Why Buffalo May Be Tuning Out Sex Education | News
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The obstacles are against the Buffalo Public School system as it tries to address high levels of sexual activity among students.
District-wide, students are breaking new barriers that are not good and can destroy lives.
But, the school district is pressing forward hoping the community will reverse what has become the norm among Buffalo's youth.
Buffalo has always had a major problem in dealing with high numbers of sexually active youth. The school district is trying to address this issue in ways it's never used before. The district released a survey this week revealing alarmingly high numbers of sexual activity among students. It's also started to hold public forums, but there's a problem.
"It's difficult for parents to talk with kids about, it's difficult for parents to talk about not having a very large group last night [Thursday] is probably indicative of the difficulty of people addressing this topic," said Barbara Nevergold, a board member for the school district.
The first forum targeting sexual activity in Buffalo was bleak, with only about 30 people at South Park High. The low turnout begs the question, whether people really care about this issue?
"The reason that we're having four forums and that we're having them in different parts of the city is because although the forums are open to anybody to anyone, anywhere to anyone in the city, it's more likely that people will come to a school that's closest to them," said Nevergold, a former executive for Planned Parenthood.
The survey showed that in middle schools, almost half of students have had sex with three or more partners. Also, 22 percent did not use a condom during the last time they had intercourse. Plus, close to half of all students say that they did not learn about AIDS or HIV in school.
In high school, about 40 percent of students are sexually active and there are above average numbers of students who have had multiple partners and early initiation.
But there are major roadblocks to the school district's effort in reaching kids, such as high poverty, crime and violence, which can contribute to serious problems. Community leaders like Dwayne Ferguson, the CEO of Men Against Destruction says students need balanced home lives.
"I think it's real big when you have a father that's in the home that can really talk to his daughter or son about that situation and I think that helps out a whole lot so they can come to school and talk about, they'll be a lot more prepared about it," said Ferguson.
The survey showed for the first time what students think before sex, not just after sex. School officials say this is critical in helping to prevent students from suffering from the consequnces of having premature sexual relations.
Experts stress the need for the community, like churches and health care centers to come together on this issue.
Nevergold says that slow progress on sex education and awareness could lead to major changes in hopefully decreasing sexual activity among Buffalo's youth. She says reaching even one person is a success.