WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2015

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/553574

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Page 115 of 227

"Get Real" About Sex Education "We have a firm belief that parents are the primary educators of their children around issues of sexuality." $ S u s a n K a u f m a n / I n t e r i m C E O o f P P L M 114 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 5 M E D I A B A K E R Y a statistically meaningful result. "It's really hard to change behavior," says Dr. Jennifer Grossman, a researcher who co-led the study, "and Get Real demonstrates that its curriculum can change behavior." Wellesley uses Get Real in its sixth, seventh, eighth and tenth grade health and wellness units. Weston uses it in its ninth grade health edu- cation unit. Get Real is an abstinence-based program that puts parents at the center of the curriculum. "We have a firm belief that parents are the primary educators of their children around issues of sexuality. What we provide is support and materials that can enable parents to play that primary role," says Susan Kaufman, interim CEO of PPLM. The curriculum is designed with the expectation that parents or another caring adult will be the first and most important teacher when it comes to questions about sexuality. "Parents may not feel this way, but teens report that parents are the main influencers on their making healthy decisions regarding their sexual health. It is critical that educa- tors are turning students back to their parents to talk about family val- ues and beliefs about sexuality," reports Jen Slonaker, Vice President of Education and Training at PPLM. An abstinence-based program emphasizes that abstaining from sex (as it is defined in the curriculum) is always the healthiest choice and the only fail-safe way to prevent pregnancy. However, the program also acknowledges that some students will become sexually active and pro- vides the knowledge to understand the implications and possible repercussions of that decision in a non-judgmental environment. "We take guilt and shame and leave it outside the door," says Sciera. "Guilt and shame only discourage effective birth control, silence conversa- tions, and discourage healthy relationships." One of the hallmarks of Get Real is its emphasis on putting sexuality in the context of positive social and emotional relationships. "If a young person is able to negotiate a relationship, any relationship, then they are going to be that much better able to negotiate a sexual relationship," says Slonaker. "It just makes sense." The curriculum encourages students to safely role play different scenarios that they might encounter in the

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