The DeKalb County School System is partnering with the Cookeville Pregnancy Center to offer an "abstinence based" education course to Middle and High School students this year.
The Board of Education gave its blessing during Thursday night's regular monthly meeting at the request of DeeAnna Reynolds, School Health Coordinator. "We're required by law according to our (teen pregnancy) rate to require family planning," said Reynolds.
The program will be taught for two days, in 45 minute sessions, to middle school aged students at both DeKalb West School and DeKalb Middle School through guidance and to high school students at DCHS through the wellness classes.
Lisa Reeves, Abstinence Education Coordinator for the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic, said state law requires school systems to offer such a program if the county's teen pregnancy rate exceeds a certain level. "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. 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," she said.
Though the subject matter is sensitive, Reeves, who will be the instructor of the course, said every effort will be made to present the material at age appropriate levels. "I have been teaching abstinence education through the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic now for just over four years. 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," she said.
"Our program (Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic) has been in effect for over ten years in Putnam County 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," said Reeves.
In a letter to be sent to parents, Reeves writes "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," concluded Reeves in her letter.