Teen Pep Units:
High school juniors and seniors are enrolled in a, for-credit, year-long leadership course where they are trained in the Teen PEP curriculum by the participating school’s faculty who have been trained by the Center For Supportive Schools (formerly known as the Princeton Center for Leadership Training). http://www.teenpep.org/curriculum.cfm. These upper classmen serve as peer educators for freshmen students. They go into freshmen classes and conduct a series of workshops on sex and behaviors related to sex.
1. Teen PEP Curriculum Content
A. Abstinence: What Does it Mean?
Your teens will have the classroom assignment to create their own definition of sexual abstinence by circling behaviors listed for them that they can engage in and still be abstinent. The curriculum categories include: showering together, cuddling naked, watching pornography, phone sex, touching below the waist, sexting, m8asturbation, touching above the waist, internet sex.
Because of parental conflict with school administrations, Teen PEP has supplied an alternate worksheet that has a blank section where your children will be told to brainstorm with their peers and develop their own list of these “abstinent” behaviors. This assignment will cause students to generate a list of the same sort of sexual behaviors that parents originally found offensive and inappropriate for their children to be discussing in their classroom. (Unit 3, pg. 8)
Why? BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE THE TEEN PEP CURRICULUM GUIDES THEM:
The Teen PEP curriculum has chosen to adopted, and teach your children, the following definition of abstinence: “Sexual abstinence means not engaging in vaginal, oral or anal sex.” (Unit 3, pg. 6, 7). Note: The chosen definition used in this curriculum lesson of sexual abstinence for teens is not what would be commonly understood to be an appropriate definition, which is: the avoidance of behaviors that create sexual stimulation. Instead, according to this teen “health” program students are taught that behaviors considered foreplay would have to be categorized as abstinent behaviors. Therefore, sexually stimulating activities will be generated as responses to the question. But, the caveat is given that students are to be generating their own definition.
No teacher direction is included in this activity to introduce the concept that these foreplay activities lead to intercourse or that many STDs/STIs such as herpes, HPV and syphilis can be spread from skin-to-skin contact in the genital region short of intercourse.
B. Virginity: What Does it Mean?
“The purpose of this activity is to appreciate different opinions about what it means to be a ‘virgin’.” (Unit 3, pg. 3)
Students will enter the classroom with 4 large posters already on the wall.
“Each poster on the wall is a potential ending to a statement that will be read (see statement in box below). After reading the sentence, have each participant complete the statement by placing him/ herself under the sign that most accurately indicates his/her individual point of view.” (Unit 3, pg. 3)
Your children are asked to defend their point of view as they are asked the following:
C. The Real Thing: Constructing Pelvic Models
Your teens will be given the classroom assignment to partner with their peers and create life-size 3-D models of male and female sex organs. Once they have created life-size sex organs they will present them to the class.
D. Abstinence Is Taught as a Birth Control Method
Abstinence is mentioned frequently as the only 100% way to prevent pregnancy. An entire lesson is inappropriately fashioned that deceptively presents abstinence as a birth control method - which it cannot be. Impressionable young people need to understand that they will make one of two choices regarding early sexual activity, being involved or not being involved:
- Being involved in sexual behaviors –
With that comes the need for birth control, clinic testing, partner notification, STD/STI concerns, the possibility of early pregnancy, worry, emotional heartache, distraction and likely regret.
- Choosing not to be involved – With none of the life-jarring concerns listed above.
The list below will help clarify why early sexual activity cannot be grouped with abstinence:
If one were to take the two LIFESTYLE CHOICES [being Sexually Involved or Not Being Sexually Involved] and put them on either end of the spectrum with the common consequences underneath, it might look like this:
Sexually InvolvedConcerns for:
Not Sexually InvolvedConcerns for:
This is why Not Being Sexually Involved (Abstinence) cannot be put under Sexually Involved and cannot be considered a birth control method because it is a life-style choice.
Students in this program are in the process of deciding which of these two categories fit with their life-goals and future aspirations (two topics never talked about within the Teen PEP curriculum). Not Being Sexually Involved (Abstinence) cannot fall under the category of being “birth control” by any person seriously desiring to help young people in making this life altering decision of whether to be sexually involved or not.
E. What’s Your Decision?
This is an activity where the teacher reads scenarios to students and they are to mark down on their answer sheet whether or not they will have oral, vaginal or anal sex with this partner. The vignettes are a paragraph long and start with a freshmen couple: Your friends say you’re the perfect couple, and you’re so in love. This Friday you are going to spend the night together at your house since your parents aren’t home….
…What’s your decision??? Will you have oral, vaginal or anal sex with this partner?
5 more vignettes continue about your process through high school with different people. Each relationship ends with breaking up and you move on to the next person and are asked the same question: NOW, will you have oral, vaginal or anal sex?
The concluding scenario is about a graduation party. Two weekends later your friend from another high school has a graduation party. You’re there having a really good time and your friend admits he or she has wanted to hook up with you since freshman year. You’re really happy to hear this because you’ve been feeling the same way. NOW, will you have oral, vaginal or anal sex?
After your child goes through this badgering session, of asking when exactly will they have oral, vaginal or anal sex, the teacher gets to STEP 3 of the lesson, the discussion questions. No question focuses on the fact that like nearly all of high school relationships, these were short lived and if you were to have had oral, vaginal or anal sex, you will likely now find yourself deeply, emotionally distraught. Each of these scenarios is asking your child if they will jump into the hook-up culture without pointing out to them how that destructive life-style choice will end. Throughout this curriculum students are not pointed to the physical, mental, emotional, social, or spiritual/moral impact of promiscuous sexual behavior.
F. Underage, Illegal Intercourse Is Ignored
"Jessica's Story," is an HIV story about a 13 year old girl becoming infected with HIV via her 18 year old boyfriend. This story is read aloud in the classroom and it ends with Jessica having great regret and encouraging students not to do what she has done. The accompanying teacher discussion points begin:
Discuss the following questions.
- Thinking about the qualities of a couple that is ready for a responsible sexual relationship, what qualities did Jessica and her boyfriend have? What qualities were missing? (Didn’t use protection, didn’t disclose status)
- Why do you think Jessica’s boyfriend didn’t disclose his status? (Denial, mother said not to, afraid of Jessica’s reaction) What might have happened if he had been honest? (Jessica may have broken up with him, she may have stayed, they may have used protection, she may not have contracted the disease)
The accompanying teacher discussion points and suggested answers neglect to mention or discuss that an 18 year old having sexual intercourse with a 13 year old is illegal, adult-child sex and there likely may be legal ramifications to a mother directing a son not to disclose his HIV status to his sex partners. There is no direction with the first question to consider how a 13 year old would ever be in a position to have a responsible sexual relationship.
2. All Curricula Have a Teaching Goal
What is the difference in the teaching goal between a curriculum that teaches Risk-Avoidance and one that teaches Risk-Reduction?
A Risk-Avoidance Curriculum directs youth to avoid all high-risk behaviors therefore eliminating any risk; a Risk-Reduction Curriculum focuses on the skills necessary to be as safe as possible within a high-risk behavior.
A Curriculum Like Teen PEP is Merely Risk Reduction
Instead of teaching teens to avoid all high-risk behaviors (i.e. illegal drugs, early sexual involvement) the Teen PEP curriculum has the goal of teaching teens to decrease their risk while participating in high risk behaviors.
- Needle and Syringe Cleaning Process - A step-by-step illustrated needle and syringe cleaning process using bleach is taught to students to decrease risk of contracting HIV with illegal drug use. (Unit 8, Understanding and Preventing HIV/AIDs, pg. 23)
- Oral / Anal Sex Instruction - How To Use a Vaginal/Latex Barrier for oral or anal sex. (Unit 8, Understanding and Preventing HIV/AIDs, pg. 22)
- How To Use A Condom - A cartoon rendition handout for teens showing steps of condom use. Sexual intercourse is touted with a Do Not Disturb sign. (Unit 8, Understanding and Preventing HIV/AIDs, pg. 21)
Teen PEP Goals
Teen PEP Teaching Goals do not include: reducing teen sexual intercourse and/or reducing sexual behaviors, nor supporting students who are not sexually involved.
Teen PEP goals seek to have teens be comfortable and confident in condom use, sexual behaviors and accessing necessary health services through increasing student knowledge, skills, attitudes and practices.
Teen PEP goals: http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/teenpep.shtml#goal
- To provide school communities with increased support and resources for promoting sexual health among their student populations;
- To equip school personnel with the knowledge and skills to effectively teach sexual health to peer educators;
- To create an atmosphere of positive peer pressure where responsible sexual decisions are valued;
- To provide students with formal and informal opportunities to discuss sexual health issues with adults and peers in an atmosphere of mutual respect and factual discussion;
- To ensure that students have the knowledge and skills to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs), HIV and unintended pregnancy;
- To support students in the development and maintenance of attitudes that support safer sex practices and responsible decision-making;
- To motivate students to engage in behaviors associated with avoiding STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy;
- Students will increase their use of sexual health resources in the community;
- To provide parents with the knowledge and skills necessary to communicate with their children about sex and sexuality.
Program overview: http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/teenpep.shtml#goal
The New Jersey Teen Prevention Education Program (Teen PEP) is a statewide sexual health promotion and peer education initiative that enables high school students to make healthy decisions. Teen PEP is collaboration among the New Jersey Department of Health, the Princeton Center for Leadership Training and HiTOPS, Inc. (Health Interested Teens’ Own Program on Sexuality). Additional sponsors include the New Jersey Department of Education, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, and the Horizon Foundation of New Jersey. Teen PEP is based on the peer-to-peer education model developed by the Princeton Center and the nationally recognized sexual health curriculum developed by HiTOPS, Inc. The collaborating partners work with interested high schools across New Jersey to institute the Teen PEP sexual health course that is consistent with the core curriculum content standards developed by the New Jersey Department of Education.
A necessary element of a risk-reduction curriculum is that modesty be systematically worn away.
A student in these classes finds that every personal and intimate topic is on the table for public discussion. Through classroom lessons they will find that there is no protection for their personal privacy or modesty and embarrassment or valuing intimacy will not be respected or supported.
Condom(s) - 239
Anal Sex - 126
Oral Sex - 123
Vaginal Sex - 136
Abstinence - 79
3. Who Finances and Supports This?
Program overview: http://www.nj.gov/health/aids/teenpep.shtml#goal
The New Jersey Teen Prevention Education Program (Teen PEP) is a statewide sexual health promotion and peer education initiative that enables high school students to make healthy decisions. Teen PEP is collaboration among the New Jersey Department of Health, the Princeton Center for Leadership Training and HiTOPS, Inc. (Health Interested Teens’ Own Program on Sexuality).
Government Partners http://www.teenpep.org/our_partners.cfm
When NJ Government Departments are listed on the Teen PEP website under: support from current and former partners, it is obvious that the NJ Department of Health and Senior Services, NJ Department of Human Services and the NJ Department of Education have been very active for years in using taxpayer funding to support and develop these medically substandard messages for New Jersey youth.
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Division of HIV/AIDS Services (http://www.teenpep.org/usa.cfm)
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Division of Epidemiology, Environmental & Occupational Health
- New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, Division of Family Health Services
- New Jersey Department of Human Services
- New Jersey Department of Education
- North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Healthy Schools
- North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives
- The Horizon Foundation for New Jersey
- The Fund for New Jersey
- The Prudential Foundation
- Ferrara & Company
HiTOPS Treasurer on their Board of Trustees is Bruce Weiss, VP of Marketing, Trojan™ Sexual Health Products, Church & Dwight Company, Inc. http://www.hitops.org/about-us/hitops-board-of-trustees http://www.trojancondoms.com/ArticleDetails.aspx?ArticleId=27
4. What Parents and Youth Say
5. Video Segments:
6. PowerPoint Slides
7. For more information contact:
Your school superintendent:
To inquire if your school has brought in the Teen PEP program/are they considering it?
Main Program Sponsor:
New Jersey Commissioner of Health:
Ms. Mary O’Dowd, MPH
Phone: 609-633-3689 or (609) 292-1447
Teen PEP Program Director,
Center for Supportive Schools (Formerly Princeton Center for Leadership Training)
Chavonne D. Lenoir Perotte, DrPH
12 Vandeventer Avenue Princeton, NJ 08542
Phone: 609-252-9300 ext. 109