Seventh graders to take course on sexual abstinence
By By Steve Gillespie/The Meridian Star
July 8, 2001
If all goes as expected, seventh graders in Meridian and Lauderdale County schools this fall will begin a new and somewhat controversial course of study on sexual abstinence.
The aim of the initiative is to convince teen-agers to say "no" to pre-marital sex, officials said.
Parents were notified of the new program through letters sent earlier this spring, and officials say another round of letters to parents will be sent before students return to classes in about six weeks.
Funding for the sexual abstinence course a national initiative is being sought under a grant from the Mississippi Department of Health, according to Meridian district health officer Dr. Margaret Morrison.
Called "Choosing the Best," the course would be added to Career Discovery classes for seventh-graders. Career Discovery is used to help students explore future career choices and to teach them to make wise life decisions.
School nurses will teach the course through videos, case studies, role-play and group discussions.
The Lauderdale County School Board approved the curriculum at its June 21 meeting. Little said students whose parents do not want them to take the class, will not have to take it. McLin said the Meridian Public School District's Board of Trustees will be presented with the curriculum for approval after the grant is finalized.
Northwest University School of Medicine conducted an evaluation of the course, which was tested in 49 public schools in Illinois in 1994. The course involved more than 5,000 middle school students.
Results from the study showed 74 percent of all students said they were willing to say "no" to premarital sex, including 60 percent of those who had been sexually active.
Choosing the Best curriculum is set up in eight sessions:
Sex: Everybody's talking about it Students watch videos that challenges them to identify causes and risks of teen sexual involvement.
The risks of being sexually active Students are informed of sexually transmitted diseases and how easily they can be spread.
AIDS and safe sex? Students will hear from medical experts and patients about AIDS and the risks of condom use and safe sex lifestyles are explored.
Why some teens have sex The major pressures influencing teens to be sexually active are discussed. Students are taught principles for dealing with hormones, media messages, low self-esteem and peer pressure.
Why wait? The course will investigate the emotional pain of sexual involvement in dating relationships. Teen role models share personal reasons why they have chosen abstinence until marriage.
The dating game In separate discussion groups, male and female students will discuss what the opposite sex looks for in dating relationships and how to know the difference between infatuation and love.
Standing up for yourself Specific assertiveness skills are taught.
Being assertive under pressure Students role play specific pressure situations to learn how to apply assertiveness skills in a real life context.
Steve Gillespie is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3233, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.