Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sex Ed by Text

Today's New York Times Style Section (why does most news related to teens seem to appear in this section?) has a lead story about a pregnancy prevention program in North Carolina. What makes this program different is that teens can anonymously text a query to a Text Line and within 24 hours, often faster, they will get a reply from a trained, live counselor.

Brilliant. Kids don't get complete sex ed in high school (in North Carolina schools are mandated to teach an abstinence-only curriculum);they forget what they are told in class; they make dumb mistakes; they have a hard time talking with parents; and devour any opportunity to talk privately and confidentially to an adult (no question is off limits in my office and I am amazed at what kids need to know).

Not without controversy. Those who would rely on abstinence only education prefer to do their teaching at home and not lose control to a cellphone! Data unfortunately shows that this tack has not been working too well, both in terms of the knowledge imparted (values and plumbing both get short shrift) and in terms of prevention of unwanted pregnancy.

From my opportunities to chat with parents about teen sexuality and sexuality in general, I would say someone should start a hotline like this for ADULTS!

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