A shocking report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a recent spike in STIs such as chlamydia (up 6 percent since 2014), gonorrhea (up 13 percent) and syphilis (up 19 percent) among young people.
Condom use is on the decline, resulting in over half of the 20 million new STIs occurring every year afflicting people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Sex is easier to do than to talk about.
Social media has a role in the startling increase in youth STIs in the past 10 years. Texting, short messages and snap chats, while fun and convenient, cannot replace the communication skills they really need when they put down their phones.
How do we change this?
Empower young people to teach and inform kids their own age with factual, age appropriate information, and dispel rumors and myths that are all too common.
Some Good News from the Centers for Disease Control:
- adolescents who believe their peers are using condoms are also more than twice as likely to use condoms compared to teens who do not believe their peers use condoms.
- trained peer educators are a more credible source of information because they communicate in readily understandable ways and serve as positive role models.
- adolescents who are counseled by peers are more likely to engage in interactive discussion following the education curriculum.
The current HiTOPS Teen Council teaches other teens about STI prevention, postponing sexual involvement, intimate partner violence, pregnancy prevention and more. They deliver interactive workshops for predominantly High School aged youth in schools,communities and juvenile justice detention centers throughout the region and state.
Good, but we must do more
Even the casual observer can see the acceleration of exposure to sexual content to young people at increasingly younger ages. For good reason, the current peer education curriculum begins in the 9th grade and focuses on risk reduction.
But, if we want to also focus on primary prevention, we must get to them before many of their beliefs and norms have been formed… in middle school.
It takes resources, both human and financial to create new curriculum and recruit the next generation of peer leaders, and you can be a part of that. Help them to push further and earlier, and reach adolescents in middle school where they are truly needed.
These are remarkable times, and you are needed now more than ever. Please make a gift to HiTOPS today.