Fla. Public School Program Reduces Pregnancies

Village Life News: November 21, 1996

By Jeff M. Hardison

More than one million teens become pregnant each year in the United States, according to The Wellness Coalition. of Castanea, Penn. More than 80 percent of those pregnancies are unintended, and almost 50 percent of teen pregnancies end with abortion.

Many educators believe providing better information for American youth can reduce the numbers of unintended pregnancies. What are American teens learning in sex education classes? Each state decides the content of curriculum and one Florida program is among those credited with reducing the rate of teen pregnancies.

Sandy Phillips, the supervisor of school health and nursing for the Charlotte County (Fla.) School District, said the district revamped its human sexuality education program five years ago, to become one of 20 Florida school districts involved with ENABL -- Education Now And Babies Later.

"In kindergarten through fourth grade, they learn about self-esteem, etc.," Phillips said. "In fifth grade they learn about puberty, the specifics of changes in boys and girls. We move them into same-sex classrooms for these lessons."

Phillips noted an innovative twist on this traditional public school approach to teaching sex education. The district has "Boys' Night Out" and "Girls' Night Out."

Youth attend a single-sex classroom setting with a parent or guardian. In response to single parent families, educators created a program to help both the child and the adult to feel more at ease about the learning process revolving around human sexuality.

The parent can take a video home to watch with their child, or they can go to the boys' or girls' night out program and watch the program in a group setting, or they can do both, Phillips said.

Continuing to build upon the foundations for students in Charlotte County's schools, sixth- through eighth-grade teachers provide students with information as part of the health curriculum, Phillips said. Students talk about different relationships with the opposite sex, starting in the sixth grade.

As part of the ENABL Program, sixth graders learn that it is not a good idea to have sex too soon in their lives. The program gives students "refusal skills" for removing themselves from situations which might lead to sex.

Phillips gave an example of an awkward situation. A girl is talking to her boyfriend on the telephone while she is baby-sitting. The boy learns she is alone, and that the no adults will be there for hours. Minutes after she hangs up, the boy is at the front door. The girl needs to know her options, Phillips said.

"Each year, in conjunction with the county health department, I give teachers a four-hour program about HIV. They need to be able to answer questions," she said.

"Our goal is to get kids to abstain (from intercourse)," Phillips said. "We talk about condoms, but we teach them that condoms must be used properly.

Phillips said teaching children about sex during the 16 years she has been in Charlotte County has actually helped keep teen pregnancies from increasing.

Related Stories:

  • Teen Pregnancies Not Morally Abivalent Subject

  • Parents and Teens Find it Hard to Talk About Sex

  • Fla. Public School Program Reduces Pregnancies

  • Churches Share Values in Sexuality Education

    [ Return to the Archives ]

    [ home | news ]

    Copyright © 1997 Kaleidoscope Ministries Ltd. All Rights Reserved