We know that ongoing, comprehensive sexuality education about growth and development, sex, love, relationships and values is key in helping kids make healthy choices and reducing behaviors that put teens at risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection.
In the wake of the recent federal and state budget cuts, our outreach budget for comprehensive sexuality education programs just sustained a 47% cut. After careful evaluation of our clinc and outreach programs, we are being forced to eliminate puberty education in the elementary schools. The middle school programs will be shortened. Parent programs and other community education programs will be cut. Our teen clinic hours will be reduced by 33%. Programs in grades 9 through 12 will remain intact.
This is tragic.
We have one of the very lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country. We know what works. We have implemented evidence based practices and have been seeing consistent results for years. Prior to the cuts, we were in the process of developing a program to address the common themes we are seeing in the teens who are becoming pregnant. If we had the ability to continue our work, it has the potential to serve as a model for the country to further reduce unintended pregnancy in teens and young adults across the country. That work is now on hold.
Although classroom teachers may take over teaching the puberty and sexuality education classes in the elementary and middle schools, the outcomes will surely not be the same as having specially trained sexuality educators teaching the subject matter.
When rumors of impending cuts began, I could see the handwriting on the wall. I've always wanted to develop a program to support healthy communication between parents and kids around sexuality, as I often get calls from parents asking for support and resources. Apparently, the time had come for me to do just that!
Let's face it ... having the sex talk with kids is not always easy for parents. However the research has become more and more clear that parents have the most influence over their kids about sexual decision making. Teens wish their parents were more open with them and parents are always calling me to support them in talking with their kids.
I tend to like change and often find myself seeing life's challenges as a place where opportunity lies. So as the legislature was slashing the Maternal and Child Health budget, I found myself developing a program called The Sex Talk Series for Parents that provides resources that will help them have better conversations with their kids about growth, development and sexuality.
At the same time, it is my hope that perhaps the program will fill in a gap created by budget cuts and maybe even produce some support to continue on with the next step in preventing teen pregnancy!
And if I do say so myself, I think my new program, The Sex Talk Series for Parents and the accompanying resource guide is quite good ... while being reasonably priced! Check it out ... subscribe ... pass it on ... twitter it ... facebook it .... email the link to whomever you think might benefit.
And, of course, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the program or about how I can help you reduce teen pregnancy in your community.
For my next project, with my newly found spare time, I'll be working on a sexualtiy education teacher training module and an online coaching program for teens! More on that later ... for now, I'm heading out on the lake to hang out with the loons. It is a spectacular day to live in the lakes region of NH!
Transition on Purpose