Decision-making in lower grades could help sex ed later, expert says

Published 11:30 am Friday, March 14, 2014

The second speaker in three months at Port City Kiwanis highlighted the need for starting the fundamentals of sex education earlier for public school students.
“Mississippi leads the nation in a lot of bad categories. We all know about obesity. We also lead the nation in our number of kids who are having sex before the age of 13,” Stacy Tennison, executive director of the Center for Pregnancy Choices, told the group Thursday morning.
The center works with Vicksburg Warren School District in providing sex education at the high school level and with some junior high students, Tennison said.
The curriculum, she said, is not appropriate for elementary students.
“Elementary needs to teach decision making, which would help,” Tennision said.
In January, Krystal Hamlin of the Child and Parent Center told the club that students needed to begin learning sex education in sixth grade.
High school curriculum presented by the Center for Pregnancy Choices includes facts on sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy rates and the three options pregnant teens face — parenting, adoption and abortion.
“We see several hundred students every time we go in, so by the time four years have passed, we have seen every single student at Vicksburg and Warren Central high schools,” Tennison said.
In addition to visiting schools, the center provides a number of services to expectant mothers and fathers, most of whom are between 15 and 24 years old.
The majority of people who seek the services of the center chose parenting, Tennision said. The fewest — about 1 percent — chose adoption. About 10 times as many terminate the pregnancy, she said.
“We see 400 brand new clients every year, and maybe 10 percent seek abortion,” she said.
The center also provides parenting classes and provides diapers and pre-natal vitamins to expectant mothers.