YUSH: Youth Understanding Sexual Health
A Proposal for a Family Life Education Program
Studies show that the national average for an adolescent’s first sexual intercourse encounter is seventeen years old. Despite this number being very close to the average age in other industrialized countries, the United States holds a higher percentage of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease (STD) contraction than those countries (Harper et al, 2010, p. 125). It’s becoming evident that while a majority of the nation’s youth is sexually active, they are not doing so with the appropriate knowledge to keep themselves and others healthy. It’s been proven that if parents were to educate students about sex education, healthy sexual behaviors might increase. Many parents, however, refuse to do this because they feel that talking about sex with youth will make them have sex, ignoring the fact that whether the youth are talked to or not, they are having sex. It has even been stated that some teens prefer to get the information from their parents, as opposed to other educators (Zamboni & Silver, 2009, p. 58 – 59). Unfortunately, if the parents refuse to talk to the students about sex, they become sexually active without this crucial information. As the rates of STDs and teenage pregnancies rise in our country, youths between the ages of 12 and 20 years old could definitely benefit from the introduction of a family life education program focused on teaching the difference between healthy and unhealthy sexual behaviors. A program known as Youth Understanding Sexual Health (YUSH) would be the perfect venue for doing just this.
A program developed for teens in middle and/or high school, YUSH is a seven week program that seeks to ensure that these youths realize the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviors, the consequences and results of participating in both, and how to make sure that they avoid negative, harmful, and otherwise unhealthy sexual behaviors. By instilling this information into the children at early ages before or soon after they have begun to participate in sexual behaviors, the program will meet several crucial goals. First, it will get these students in to a routine of practicing healthy sexual behaviors that they can take with them well into adulthood. Not only will this maintain their own sexual health, but it will protect their other potential sex partners. Second, the new knowledge that the teens will gain from the program will allow them to pass on information to their peers that may not be allowed to participate in the program, be too embarrassed or shy to seek information, or been unable to attend the program sessions for any other reason. Other aspects of society reach popularity in similar manners, including music, movies, video games, dances, or slang, so this information can be expected to spread in a very similar manner.
According to Powell & Cassidy (2007), when developing an effective family life education program, its important make sure that they needs of the audience are appropriately addressed (p. 79 – 80). Of the three needs, felt, ascribed, and future needs, both felt and ascribed needs can be determined before the program has started. In order to effectively determine these needs, the appropriate assessments must be taken. Prior to the start of the program, certified family life educators (CFLEs) will conduct an assessment by using focus groups and questionnaires from potential program attendees within the target audience. Since the target audience is composed of students that attend local middle and high schools, the CFLEs will send home two things to the parents of all of the potential students: a letter requesting permission for the teens to participate in the program, which details the material that will be discussed and the extent of the programs, along with a questionnaire for the student and parent to complete together which addresses the information that both...
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