by Jackson Page, SRAS
“Those who promote programs that normalize teen sex as an expected adolescent behavior sell our youth short to the soft bigotry of low expectations.”These sharp words are from Ascend, which is the national Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) organization we affiliate with. There are currently two major approaches to sex education, Sexual Risk Reduction (SRR) and Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA). The SRR model generally assumes that teens are going to be sexually active, and unintentionally, normalizes teen sex. The focus in risk reduction is addressing physical aspects like pregnancy and STI’s. By contrast, the SRA model understands that most teens in the U.S. are sexually abstinent and/or capable of making the best future decisions when given correct information. Our focus in risk avoidance is addressing physical, mental, social, and emotional health. We hold students to the highest health standards, not by fear-tactics or shaming, but with information and hope that empowers. On July 23rd and 24th, our Pure Freedom team had the privilege of hosting Ascend’s Midwest Sexual Risk Avoidance training at Life Church in Kirksville. The training was taught by Thelma Moton and Ramona Ellison. Together they brought success stories from many years of experience. Each instructor has worked at city, state, and national levels to further the SRA message. They emphasized things (that we have already been working on!) like up-to-date medical accuracy, trauma-informed communication, and positive growth mindsets. We were not only affirmed in what we already do, but also prompted to further improve our program with some new ideas. We came away with encouraging information to help us refine our preparation procedures and class discussions. It was a blessing to host the training and show off our amazing program, clinic, and staff. Thelma, Ramona and many attendees were impressed and want to model parts of their programs after ours. We have reason to be proud, and it’s proof of the Lord’s work, through you, in us. Some of you observant readers may have already noticed new initials next to the names of a few staff members--- We are officially Sexual Risk Avoidance Specialists, and we can now flex our knowledge on paper!