As young people grow up they face important decisions, especially when it comes to relationships and sexuality. Those decisions can impact their health and well-being well into adulthood. What happens when they don’t get the information they need to make healthy choices?
New Mexico’s teen pregnancy rate remains among the highest rates in the country. Nationally, young people age 15 to 24 account for one quarter of all new HIV infections and nearly half of the 19 million sexually transmitted diseases each year.
Experts say comprehensive sexuality education is about giving students the skills to understand healthy and unhealthy relationships and to communicate about sexuality and health.
New Mexico’s educational standards require school districts teach multiple strategies to prevent teen pregnancy and reduce risky behaviors. But not all schools report implementing these standards. So how do we ensure young people are learning the skills they need to protect themselves?
On this episode of Public Square we hear from students, parents, advocates and health experts. Leadership includes Kris Meurer of Albuquerque Public Schools, Anita Hett from Santa Fe Public Schools and Charles Sallee of the Legislative Finance Committee.
Funding for the production of this Public Square program is provided by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation working to improve the lives of vulnerable children. This program is the result of a partnership with Mission: Graduate and funded locally by the United Way of Central New Mexico. And, this program is part of American Graduate, let’s make it happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Quotes From PUBLIC SQUARE Participants:
“About 85 percent of girls say they have not had the sex talk. But parents think they’ve had the sex talk when they say ‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do’ and that’s not the sex talk.”
-Phoebe Spencer, MyPower Inc.
“What we really need are enforcement mechanisms to make sure that in our schools comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education is being taught.”
-Denicia Cadena, Young Women United
“For the Navajo People, you don’t talk about it. I really don’t know why. We have a lot of teen pregnancy on the Navajo Reservation and it’s sad.”
-Kahlaya Rose McKinney, Capacity Builders
“It’s important that we teach young people that life doesn’t just happen to them, but give them the skills to make their life happen in the way that they want.”
-Suzanna Gagnon, Nurse Practitioner and Mother
Learn more on the Resources page.
Caitlin Adams – Envision NM
Liza Bley – Planned Parenthood educator
Denicia Cadena – Young Women United
Suzanne Gagnon – parent and activist in ABQ
Kira Gleason (teenager) – Suzanne Gagnon’s daughter
Kahlaya McKinney – Capacity Builders
Rachel Nawrocki – Capacity Builders from Farmington
Knox Pyle – Capacity Builders – student (13-year-old boy)
Phoebe Spencer – MyPower Inc (Lea County)
Kendra Toth – head of Mountain Mahogany Charter school (middle school)
Anita Hett – SF PS
Kris Meurer – APS
Charles Sallee – LFC