By Jen Kastner
MIDLAND- This week, the Midland Independent School District announced that it currently has 99 pregnant teens in their schools. That's roughly the same number of pregnant teens they had in their schools this time last year. Questions are now being raised over the effectiveness of the sex education program, which was just implemented last April.
Tracey Dees, MISD Director of Health Services, is confident the program will eventually prove itself to be effective.
"We're not even one year into it. We don't want to start tweaking it. We don't need to tweak anything. We need to hold the course and do what we said we were going to do," she explained.
The new sex education curriculum, "It's Your Game...Keep it Real", is a computer and classroom-based program that follows an abstinence-plus model, in which abstinence is promoted first and foremost, but safe sexual practices are also encouraged. The program is designed for 7th and 8th graders. Last year, all MISD 7th graders started the program. Now, as 8th graders, they're continuing the second component of it.
The district says there is no way a miraculous drop in pregnancy numbers will happen overnight.
"Sex education curriculum is not magic. It's not like we're going to make these kids undergo a curriculum for two years and they're going to suddenly stop becoming pregnant. That is not going to happen. What we're hoping for is that they will make better life choices for themselves," Dees said.
MISD says the "It's Your Game...Keep it Real" program is proven to work. It's evidence-based. However, it will take some time.
"With the curriculum, what we do know is that it will take at least five years before we see anything that's effective in terms of changing numbers," Dees said.
Not everyone's convinced that MISD's program will work.
Midlander Daniel Montoia says, "It should of at least gone down. Or, at least the numbers should have changed slightly. Something should have happened."
Midlander Cindy King says the choice in program isn't the issue. Rather, she believes the problem is at home.
"You can educate kids all you want to, but if the parents aren't stepping in and teaching the kids right from wrong and what's a good thing and what's not a good thing, then all the education in the world isn't going to help. It's just going to bounce off their heads," she said.
Looking collectively at the last two school years, rather that comparing numbers at specific times each year, the overall pregnancy has actually dropped. During 2010-2011, there were 176 reported pregnancies. During 2011-2012, there were 136 reported pregnancies.