Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Abstinence is good for you! (a posting for nun57)

Program uses billboards to promote abstinence
Grant money funds UT Health Science Center's efforts to reduce teen sex

Six new billboards advocating abstinence until marriage will be unveiled this week in an effort to reduce the number of teen pregnancies in San Antonio.
The English and Spanish language billboards will be up for 12 weeks as part of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio's sex education program, which is funded by a grant from the Department of State Health Services.
Three different billboards, displaying pictures of young people will express the importance of parental influence on children, show the rate of HIV amongst teenagers and advocate saving sex for marriage, according to Kristen Plastino, program coordinator for the UTHSC.
"I think the billboard will get people talking, and that is a good thing," said Yvonne Gutierrez, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of San Antonio.
Plastino said she hopes the billboards will open the lines of communication between teens and their parents and discourage teen sexual activity.
"I think teens have other options besides becoming sexually active," Plastino said.

"I think it will help people to be confronted with the problem," said Sandy Bradford, director of Wise Choices for Youth, which works with the UTHSC on the program. "Most kids don't think about sex as ruining their lives."
The program is comprised of a curriculum given out to students in the sixth- to ninth-grades and parent and school staff education. The curriculum focuses on abstinence as the best prevention against pregnancy and STIs.
The program promotes abstinence because condoms are not very effective in preventing unwanted pregnancy or in guarding against a multitude of STIs, Bradford said.
"We've gotten a lot of positive feedback from students that, honestly, they wish they'd heard this information before," Bradford said.
Some are skeptical, though, of abstinence-only programs that highlight the negatives of contraceptives. Although kids should know that abstinence is the best way to protect themselves, giving them information about contraception is especially important for those who have chosen to have sex, Gutierrez said.
"I worry that that is risky for our young people," said Janet Realini, medical director for Project WORTH, the San Antonio Health Department's sex education program. "Information about condoms and contraceptives does not encourage sexual activity by any matter."
Stopping teen pregnancy and sexual activity should be more a matter of paying attention to how teens view themselves than using scare tactics, Realini said.
"We still have a lot to learn about how to encourage young people to wait," Realini said. "The big thing is whether young people feel they have a bright future and a reason to wait to have sex and babies. That's a much bigger job."


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