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Sexual education in northwest Louisiana: are the students learni - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Sexual education in northwest Louisiana: are the students learning enough?

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LOGANSPORT, La. -

The small town of Logansport got a real scare earlier last month.

"You see it on TV, you read about it other places, that you just don't think it can happen to you," said Bonita Wilson, a Logansport resident.

RELATED ARTICLEThreat of AIDS in Logansport devastates community

Cartrell Brooks, 40, was charged with intentional exposure of the aids virus on January 7th after being arrest for having inappropriate relations with a juvenile family member. A second charge of intentional exposure was added 10 days later.

There are two victims confirmed but a rumor in Logansport said there could be as many as 14. Wilson said it's the youth who are mostly affected.

"It's they don't know, the innocent," Wilson said. They're reaching out. And they don't know who to go to."

Wilson could not remember what—if anything—Logansport students are taught about sex.

So we went to DeSoto Parish Schools superintendent Dr. Cade Brumley for answers.

"We really respect the parent as the child's first teacher," said Brumley. "Especially during the younger years we try not to intervene too much with that. As students move into the high school grades we really try to hit it two-fold."

DeSoto Parish students receive sexual education in the 9th and 10th grade during their health and anatomy classes. According to the classes' curricula, the topic of sexually transmitted diseases is weaved through both courses, with highlights of prevention and control.

But Brumley said the education does not stop in the class room.

"Because of the sensitivity of the issue, we make sure that our students know that we have counselors on hand," he said. "We have school nurses on hand, that if they have more personal issues that they would rather discuss in a private manner as opposed to the whole class, they can go to those people and have those conversations."

The policies on teaching sex education are not the same in each school district. Louisiana law leaves it up to each school board as long as it is not offered in kindergarten or grades one through six.

The state allows each school to touch on these topics—STDs, pregnancy, childbirth, puberty, menstruation and menopause, as well as parental responsibilities of child support under state law. This law also requires major emphasis be put on abstinence between unmarried people.

Since each district gets to choose how sex ed is taught, KTBS looked at how other parishes in northwest Louisiana handle the topic.

Caddo and Bossier students are first introduced to sex ed in the 7th and 8th grade and touched on it again in high school. Parents can elect to have their child sit out during this part of P. E. or health class. Both parishes allow focused discussions on STDs and AIDS.

Sex ed is first introduced in Webster Parish to 8th graders in P. E. where healthy sexual choices and HIV are discussed. Then in high school, students will see it again in their 10th grade biology class and whenever they take high school health.

Is this education enough?

According to the statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, teen pregnancy is a local problem: Bossier, Caddo, DeSoto and Webster all are above the state and national averages. For every 1,000 teen girls, 54 in Louisiana had a baby in 2008.

Based on each parish's population teens in Caddo and Webster parish had the most babies, followed by DeSoto then Bossier.Louisiana also ranks very high for STDs—and teen girls are a large number of those cases.

Out of the four local parishes, Caddo had the most STDs cases reported in 2011 followed by DeSoto then Webster and Bossier had the least.

Most aids cases are in the Baton Rouge or New Orleans areas. However, the Philadelphia Center's recruitment specialist coordinator Virginia Player said the discussion about preventing aids needs to start early.

"Some people mature a little faster than others, a little earlier than others, but before they start talking about being apart of a relationship, they need to know about HIV and STDs," said Player.

The Philadelphia Center is the place for aids education and testing in northwestern Louisiana. People from the center's out reach program went to Logansport to help calm the nerves of the community. Player said just explaining how the disease is spread has helped.

"When something like this happens, people who don't know about HIV, they're actually scared that they might have come in contact with it by shaking his hands, or sitting behind him or drinking behind him," she said. "And we just want to let them know you can not get HIV that way."

To Bonita Wilson, any discussion is a good ting.

"They're talking about it, in the wrong way. Instead of reaching out and telling that person you know you don't need to be doing this," Wilson said. "It's as simple as you need to be using protection. If you're going to do it, be smart about it. Use protection."

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