensory losses and behavioral and academic problems;
(d) Alcohol, tobacco and drug abuse education to reduce abuse of these substances;
(e) Scoliosis screening to detect this condition so that costly and painful surgery and lifelong disability can be prevented;
(f) Coordination of services for handicapped children to ensure that these children receive appropriate medical assistance and are able to remain in public school;
(g) Nutrition education and counseling to prevent obesity and/or other eating disorders which may lead to life-threatening conditions, for example, hypertension;
(h) Early detection and treatment of head lice to prevent the spread of the parasite and to reduce absenteeism;
(i) Emergency treatment of injury and illness to include controlling bleeding, managing fractures, bruises or contusions and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);
(j) Applying appropriate theory as the basis for decision making in nursing practice;
(k) Establishing and maintaining a comprehensive school health program;
(l) Developing individualized health plans;
(m) Assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating programs and other school health activities, in collaboration with other professionals;
(n) Providing health education to assist students, families and groups to achieve optimal levels of wellness;
(o) Participating in peer review and other means of evaluation to assure quality of nursing care provided for students and assuming responsibility for continuing education and professional development for self while contributing to the professional growth of others;
(p) Participating with
other key members of the community responsible for assessing, planning,
implementing and evaluating school health services and community services that
include the broad continuum or promotion of primary, secondary and tertiary
prevention; * * *
(q) Contributing to nursing and school health through innovations in theory and practice and participation in research; and
(r) Carrying out the functions of the strategies in the programs developed by the State Department of Health under Section 4 of this act.
(3) Public school nurses shall be specifically prohibited from providing abortion counseling to any student or referring any student to abortion counseling or abortion clinics. Any violation of this subsection shall disqualify the school district employing such public school nurse from receiving any state administered funds under this section.
(5) Beginning with the 1997-1998 school year, to the extent that federal or state funds are available therefor and pursuant to appropriation therefor by the Legislature, in addition to the school nurse intervention program funds administered under subsection (4), the State Department of Health shall establish and implement a Prevention of Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program to be located in the public school districts with the highest numbers of teen pregnancies. The Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program shall provide the following education services directly through public school nurses in the pilot school districts: health education sessions in local schools, where contracted for or invited to provide, which target issues including reproductive health, teen pregnancy prevention and sexually transmitted diseases, including syphilis, HIV and AIDS. When these services are provided by a school nurse, training and counseling on abstinence shall be included.
(6) In addition to the school nurse intervention program funds administered under subsection (4) and the Teen Pregnancy Pilot Program funds administered under subsection (5), to the extent that federal or state funds are available therefor and pursuant to appropriation therefor by the Legislature, the State Department of Health shall establish and implement an Abstinence Education Pilot Program to provide abstinence education, mentoring, counseling and adult supervision to promote abstinence from sexual activity, with a focus on those groups which are most likely to bear children out of wedlock. Such abstinence education services shall be provided by the State Department of Health through its clinics, public health nurses, school nurses and through contracts with rural and community health centers in order to reach a larger number of targeted clients. For purposes of this subsection, the term "abstinence education" means an educational or motivational program which:
(a) Has as its exclusive purpose, teaching the social, psychological and health gains to be realized by abstaining from sexual activity;
(b) Teaches abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage as the expected standard for all school-age children;
(c) Teaches that abstinence from sexual activity is the only certain way to avoid out-of-wedlock pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other associated health problems;
(d) Teaches that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity;
(e) Teaches that sexual activity outside of the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects;
(f) Teaches that bearing children out of wedlock is likely to have harmful consequences for the child, the child's parents and society;
(g) Teaches young people how to reject sexual advances and how alcohol and drug use increase vulnerability to sexual advances; and
(h) Teaches the importance of attaining self-sufficiency before engaging in sexual activity.
(7) Beginning with the 1998-1999 school year and pursuant to appropriation therefor by the Legislature, in addition to other funds allotted under the minimum education program, each school district shall be allotted an additional teacher unit per every one hundred (100) teacher units, for the purpose of employing qualified public school nurses in such school district, which in no event shall be less than one (1) teacher unit per school district, for such purpose. In the event the Legislature provides less funds than the total state funds needed for the public school nurse allotment, those school districts with fewer teacher units shall be the first funded for such purpose, to the extent of funds available.
(8) Prior to the 1998-1999 school year, nursing staff assigned to the program shall be employed through the local county health department and shall be subject to the supervision of the State Department of Health with input from local school officials. Local county health departments may contract with any comprehensive private primary health care facilities within their county to employ and utilize additional nursing staff. Beginning with the 1998-1999 school year, nursing staff assigned to the program shall be employed by the local school district and shall be designated as "health service coordinators," and shall be required to possess a bachelor's degree in nursing as a minimum qualification.
(9) Upon each student's enrollment, the parent or guardian shall be provided with information regarding the scope of the school nurse intervention program. The parent or guardian may provide the school administration with a written statement refusing all or any part of the nursing service. No child shall be required to undergo hearing and vision or scoliosis screening or any other physical examination or tests whose parent objects thereto on the grounds such screening, physical examination or tests are contrary to his sincerely held religious beliefs.
(10) A consent form for reproductive health education shall be sent to the parent or guardian of each student upon his enrollment. If a response from the parent or guardian is not received within seven (7) days after the consent form is sent, the school shall send a letter to the student's home notifying the parent or guardian of the consent form. If the parent or guardian fails to respond to the letter within ten (10) days after it is sent, then the school principal shall be authorized to allow the student to receive reproductive health education. Reproductive health education shall include the teaching of total abstinence from premarital sex and, wherever practicable, reproductive health education should be taught in classes divided according to gender. All materials used in the reproductive health education program shall be placed in a convenient and easily accessible location for parental inspection. School nurses shall not dispense birth control pills or contraceptive devices in the school. Dispensing of such shall be the responsibility of the State Department of Health on a referral basis only.
(11) No provision of this section shall be construed as prohibiting local school districts from accepting financial assistance of any type from the State of Mississippi or any other governmental entity, or any contribution, donation, gift, decree or bequest from any source which may be utilized for the maintenance or implementation of a school nurse intervention program in a public school system of this state.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2021.