Program Rationale and Statement of Need
This action plan proposes a program that will indulge the teenagers undertaking High school studies between the age of 13 and 16 at the high school level. It seeks to be a value addition initiative that will require the involvement of the community at large in form of information sharing. The Far Rockaway community comprises of dynamic individuals with different backgrounds, upbringing and lifestyles. Majority of the people living in this area are characterized by middle level to low incomes. As a strategy to prevent teenage pregnancies in Far Rockaway community high school, New York, it aims at exploring an effective way to help parents and guardians of teens in our community to deal with pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse.
The students will be required to have a participative approach with the trainer and have a feel a different kind of learning that draws from real life experiences in a bid to curb the increasing number of school drop outs attributed to problems of teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse. At the end of their secondary education, they will ne issued with a certificate to show that they took part in the program and successfully completed, hence will be the pioneers of the behavioral change in the larger community.
According to Wight, (1997), teacher and workers in the public health sector assume that sex education is an automatic way to reduce sexual behavior generally and hence reduce the risk of teenage pregnancies. More sex education can either result into more safe sex, reduced transmission of sexual infections or even reduced teenage pregnancies. An approach from a counseling perspective will give it more meaning as the counselor will seek to understand the rationale behind the increased teenage pregnancies in a community. Another assumption is that sex education will reduce the teenage abortions being done around the clinics. Some others think that sex education will contribute to an increase in the sexual activities among the youth due to the various subjects covered making them aware of the human anatomy. However, it is the hope of those involved in the design of sex education that will override many other personal and social influences on sexual behavior especially among the teenagers. Researchers in the larger USA region have identified practices that sex education need to incorporate for the successful reduction of teenage pregnancies and these include focus on issues of not taking risks, abstinence or condom use. Sex education will e successful if an approach of students being taught in groups as opposed to a lecture format, providing information on the availability of family planning services, teaching teenagers on resistance of peer pressure, including role playing and trainers receiving full training before embarking on the sex education exercise.
Needs of the youth and the community at Rockaway are numerous but this action plan will concentrate on teenage pregnancies, drugs and alcohol abuse as well as counseling. Education and academic needs of the teenagers coupled with parenting, family communication and family management are some of the aspects that will go a long way in curbing the teenage pregnancies being recorded. In the community, 13 percent of all births to teens are between the age of 14 and 16 while the teenage pregnancy rate stands at 13% which is really high when compared to the larger Queen region. Other statistics reveal that births to single mothers in the region stands at 55% while the 59% of the children are born in poor families. Child abuse and neglect is also evident in the Queens region and less than 33% of the parents report knowing where to obtain help in resolving parent/child conflicts. The education levels are low as 41% of the populations do not have a high school diploma and the rate of school parents attending events at their child school stands at a third. Taking a look at the economic conditions of the population, 65% of them live in public housing and 40% have incomes below the poverty levels, 59% of the children are born in poor families as the unemployment rate for adults stands at 8.7% being the highest in the region and 7% of the female population in Rockaway has less than a 9th grade education.
An established means of measuring the success of sex education among the teenagers will be a crucial assessment to the training offered. It needs to include an assessment of the teenagers involved in the education in terms of their understanding on safe sex, instances of indulge in sex voluntarily of due to pressure, knowledge on where to get contraceptives, expression of what they want from a relationship and a fewer instanced of sexual encounters that are later regretted. On the long term perspective, the success will be attributed to reduction of abortions of teenagers, fewer cases of sexually transmitted diseases, fewer cases of unsafe or unwanted sex, delayed first sexual encounter and more appropriate use of contraceptives.
Redman, Goudie and Taylor (1997), agree that developing the appropriate services for the young people will be a move in the right direction towards the reduction of the large number of unplanned and unwanted teenage pregnancies. A research carried out in Dundee found out that it is important that young people are in a relaxed and informative atmosphere when it came to matters to deal with sexual behavior. Valued among the teenagers is the need for confidentiality and anonymity as the counselors offer a broadly based service in a non-judgmental way and positive image so that a teenager attending the session will feel at ease to share. A counselor will understand that the teenagers also need to be in an environment they are treated as equals, where under 16s are welcomed as they see people they relate to and they are able to seek advice but allowed to make their own decisions. Teenagers will feel free and valuable in environments where young people facilities are available, the services offered from people speaking on real life experiences, the teenagers have a say in how the services are run and a venue that offers a variety of teenage friendly facilities.
According to Peckham (1997), young people will be more attracted to a facility that offers a variety of facilities as opposed to one that concentrates on sexual health advice only. Having staff members that include females will attract more teenagers due to the since of balance seen as well as allowing individual time with clients lasting longer than the normal hours. Goodrich & Simon (2005) also agree that support services are a central component in the strategies to address teenage pregnancies, promote mental health and respond to drug related concerns majorly among the youth as well as the adults. Environments conducive for the young people to promote their health will be such that they recognize the changing needs of the young people as well as their enthusiasm for technology and other spheres of life. School based health provision for teenagers is increasingly perceived as having the potential to provide comprehensive, easily accessible and confidential services within a familiar environment friendly to the growth of the young person in terms of education need, spiritual and emotional. Hence it is essential to create a link between the school curriculums and the practical support of the health of the teenagers during and off class hours.
According to Kane (2008), health education will not only involve sexual education but also indulge on risky behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse, again in line with the notion that multi-component interventions are more likely to be effective than single component interventions. Fletcher, Et al (2007), agrees that a long term outcome relating to sexual and other health and social outcomes need a holistic program of education and support for the teenagers aged 13 – 15s who are the most at risk of drug misuse, alcohol abuse and teenage pregnancies. Not only id drug use harmful to the health of the teenagers but it is among the most serious of crimes in terms of impact on the legal and the prison system in majority of the countries of the world. Hsing (1995) says it is one of the main reasons the high numbers of school drop outs are recorded in most of the states in America. It is estimated that in 1995 in the United States only, 1.5 million individuals were put behind bars, the crime being sale and/use of drugs which is prohibited by the law.
National concern made the federal government as early as 1985 recognize drugs and drug abuse hence increase its budgetary spending in the war against drugs, as a crime bill was passed in 1994 to appropriate approximately $30 billion and hire 100,000 more police officers towards the same initiative. The New York state on the other hand revised its penalties against the drug users and sellers from a minimum of 15 years to life imprisonment. It also invested in the rehabilitation of drug users through a two year drug treatment program. Better outcomes are being reported as a result of this considering the re-arrests from the vice reduced to 44% as compared to 18% of the average prisoners. Drug abuse in New York can be attributed to lack of proper parental supervision and guidance of children as they grow up especially when they reach their teenage stage. When teenagers drop out from school due to one reason or another, the chances of falling into the traps of drug dealing is high. Increased frustration coupled with relatively low chances of securing an employment opportunity may drive a school dropout into using and dealing with drugs.
Drug education and prevention among the young people’s development has a major focus as the government policy places strong emphasis on the value of school based drug education. The government goes a long way in offering guidance on the appropriate curriculums to be used for drug education but the big question still lies in the effectiveness of such programs and how they can be defined and measured. Research and available literature reveal that by the time the young people get to the age of 16, 15% to 35% of them have tried an illegal drug and a further 50% of 16 to 24 year olds have admitted to taking some illegal drug at one time as the number increases sharply in the last years. Cannabis is the illegal drug that appears to be used by most of these young people as researchers agree that for many young people, drugs are now part of their daily life in terms of the knowledge of their availability and use, (Orme & Starkey, 1999).
Drugs use and alcohol abuse education need to take the form of information, skill and support in age sensitive ways among the school going teenagers. At this age group, they are at the highest risk of indulging into such vices and will end up developing serious problems. The department for education and employment published guidelines on drug education for schools and youth centers dubbed as ‘Protecting Young People’. The guidelines emphasized a wider personal, social and health education that incorporates drug education programs that should begin at lower school levels and inculcated into the higher institutions of learning. Other values included strategies to have open line communications between local education authorities, schools and youth services. The involvement of counselors and other professionals from the education fraternity is an important aspect that will ensure the success of sex education as well as drugs and alcohol education. The professionals need to be incorporated in the development of curriculums to be used for such education, as perspectives from all angles are essential for the development of teenagers. The counselor will provide an important aspect in the underlying reasons that are driving the teenagers to such vices and curb such as the adage goes it is better to prevent that cure.
Program Goals and Behavioral Objectives
This program’s main initiative is to get the teenagers to have the right information on sex, drug and alcohol abuse by the time they are clearing their high school. It will go hand in hand with the values and motto of the school and at the same time adhere to the highest moral standards expected by the education governing policies.
Subjects and Audience
The main focus of the program will be the youth between the age of 13 to 16 through the use of youth centers and institutions of secondary education such as Far Rockaway high school. The population of the schools will provide a wide avenue for the transfer of the information regarding the aspects of alcohol, drug use and sex education. The development of the curriculum to be used will enlist the services of professionals such as counselors, curriculum developers from the education sector as well as reformers from the drug addicts programs and doctors who undertake corrective measures in the event abortions that go wrong and those that help in the rehabilitation of the addicts.
Description of the Action Plan
This action plan will involve the supplement of the existing education programs on sex and drug abuse. The program will look into development of a comprehensive education system and the incorporation into the existing education programs. The teachers involved will be taken trough a training to familiarize them with the curriculum and understand the topics to be covered during the program. In a sneak peak, every year the curriculum will require the students to undergo a participative training on sexual, alcohol and drug abuse issues as they continue with their normal studies. Upon the completion of their years in high school, they will have covered all the modules required to successfully complete the sex and drugs education program. As the program runs, it will require participative approach of both the trainer and the participants. The students will undergo tasks that will require them to have role plays to ensure that the points to be expressed are emphasized. At one point or another, the program will require the initiative of the trainer to get in touch with the education department and have a person who has experience in the topic being covered. An example would be a role model, rehabilitated drug addict, a successful single mother who will give personal life experience. This will be important for the teenagers to have a feel of the importance of personal mental health as well as personal conduct.
Evaluation of Anticipated Results
The success of this program will be reviewed both in the short run and the long run. In the short run, a survey is to be conducted among the youth who have undertaken the program in terms of the knowledge impacted in them. Assessment is to be carried out using a questionnaire to establish what those who participated in the program gained on aspects of sex education such as abstinence, knowledge on use of contraceptives, availability of facilities to gain knowledge and advice on sexual matters as well as behaviors, issues of risk taking, peer pressure and many others. Assessing the program’s success when it comes to alcohol and drug abuse will also take the same approach. Evaluation of the long run aspects of the program will look into statistical trends in terms of recruitment of teenagers into the program, rates of recurrence of teenage pregnancy, incidences of abortions, arrests and re-arrests on the drug use crime as well as record the success stories from the participants of the program.
The program will be formulated into modules that will cover all the areas of concern in behavioral change in aspects of teenage pregnancies, alcohol and drug abuse as well as incorporate clinical mental health. This will be a gradual process for the students involved and will take a maximum of the time they will be spending in high school. It will be the responsibility of the teacher in charge and the counseling department to schedule the required time frames for the completion of the program.
- Chase, E., Goodrich, R., & Simon, A., (2005) Evaluating school-based health services to inform future practice: Lessons from “Teen Talk” at Kidbrooke School in Greenwich. Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London, London, UK.
- Fletcher, A., Harden, A., Bruton, G., Oakley, A., & Bonel, C.,(2007). Interventions addressing the social determinants of teenage pregnancy: Health Education.
- Hsing, Y., (1995). Impacts of welfare participation, school dropouts, and police force on illegal drug arrests. Journal of Social Economics. Southeastern Louisiana University, Hammond, Louisiana, USA International
- Kane, R., (2008). Sex and relationship education: Bridging the gap between research and practice. Faculty of Health, Life and Social Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK.
- Orme, J., & Starkey, F., (1999). Young people’s views on drug education in schools: Implications for health promotion and health education. MCB University Press
- Peckham, S., (1977). Preventing Teenage Pregnancy. Health Education Journal. MCB University Press
- Redman, J., Goudie, H., & Taylor, K.,(1977). Angus young people’s health project: Making health services more appropriate and accessible. Health Education Journal. MCB University Press
- Wright, D., (1997). Does sex education make a difference? Health Education Journal. MCB University Press