In order for teens to practice abstinence, it is helpful if every adult in their lives is also encouraging them to be abstinent. However, many times the adults that are in a teen’s life are not aware of the benefits of abstinence or they are unsure of how to verbalize the benefits of abstinence and the consequences of early sexual activity. Even when adults support the idea of abstinence until marriage, many times they are unsure how to communicate their stance to teens. Adults in the community need to observe an effective abstinence-centered program. Teachers, parents, coaches, and other influential adults need to be equipped to make sure they are encouraging teens to be abstinent.
The Heritage Keepers® Abstinence Education I program was delivered at a school in Marion County in South Carolina. The Heritage program is a primary 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
A classroom teacher at a Marion County middle school said that before teaching Science for a living, she was a former abstinent educator. She often verbalized her strong stance against premarital sex and the life long consequences it could have on students of all ages. The teacher had no idea that so many sexually transmitted diseases exist today and went home each night to review what information was being presented in the class. She shared that many students are unaware of the emotional side to sex and therefore are not equipped to handle the stress of rejection when it comes even if it is as early as middle school. During the class, she gained more knowledge of what the Heritage program taught and believed that all schools should opt for the program. She even stated that after 31 years of teaching she would love to be “next.” When I asked, “the ‘next’ what?”, she replied the “next” abstinence advocate/educator.
The activities that affected the classroom teacher the most were discussions about sexually transmitted diseases, marriage, how sex is like fire, and the differences between love, lust, and infatuation. At the conclusion of the class, the teacher asked on several occasions how can she get involved with the fight for abstinence.
After completing Heritage’s program, the classroom teacher expressed, “I am a happily married woman with beautiful children whose desire is to see all youth reach their full potential. The classroom teacher also expressed that the program has ignited a fire in her, and after retirement, she would love to find a job that would allow her to share her passion as an abstinence educator because she wants to be “next!”
Heritage Community Services, 1757 Clements Ferry Road, Suite A, Charleston, SC 29492
(843) 654-7740 ext 119. Heritage@HeritageServices.org