In many communities, programs to reduce young people’s risk of HIV infection, sexually transmitted dis- eases (STDs), and pregnancy are fragmented, intermittent, short-term, and problem-focused. Young people may receive some HIV/STD education in some grades in school, but many students receive little or no contraceptive education, and many young people – such as youth who are not in school – receive almost no HIV/STD or contraceptive education. Prevention program planners often develop interventions that focus solely on reducing problem behaviors, and funding streams for these prevention programs often limit the ability of providers to meet young people’s needs holistically.1 In other words, HIV/STD and pregnancy prevention programs provide many young people with the sexual health knowledge, skills, and services they need; but, many youth still lack the motivation to avoid HIV, STDs, and unintended pregnancy.
By contrast, many youth development programs provide young people with the motivation to achieve a healthy adulthood but do not provide young people with the sexual health knowledge, skills, and services they need to avoid unintended pregnancy or infection with HIV and other STDs. Youth development programs are comprehensive and multifaceted, building on the assets and strengths of young people and assisting them to define goals, complete school, and plan their futures. Youth development seldom tackles isolated problems – such as sexual risk behaviors – but focuses instead on providing holistic support and opportunities for young people. Youth development is a strategy that attempts to meet the needs young people themselves identify – to have life skills, to be cared for and safe, to be valued and useful, and to be spiritually grounded 2 – by building on their capabilities, assisting them to cultivate their own talents and to increase their feelings of self-worth, and easing their transition to adulthood.
Committed youth-serving adults cannot afford to overlook the positive results to be derived from incorporating youth development strategies into HIV/STD and pregnancy prevention programs. Prevention programs should also consider linking with youth development programs in order to meet young people’s self-identified needs. In doing so, however, prevention program planners must “connect the dots” – make clear the connections – between effective youth development and effective HIV/STD and pregnancy prevention. READ MORE…
Why a Teen Video Project
In 2012, the first-ever national standard for sexuality education in schools was released. The National Sexuality Education Standards: Core Content and Skills, K-12 provide a new national standard with straightforward, clear and consistent guidance in the essential minimum, core content for sexuality education that is developmentally and age-appropriate for students in Kindergarten through grade 12. This initiative is intended to assist community leaders in full implementation of the standards in Southern schools. But will current leadership step-up to the challenge? Currently, as a whole, they do not. READ MORE…