Living Well: Supplemental sex-ed class for high schoolers starts Jan. 17
As a family doctor in Craig and part of the sexual health teaching team in the local schools, I know what kinds of questions kids have about sex. Recently, after completing the weeklong sex-ed unit in ninth grade, students shared that they were helped by information on understanding consent and dating ideas, learned to make healthy life decisions, and were taught reasons to wait for sex. They also stated they learned facts they didn’t know about sexually transmitted diseases and preventing pregnancy.
But they still need more information. To help answer their questions and practice boundary-setting skills, we’re offering a free, after-school sexual education class for ninth- through 12th-graders. Called “Reducing the Risk,” the class is optional and begins in January.
Made possible by a grant from the Buell Foundation, Reducing the Risk has been proven to reduce risky sexual behavior by teaching adolescents about reproductive anatomy, risky behaviors and consequences, abstinence, and the use of condoms and birth control to prevent HIV, sexually transmitted infections, and pregnancy.
I am part of the Building Healthy You committee that applied for the grant and selected the Reducing the Risk curriculum. Building Healthy You is made up of a number of health advocates in the community, including representatives from Memorial Regional Health, Northwest Colorado Health, Yampa Valley Family and Pregnancy Center, Moffat School District, and others. Though the pregnancy rate has fallen during the past few years, Moffat County continues to have one of the highest teen birth rates in the state — nearly twice the state average. So, it was important to us that the program we chose be scientifically strong, as well as focused on abstinence and attentive to kids’ most pressing questions and emotional needs.
Reducing the Risk has data behind it. Compared to other sexual-health curriculums, it’s been found in studies to be more likely to delay sexual initiation, result in fewer sexual partners, and foster greater use of birth control among participants who chose to be sexually active. What’s more, Reducing the Risk students were more apt to talk to their parents about birth control and STD prevention, be more knowledgeable about sexual health, and have positive attitudes about sexual protection. We also like the fact that the class helps young people work on refusal skills, which is one of the most important things we can teach them.
Reducing the Risk will be held in the high school library from 3:45 to 4:45 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays beginning Jan. 17, and the class continues for 16 weeks. Noreen Beckett, RN, will lead the program. A nurse since 2001, she recently moved back to Craig after living for a number of years in Alaska, where she worked with teens and sexual-assault victims in a child advocacy center.
Two parent preview sessions will be offered in the high school library from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan.7, and Wednesday, Jan. 9. Parents are welcome to drop in, see the teaching materials, and chat with Beckett about the curriculum.
Students will sign up for the program via a school permission slip that will be sent home with them in January. If you have questions, please call Beckett at 970-826-8349.
Thank you for joining us in helping keep our community’s youth healthy and safe and working to further reduce the teen birth rate. Working with teenagers is a profound and rewarding experience. They deserve our best efforts to educate and help them.
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