Delaware: Talking Sex With Teens
July 16, 2009
Several programs are available to help mitigate the impact of early sexual activity in Delaware, a state whose rate of teenage sexual involvement is higher than the US average. According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, 59.3 percent of Delaware high school students have had intercourse, compared to the national average of 47.8 percent. And almost 22 percent have had four or more partners, compared to the national figure of 14.9 percent.
"We're trying to reduce the crisis related to teenage sexual activity, whether it's pregnancy, emotional hurt or something else," said Jane Bowen, program manager for ARC ("A Resource Center"), which is part of the nonprofit agency Children & Families First.
In New Castle and Kent counties, ARC's free services for teens include birth control, pelvic exams, counseling, and STD testing. ARC also sends Bowen to classrooms across the state to present an abstinence-based, as opposed to abstinence-only, age-appropriate curriculum to students in grades five through 12.
This summer, Planned Parenthood of Delaware is offering workshops whose goal is to encourage parents and guardians to become the primary educators for their children's sexual health. "Sometimes people feel like, 'I'm too nervous to talk about sex with my kids,'" said Catherine Dukes, the organization's vice president of education. "If you can admit to your kid, 'I'm really nervous about this topic,' you can relax a bit and start the conversation." Dukes stressed that "the talk" is, in fact, many talks over a period of years.
"When we talk about abstinence, we talk about it being a powerful and healthy choice," Dukes said. "They could choose to abstain for now, and if and when they are in a safe and committed relationship and want to have sex, they are prepared."
For information about Planned Parenthood's "Summer of Learning" programs, telephone 302-655-7296 ext. 19.
News Journal (Wilmington)
07.14.2009; Kelly Bothum
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