March 29, 2013
Students at Dwight Morrow High School in Englewood, N.J., are participating in a peer education program to teach their peers how to make smart choices concerning their sexual health. The school instituted the program, called Teen Prevention Education Program (Teen PEP), after The Zone, a youth service program run at the school by the Bergen Family Center, held a teen leadership conference. Tenafly High School brought the Teen PEP program to this conference and it was a huge hit with the youth. After that, Dwight Morrow staff decided to bring TEEN PEP to its school.
Teen PEP is a five-days-a week, four-credit elective course that helps students learn about pregnancy prevention, birth control, and STDs as well as how to educate one's peers. The participants, mostly juniors, hold regular workshops with freshmen, performing skits of different scenarios students may encounter during their high school years and the best ways to handle the situations. Before participating in workshops, Teen PEP members take a three-day retreat to learn the material they will teach the freshmen and to bond with each other. Program participants have found that freshmen are more willing to discuss issues and ask questions about sexual health with peers rather than adults.
After the skits, each junior spends one-on-one time with a small group of freshmen to review topics covered in the skits and address questions. Teen PEP helped the freshmen learn about sexual health while helping the juniors develop leadership and public speaking skills.