Avoid sexual risks

Editor, Gettysburg Times,

In recent months opposition to the WORTH program has been articulated through various communication sources. Two days ago an Evening Sun reporter called to interview me for a story. She has contacted administrators at GASD, UASD, CVSD, SGSD and I just learned that she is interviewing school board members in these districts. Accurate, unbiased journalism benefits communities, because readers are allowed to form their own conclusions. Thank you for your commitment to this end. Your readers might appreciate additional information about sexual risk avoidance programming to better understand why our program is widely supported.Risk avoidance is a common public health model addressing the dangers of alcohol, drugs and smoking. The Center for Disease Control adds teen sex to that list (“Youth Risk Surveillance System,” August 2017). Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) programming places the emphasis on the prevention of risky behaviors. Sexual relationships affect the whole person – intellectual, emotional, social and physical. (This is not to be confused with comprehensive sex education, with a primary emphasis on reducing risk.) Using medical research and social science, SRA presentations help students identify choices that maximize healthy outcomes. They also consider the benefits of delaying sexual relationships and/or minimizing sexual partners.This is why the American College of Pediatricians endorsed SRA education in 2018 (https://www.acpeds.org/the-college-speaks/position-statements/sexuality-issues/school-based-sex-education-in-the-united-states). “School-based SRA programs have been shown to significantly delay the onset of sexual debut among adolescents without diminishing condom use among those who are already sexually initiated … The RA [risk avoidance] strategy is a population-wide approach, communicating the best health messages broadly and in a manner that resonates with a variety of subgroups of the general population. It seeks to positively influence individual decision-making … The goals are to encourage individuals to avoid all risk by not engaging in the high–risk behavior … This is the philosophy of sexual risk avoidance education …”WORTH is a supplemental, SRA program offered free of charge to area school districts. While health teachers address topics on reproductive health, STDs and contraception our SRA educators follow up with lessons that help students process this important information through engaging presentations. Parents appreciate home assignments that encourage important conversations at home. Students relate well to our approach. “I loved learning about ways to say ‘no’ that could help all of us in the future.” (7th-grader)

Cindy Janczyk, BSN

WORTH Program Manager

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