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Same goal, different path

Nadia Smetana, Lansford

This letter is in response to the letter titled “New name not a fix” which criticized the Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) approach to sex education. The writer and I have something great in common, believing that young people should be given “the tools they need to make healthy choices.” We differ on the best way to do this.

The writer endorses comprehensive sex education which normalizes teen sexual activity, as you long as you obtain mutual consent and use condoms and birth control. This approach uses a secondary public health model of sexual risk reduction (SRR). A survey revealed that about 40% of teens say that comprehensive sex education makes them feel pressured to have sex, contradicting the claim that they prioritize “waiting.”

Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) education reflects the primary public health model used to help youth avoid other risks, like smoking. No matter what precautions are taken, teens can still get pregnant, contract an STD, or experience negative emotional consequences. Any of these can jeopardize a teen’s health and future.

Research shows that teens who wait to have sex increase their chances for a happier marriage, healthier future family, a life of personal responsibility, and productive citizenship. The research also reveals that when teens have sex, the following negative life outcomes are more likely to occur: less academic achievement, decreased physical and psychological health, including depression, more involvement in other risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and drugs, more likely to participate in anti-social behavior, less likely to exercise self-efficacy and self-regulation, less financial net worth and more likely to live in poverty.

ALL youth, regardless of orientation or past sexual experience, need and deserve the information and skills that can help them make choices that eliminate risk. The question should not be IF SRA education should be taught, but HOW to best teach the concepts so that they are more effective. The SRA Specialist Certification program coming to Minot on Mar. 10-11 aims to do just that.

For more information, go to these websites: weascend.org and acpeds.org

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