Controlling Your Surroundings
Teens are encountering more sexual misinformation than ever from their peers. The daily media intake (3.2 hours a day average according to the University of Iowa) promotes a culture of casual sexual permissiveness devoid of serious consequences. From unhealthy sexual messages embedded in an attempt to shape cultural norms, to the sexualization of women and girls in an attempt to sell products, the resulting consequences of embracing the media’s message is being withheld from today’s teens and replaced with a message that sex is casual and no big deal. Another important factor for teens is their peer group. However, the unpopular facts are: one in four girls aged 15-19 is infected with an STD, and numbers indicate that in America a young person is infected with an STD every 3.5 seconds. Teens need a healthy respect for the powerful consequences of sex, and they need it now. Only when teens have a good steady intake of accurate information by media and surrounding peers can they make informed decisions to protect their health, relationships, and future. Environment and surroundings make all the difference.
Recently, the Heritage Keepers® Abstinence Education program was delivered at an upstate charter middle school. The Heritage Program is a prevention program which provides medically accurate information regarding sexual health. The Heritage program leaves no question that abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage is the healthiest and best choice for avoiding untimely pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. The lessons and activities are interactive and designed to affect participants at an internal level, which is the most effective way to produce behavior change. Recent data from the Institute for Research and Evaluation found that Heritage students initiated sex at a rate two-thirds less than non-program students. Activities include:
- Definition of abstinence
- Discussions about values, boundaries, and goals
- Medically accurate information on sexually transmitted infections and diseases.
- Brainstorming sessions to help students understand the importance of boundaries.
- Demonstrations that help students understand the uniqueness of the marital relationship and why it is the safest place for sex.
- Discussions about the difference between love, lust, and infatuation
- An interactive day helping students set character standards for healthy relationships.
- Role playing behavior skills to avoid risk.
The Heritage teacher was purposeful to connect lessons to everyday messages received by teens from watching television and listening to popular music. Current rappers’ lyrics depict a message of wanting “to ‘sleep’ with every girl in the world” and there is constant sexual activity depicted on popular television shows, such as Jersey Shore. The abstinence instructor taught the students that sex in the media is controlled by the script writers…and their motive is NOT education, but money. This message resounded in one particular student when he said, “I used to befriend those that laughed about sexual jokes and treated the subject lightly, but now I’ve removed myself from those surroundings and ask them to stop taking sex so lightly.” It was a privilege for the abstinence educator to deliver the Heritage message of abstinence and respect for reality – and then see the effect on a teen’s behavior as witnessed by the student’s testimony before his classmates.
Heritage Community Services, 1757 Clements Ferry Road, Suite A, Charleston, SC 29492
(843) 654-7740 ext 119. Heritage@HeritageServices.org