The DeKalb County Board of Education voted last week to partner with the Cookeville Pregnancy Center to offer an abstinence based sex-education course.
School Health Coordinator DeeAnna Reynolds recommended that the course be adopted, saying that some sort of education on the subject was mandatory for DeKalb West, Middle and High School students. "We’re required by law according to our (teen pregnancy) rate to require family planning," Reynolds shared.
A two-day program, divided into 45-minute sessions, will be offered to middle school-aged students at DeKalb West School and DeKalb Middle School through guidance, and to DCHS students through wellness classes.
Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic’s Abstinence Education Coordinator Lisa Reeves also said state law calls for a program of this nature to be offered if the county’s teen pregnancy rate for 15-17 year-olds exceeds 19.5 per 1,000. "According to the Centers for Disease Control, the pregnancy rate in DeKalb County for the 15-17 age group is 35.3 per 1,000 females," Reeves said. "Under state law, if your rate is over 19.5 you are required to have some type of abstinence education to try and address that number."
Reeves said she will teach the course, and the subject will be approached with sensitivity. "I have been teaching abstinence education through the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic now for just over four years," she said. "The way I approach this material is that I talk to children just the way that I would if their parents were in the room. I always strive to do everything that I can to be above reproach. We do not allow a student in our classroom without a permission slip, and that is state law. I am a mom too, and I don’t want anybody talking to my kid about such a sensitive topic unless I have given that permission."
"Our program has been in effect for over ten years in Putnam County," Reeves continued, "but we’re also in White County and Overton County. We’re a pregnancy clinic. We see girls who are teenagers coming to our clinic on a regular basis in a situation they didn’t want to be in. What we have found is the only way we can be preventative is to try to go into the schools and talk to students about the choices that they are making before they find themselves in that situation. We go in and talk about and help them understand not only the risks that are associated with Teen Pregnancy but the risks that are associated with sexually transmitted diseases and the emotional consequences. We also talk to them about healthy relationships and boundaries to make in their lives."
A letter to be sent to parents reads: "This letter is to inform you that the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic’s Abstinence Education Program has been invited to come to your student’s class this semester.
"The Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic believes that saving sex until a committed, marriage relationship is the best way to protect against the emotional and physical consequences that can result from premarital sexual activity. The high rates of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and emotional consequences can only be stopped by teens understanding the importance of abstinence and making wise choices for their future.
"This program will be taught for two days in your student’s class. At the end of those days, students are encouraged to take the provided material home and share it with their parents or guardians. We understand that the subject matter that will be discussed is sensitive and we make every effort to present the matter at age-appropriate levels.
"Our curriculum, is called ‘Think On Point.’ I have also been certified by the National Abstinence Education Association," the letter concluded.