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Want to lower STD & teen pregnancy rates?

Posted by Ryan Morgan on November 14, 2013 at 2:08 PM
GeorginaBy: Georgina Dukes On October 29, 2013, I had the opportunity as a Tell Them Ambassador to sit in on the Charleston County Health Advisory Committee meeting for the approval of Making Proud Choices! The committee was composed of two students and seven professionals that are involved with students via education, advocacy, and health.  Making Proud Choices! is a reproductive health and sex education curriculum for ages 11-13 which are middle school aged students. The discussion was tense from the start! People from the community were allotted two minutes to express why they supported or chose not to support Making Proud Choices! The first two community advocates expressed their views on why NOT to support the curriculum. The major emphasis of their argument was that it is illegal for this age group to consent to sex so it serves no purpose to teach them reproductive health and sex education. (In my head I’m thinking that their arguments don’t make any sense, but I digress.)  I spoke last and stated my findings from research that over 50% of students stated that they felt peer pressure to begin sexual activity between the ages of 11-14 and over 65% believed they had a full understanding of what sex was between ages 11-14. Each member was able to voice his/her opinion on the curriculum. One of the students said that she didn’t care what statistics were available; she just didn’t believe Making Proud Choices! should be taught to middle school aged youth. This really took me aback for a second because this was a student speaking for her peers. Her beliefs are not based on fact, it was just her sincerely expressing the way she felt and what was enforced in her home. Not all students are going to be brought up in the same home environment. If we leave it up to parents to educate their children there will hundreds of different curriculums and maybe 5% will be accurate and factual information. We as people need to separate our beliefs from facts. Facts are that youth ages 15-24 account for almost half of new STI cases in South Carolina; that 3 out of 10 young women in South Carolina will becomes pregnant by age 20; and that Florence Critteron in Charleston, SC has 12 year olds pregnant by 12 year olds right now! Whether they were old enough to legally consent to sex or not, they did it! It was moved that abstinence be at the fore front of teaching sex ed and that the appendices be taken out to compromise with those that are completely against Making Proud Choices!, but people still do not want reproductive health and sex education taught. As a student who became pregnant as a teenager, it seriously bothers me that people don’t want to change, that people want teenagers to continue to struggle like I did, and that people still want everything to remain the same and ignore facts because of how they “feel” or what they “believe.” Put your feelings, beliefs, and personal values aside because they are irrelevant in helping to decrease STDS, teenage pregnancy, and sexual activity! A change needs to be done and it’s not going to happen in the home.  We need change in education and we need it NOW! Georgina Dukes is a Tell Them Ambassador living in Charleston, South Carolina. She recently relocated with her 2-year-old son to Charleston from Clemson University to pursue her Masters in Health Administration. Georgina has a passion for advocating for teenage pregnancy prevention and sexual health issues. 

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