Detroit News Profiles State-Sponsored Abstinence Education Program
The Detroit News on Wednesday profiled the Detroit Abstinence Partnership, a state-sponsored group that promotes abstaining from sex and from drug and alcohol use to teens in the Detroit area. Director Terri Mial, along with nine employees and 85 volunteers, visits about 24 local middle and high schools each week to talk about abstinence and drug use. "We don't want to tell the kids [to] abstain until marriage because, for most of these kids, that's not a reality. We tell them they should abstain until they can handle the consequences of having sex. We want them to think about the consequences of their behavior," Mial explained. Educators use videos about STDs, skits and role playing and small discussion groups to present their abstinence message as part of a four-month curriculum. The program -- which is funded by the Michigan Department of Community Health, private donors, the Detroit Bureau of Substance Abuse and the Children's Center, a social services agency -- also discusses relationships and decision-making. In addition to classroom instruction, educators sponsor a theater troupe, weekend retreats, pool and pizza parties and dances throughout the year. The largest event is the annual Worth the Wait Abstinence Ball, held every July for students who have received at least 10 hours of abstinence and drug use prevention training. More than 200 teens attended the formal dance last year. Educators say their biggest challenge is debunking common sexual myths, such as the beliefs that you cannot get pregnant the first time you have sex or that only gay men get AIDS. "A lot of times [kids] come with street knowledge -- what they get from their friends and cousins who aren't too far from their age. I try to iron out the misconceptions," Sean Menifee, a prevention specialist with the group, said (Mercer, Detroit News, 3/6).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.