The goal of the Taking Charge Program is to increase the number of youth ages 10-15 years who abstain from sexual activity and other related risky behaviors. Teens in our area are at high risk for pregnancy due to poverty, parental joblessness and low educational attainment, geographic isolation, lack of transportation, and limited community resources. Additionally, youth ages 15-24 are most at risk for contracting a sexually transmitted infection. It is estimated that 1 in 4 young people has an STI in the United States.
The Taking Charge Program is a prevention initiative that is implemented within middle schools throughout the District Health Department #2 service area. Abstinence is stressed as the most effective way of preventing teen pregnancy, STIs/STDs and HIV/AIDS. Other topics addressed include how drugs and alcohol influence sexual vulnerability, how the media affects our perceptions, peer pressure, puberty and adolescent development, and state laws related to sexual behaviors. Most importantly, skills are taught to and practiced by students. Skills learned include negotiation and refusal, knowing and setting physical limits, recognizing unsafe/unhealthy social environments and relationships, as well as self-discipline.