Recently the CDC released the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (YRBS). Like any other time data is released with a state-to-nation comparison, I put on my rose-colored cynical glasses and took a peek.
To no surprise, South Carolina continues to compare poorly to the U.S. average.
Our students are less likely to wear a bicycle helmet, more likely to carry a weapon and less likely to have eaten a fruit or vegetable in the last seven days. In addition, South Carolina students were more likely to have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse and less likely to have ever been taught in school about HIV or AIDS.
Let’s get down to the nitty-gritty:Nearly half of high school students (47.5%) in South Carolina have ever had sexual intercourse. About one in three (32%) of those students have had sex in the past three months (classifying them as “sexually active”). Among these sexually active students, 41% did not use a condom at last sexual intercourse. In addition, one in five students (21%) have never been taught in school about HIV or AIDS.
To sum it up: We’re sending our students into their hormone-filled years with no knowledge of disease prevention or the importance of correct and consistent use of condoms. As a 95-year-old stuck in a 20-something’s body, I’m quick to turn a coffee date into a sexual education class when I find out a friend is seeing someone new. Even though I look at the YRBS data every year and am well-versed with the statistics that show how little South Carolina students know, I am always shocked when the situation arises and my 20-something friends don’t understand the importance of protection.
How can we expect prevention to be put into practice if no one knows how to go about doing it – or why they should?! I think what’s most disturbing about this year’s YRBS data is that one in ten students (10%) in South Carolina have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse. This is higher than the national average. I can’t speak to what’s driving that statistic or even how to address it, but I will say seeing that statistic makes me sick to my stomach.
The results of the YRBS survey don’t give us the background story on who the perpetrator is or how the student got in the situation, but it does tell us is that something must be done. We need to continue to advocate for comprehensive sexual education for all South Carolina students – not only do I believe to my core that this is important, the data above proves this is necessary.
We need to continue to invest in local organization who are “fighting the good fight” (TellThem!, The South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and Sexual Trauma Services of the Midlands – just to name a few).
Overall, we need to continue to model healthy relationships and behaviors, be supportive and encouraging to the young people in our lives and stay involved with the issues we believe in!
Jordan is a full-time Evaluator and self-proclaimed Data Diva in the field of education. When she’s not number crunching, Jordan can be found coffee-in-hand on Drip’s patio, running/visiting her comrades at the YMCA or hiding out in her craft room sewing or making jewelry. She’s also recently ventured into the blogosphere – you can read all about her life’s saga at reslicedbyjordan.com.