3.25.2009

Just a matter of 'Time'

In the ‘90s, a middle school music teacher, a colleague of my husband, asked me to suggest and loan her a videotape from my collection - a musical which would appeal to her students. Without hesitation, I said, “ ‘West Side Story.’ The kids will love it, and you can tell them it’s based on Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ ”

Regrettably, she returned the movie with a disappointing note. In the movie, there’s a scene in Pop’s candy store, where members of the Jets attempt to rape Anita, who has come to warn them that the Sharks are ready to rumble. The scene is nothing more than very tasteful choreography by the master Jerome Robbins and is prevented when Pop intervenes.

The principal stuck his head in her music classroom just as this scene was unfolding onscreen and ordered her to stop the film.

“That’s a real shame, “ I told her. “Does he think these kids don’t know about sex?”

I could not help but recall the incident when a report on local CBS affiliate WSPA caught my ear.

This same school, some 15 years later, now has a sex-education program which is a model for the nation. More than that, it’s a program which is working.

Connie LeGrand of WSPA reports (LINK):

“A sex-ed program in Anderson County (SC) is receiving national attention for its effectiveness in decreasing teen pregnancies. Anderson District 3’s model is featured in an article in Time magazine which hit news stands Monday.

“The program is called IMPACT, and it’s financially supported by the Women’s Leadership Council of the United Way of Anderson County. Students at Starr-Iva Middle School take the classes from sixth through eighth grades. The District wants students to know that abstinence is the safest choice, and the only sure way to prevent pregnancy, but the comprehensive sexual education program adds information about birth control and sexually transmitted diseases, skill-building and role-playing to help students make that decision.”

(…)

“The program started five years ago, and in 2006 there were 19 (teen) pregnancies in the district. By 2007 that number dropped to four, and in 2008 there were only two. According to Starr-Iva Middle School Principal Mike Ruthsatz, it improves students’ self-esteem. ‘You can just see it … towards the end of the year, I’ve seen a lot of the students, they are a lot more outgoing, and they are more confidant about themselves,’ says Ruthsatz.”

Hats off to the Starr-Iva Middle School community for such caring support of its kids.

5 comments:

Infidel753 said...

This is encouraging as it shows that there has still been progress in this area (reality-based sex education) even under Bush.

About the principal in the original story, I suppose it's possible that he thought a rape scene -- even a non-graphic one -- was inappropriate, which might be understandable depending on the age of the students. Young people certainly need to be aware that such things happen, though.

tiny said...

BJ, You need to send a copy of this to everyone in congress so they get the message and maybe get the neo-cons to realize that knowledge is power to individuals.

Tiny taught her kids and students, "The only thing that you will ever own that no one can take away from you is the knowledge you gain."

We see how reduction of teen pregnancies works when they get proper sexual education.

You're a good kid Charlie Brown to keep blogging important info and entertaining stories.

Infidel753 said...

get the neo-cons to realize that knowledge is power to individuals.

I think the neo-cons (actually soc-cons, in this context) know that -- and that's what worries them.

They don't want young people (or, really, anybody) empowered to make their own choices about how to behave. They want then to behave the way they're "supposed" to -- even if they need to be scared into it.

tom said...

The real shame is those young teenagers weren't able to see the ending of West Side Story for its powerful message. Let's hope they've seen it since. From nineteen teenage pregnancies down to two is a pretty good record and speaks volumes about proper sex education.

Good Southern Man said...

This is a very encouraging story. Something like this needs to be implemented here in Austin. I hope they also address protected homosexual sex as well. We have a large populous of young men who decide not to use protection and base their decision on the word of a person that they just met. It is most distressing.