Posted at 5 p.m. April 24, 2017

STD’s on the rise, be wise

Lack of state standards not the only problem, parents should take responsibility for issue

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Young people are magnets for other young people. Especially when it comes to high school and college students. According to numbers from the Centers for Disease Control, sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise. Since 2012, Wyoming has seen a rise in gonorrhea, from 44 cases in 2012 to 279 cases in 2016.

Wyoming also has an above-average teenage birthrate. In 2012, the national rate of teen births between the ages of 15-19 was 29.4 births per 1,000 girls and young women. The Wyoming rate was 34.6 per l,000 girls and young women in that same age range. Rates in Wyoming rose from an average of 2.4 births higher than average in 2004 to 5.2 above average in 2012.

Sex education in Wyoming is almost nonexistent. Wyoming state law does not require sex education but districts are allowed to go above the minimum standards. Teaching about contraceptives, such as condoms, prescription birth control pills, or the Patch is not required. State law also says the educational program should “stress the benefits of abstinence from sexual activity.”

If we know one thing about teenagers and sex, it is that they will have it. Better education standards and safer sex practices need to be adopted in Wyoming to slow down these growing numbers.

Courtney Smith, communicable disease surveillance program manager with the Wyoming Department of Health, said the infection rates for chlamydia and syphilis are also on the rise in Wyoming. According to CDC numbers, in Wyoming the rate of infection is highest among people 20 to 24 years old, followed by 25 to 34 and 15 to 19. Better education standards and safer sex practices need to be adopted in Wyoming to slow down these growing numbers.

This policy could lead to entire school districts producing poorly educated citizens. Imagine if an entire district was taught creationism as actual science.

With this lack of education, we could have entire districts of young people that believe it is bad to practice safe sex.

Wait a second, judging from the numbers, we already have that.

The Wyoming Health Education Content and Performance Standards, published in 2012, defines sexuality, but it fails to truly address the issue of sex education. The first page of the report says that Wyoming also has a higher occurrence of young people engaging in risky sexual behavior, yet throughout the entire report sex education is rarely mentioned.

The report addresses sex education from grades 8 to 12. Standard HE8.1.2 says a student must demonstrate the ability to locate appropriate health resources at school or in the community that help reduce health risks. This is essentially repeated in HE8.1.3-HE8.4.11 with slightly different language. The language is vague, says nothing about any kind of acceptable national or state standards, sets no real standard and can be interpreted to mean the bare minimum is acceptable.

The final standard addressing sexuality is HE12.4.5, which requires districts to analyze age appropriate factors that create good stress and bad stress. What would cause a young person unnecessary stress? Having kids at 17 because they didn’t know all the risks or where to get proper protection.

The lack of state standards is not the only problem when it comes to this issue. Responsibility can also be put on parents. If you have children, take it upon yourself to teach them about safe sex and sex education in general. Lessons learned from loved ones are always taken to heart easier than stories from strangers.


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