Empowering Youth Today: Taking Charge
Empowering Youth Today (EYT) is an Abstinence based program locally called Taking Charge that is provided to 7th-grade students throughout the District Health Department No. 2 service area.
Abstinence is stressed as the most effective way of preventing teen pregnancy, STIs/STDs, and HIV/AIDS. Other topics discussed during the program are; state laws related to sexual behaviors, how drugs and alcohol influence sexual vulnerability, how the media affects our perceptions, peer pressure, puberty, and healthy relationships. Most importantly, skills are taught to and practiced by youth. Skills learned include; negotiation and refusal, recognizing unsafe/unhealthy social environments, and self–discipline.
Empowering Youth Today (EYT) is a strength-based, positive youth development program that incorporates sexual risk avoidance education. It aims to provide Michigan youth, ages 10-15, the tools needed to plan their future through high school/ college and complete goals without an unplanned/unintended pregnancy. EYT emphasizes the delay of sexual initiation by developing adolescents’ decision-making skills and promoting protective, healthy relationships. The five components of EYT that all funded agencies must include are youth programming, parent engagement, community awareness, advisory council, and community service learning.
The purpose of the Sexual Risk Avoidance Education (SRAE) Empowering Youth Today Program is to fund projects to implement SRAE that teaches participants to delay the onset of sexual activity. EYT also teaches the benefits associated with self-regulation, success sequencing for poverty prevention, healthy relationships, goal setting, resisting sexual coercion, dating violence, and other risky behaviors such as underage drinking or illicit drug use without normalizing teen sexual activity.
Participating School Districts
Alcona Community Schools Fairview Area Schools
Hale Area Schools Mio-AuSable Schools
Oscoda Area Schools St. Joseph Catholic School
Surline Middle School Tawas Area Schools
Whittemore-Prescott Area Schools
The Sexual Risk Avoidance Education Program is funded generally under the authority of section 1110 of the Social Security Act, 42 U S C §1310 and specifically by the appropriation for General Departmental Management for the Office of the Secretary under Division H, Title II of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016 Pub L No 114 113. EYT funding is made possible through The Administration on Children, Youth, and Families, the Family Youth Services Bureau, and The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.
- Mutual respect. Respect means that each person values who the other is and understands the other person’s boundaries.
- Trust. Partners should place trust in each other and give each other the benefit of the doubt.
- Honesty. Honesty builds trust and strengthens the relationship.
- Compromise. In a dating relationship, each partner does not always get his or her way. Each should acknowledge different points of view and be willing to give and take.
- Individuality. Neither partner should have to compromise who he/she is, and his/her identity should not be based on a partner’s. Each should continue seeing his or her friends and doing the things he/she loves. Each should be supportive of his/her partner wanting to pursue new hobbies or make new friends.
- Good communication. Each partner should speak honestly and openly to avoid miscommunication. If one person needs to sort out his or her feelings first, the other partner should respect those wishes and wait until he or she is ready to talk.
- Anger control. We all get angry, but how we express it can affect our relationships with others. Anger can be handled in healthy ways such as taking a deep breath, counting to ten, or talking it out.
- Fighting fair. Everyone argues at some point, but those who are fair, stick to the subject and avoid insults are more likely to come up with a possible solution. Partners should take a short break away from each other if the discussion gets too heated.
- Problem-solving. Dating partners can learn to solve problems and identify new solutions by breaking a problem into small parts or by talking through the situation.
- Understanding. Each partner should take time to understand what the other might be feeling.
- Self-confidence. When dating partners have confidence in themselves, it can help their relationships with others. It shows that they are calm and comfortable enough to allow others to express their opinions without forcing their own opinions on them.
- Being a role model. By embodying what respect means, partners can inspire each other, friends, and family to also behave in a respectful way.
- Healthy sexual relationship. Dating partners engage in a sexual relationship that both are comfortable with, and neither partner feels pressured or forced to engage in sexual activity that is outside his or her comfort zone or without consent.
- Control. One dating partner makes all the decisions and tells the other what to do, what to wear, or who to spend time with. He or she is unreasonably jealous, and/or tries to isolate the other partner from his or her friends and family.
- Hostility. One dating partner picks a fight with or antagonizes the other dating partner. This may lead to one dating partner changing his or her behavior in order to avoid upsetting the other.
- Dishonesty. One dating partner lies to or keeps information from the other. One dating partner steals from the other.
- Disrespect. One dating partner makes fun of the opinions and interests of the other partner or destroys something that belongs to the partner.
- Dependence. One dating partner feels that he or she “cannot live without” the other. He or she may threaten to do something drastic if the relationship ends.
- Intimidation. One dating partner tries to control aspects of the other’s life by making the other partner fearful or timid. One dating partner may attempt to keep his or her partner from friends and family or threaten violence or a break-up.
- Physical violence. One partner uses force to get his or her way (such as hitting, slapping, grabbing, or shoving).
- Sexual violence. One dating partner pressures or forces the other into sexual activity against his or her will or without consent
Teen Dating Violence
Teen dating violence (TDV), also called, “dating violence”, is an adverse childhood experience that affects millions of young people in the United States. Dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology. It is a type of intimate partner violence that can include the following types of behavior:
- Physical violence is when a person hurts or tries to hurt a partner by hitting, kicking, or using another type of physical force.
- Sexual violence is forcing or attempting to force a partner to take part in a sex act and or sexual touching when the partner does not consent or is unable to consent or refuse. It also includes non-physical sexual behaviors like posting or sharing sexual pictures of a partner without their consent or sexting someone without their consent.
- Psychological aggression is the use of verbal and non-verbal communication with the intent to harm a partner mentally or emotionally and exert control over a partner.
- Stalking is a pattern of repeated, unwanted attention and contact by a current or former partner that causes fear or safety concern for an individual victim or someone close to the victim.
Teen dating violence profoundly impacts lifelong health, opportunity, and wellbeing. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime. The good news is violence is preventable, and we can all help young people grow up violence-free.
Underage alcohol consumption is common in the United States and can have harmful outcomes. A comprehensive approach that includes effective policy strategies can prevent underage drinking and related harms.
The 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that among high school students, during the past 30 days
- 29% drank alcohol.
- 14% binge drank.
- 5% of drivers drove after drinking alcohol.
- 17% rode with a driver who had been drinking alcohol.
Underage Drinking is Dangerous
Youth who drink alcohol are more likely to experience
- School problems, such as higher rates of absences or lower grades.
- Social problems, such as fighting or lack of participation in youth activities.
- Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
- Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
- Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
- Disruption of normal growth or sexual development.
- Physical and sexual violence.
- Increased risk of suicide and homicide.
- Alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, or drowning.
- Memory problems.
- Misuse of other substances.
- Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
- Alcohol poisoning.
Preventing Underage Drinking
The Community Preventive Services Task Force recommends several effective strategies for preventing excessive drinking, including:
- Increasing alcohol taxes.
- Having commercial host (“dram shop”) liability laws.
- Regulating the number and concentration of alcohol outlets.
- Enforcing laws prohibiting alcohol sales to minors.
What Are E-cigarettes?
- The use of e-cigarettes is unsafe for kids, teens, and young adults.
- Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine. Nicotine is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development, which continues into the early to mid-20s.1
- E-cigarettes can contain other harmful substances besides nicotine.
- Young people who use e-cigarettes may be more likely to smoke cigarettes in the future.
What is Menthol?
Menthol is a chemical compound found naturally in peppermint and other similar plants. Menthol can also be produced in a lab.
Menthol can change the way the brain registers the sensations of taste and pain. In cigarettes, menthol creates a cooling sensation in the throat and airways, making the smoke feel less harsh and easier to inhale. Menthol is also used in other commercial tobacco products, such as e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco, smokeless tobacco, nicotine pouches, and heated tobacco products.
According to federal law, tobacco manufacturers cannot market cigarettes with “characterizing flavors,” except for menthol- or tobacco-flavored cigarettes. Almost all the cigarettes sold in the United States contain some natural or lab-created menthol. However, there is usually more menthol in cigarettes marketed specifically as “menthol” compared to other cigarettes. In 2019 and in 2020, sales of menthol-flavored cigarettes made up 37% of all cigarette sales in the U.S.—the highest proportion since major tobacco companies were first required to report those data to the federal government in 1967.
Smokeless tobacco is chewed, snuffed, or placed between the gum and the cheek or lip. It contains nicotine, which is highly addictive.
Health risks of using smokeless tobacco:
- Can cause gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss
- White or gray patches inside the mouth (leukoplakia) that can lead to cancer
- Increased risk for death from heart disease and stroke
- Nicotine poisoning in children
- During pregnancy can increase the risk for early delivery and stillbirth
Tobacco and Athletic Performance
- Don’t get trapped. Nicotine in cigarettes, cigars, and spit tobacco is addictive.
- Nicotine narrows your blood vessels and puts added strain on your heart.
- Smoking can wreck the lungs and reduce oxygen available for muscles used during sports.
- Smokers suffer shortness of breath (gasp!) almost 3 times more often than nonsmokers.
- Smokers run slower and can’t run as far, affecting overall athletic performance.
- Cigars and spit tobacco are NOT safe alternatives.
Tobacco and Personal Appearance
- Yuck! Tobacco smoke can make hair and clothes stink.
- Tobacco stains teeth and causes bad breath.
- Short-term use of spit tobacco can cause cracked lips, white spots, sores, and bleeding in the mouth
- Most e-cigarettes (vapes) contain nicotine—the addictive drug in regular cigarettes, cigars, and other tobacco products.
- A CDC study found that 99% of the e-cigarettes sold in assessed venues in the United States contained nicotine.1
- Some vape product labels do not disclose that they contain nicotine, and some vape liquids marketed as containing 0% nicotine have been found to contain nicotine.
- Nicotine can harm the developing adolescent brain.2 The brain keeps developing until about age 25.
- Using nicotine in adolescence can harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood, and impulse control.2
- Each time a new memory is created or a new skill is learned, stronger connections – or synapses – are built between brain cells. Young people’s brains build synapses faster than adult brains. Nicotine changes the way these synapses are formed.
- Using nicotine in adolescence may also increase risk for future addiction to other drugs.2
Parents play a critical role in their children’s lives. As their children grow to pre-teens and teens, parents worry about new risks they may experience. One such risk is the use of substances, such as alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, and other drugs. Parents can help by talking to their teen’s pediatrician about screening for substance use.
Substance use by teens can have a big impact on their health and well-being. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), developed a guide for implementing substance use screening in pediatric practices to help pediatricians address substance use concerns. The AAP recommends screening for substance use in children, starting at 9 years of age.
Substance Use Among Teens
- Alcohol, marijuana, and tobacco are substances most commonly used by adolescents.1
- By 12th grade, about two-thirds of students have tried alcohol.1
- About half of 9th through 12th grade students reported ever having used marijuana.2
- About 4 in 10 9th through 12th grade students reported having tried cigarettes.3
- Among 12th graders, close to 2 in 10 reported using prescription medicine without a prescription.1
Although it is illegal for people under 21 years of age to drink alcohol, the findings show that people from 12 to 20 years of age consume about one-tenth of all alcohol consumed in the United States.
Substance use can do the following:
- Affect the growth and development of teens, especially brain development.
- Occur more frequently with other risky behaviors, such as unprotected sex and dangerous driving.
- Contribute to the development of adult health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and sleep disorders.
Finally, the earlier teens start using substances, the greater their chances of continuing to use substances and developing substance use problems later in life. When teens begin drinking at an early age, they increase the chance of becoming addicted to or continuing to abuse substances later in life.
Sexual Risk Behaviors
According to the Surgeon General’s Report Facing Addiction in America, the misuse of substances such as alcohol and drugs is a growing problem in the United States. Although substance misuse can occur at any age, the teenage and young adult years are particularly critical at-risk periods. Research shows that the majority of adults who meet the criteria for having a substance use disorder started using substances during their teen and young adult years. Teen substance use is also associated with sexual risk behaviors that put young people at risk for HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and pregnancy. To address these issues, more needs to be done to lessen risks and increase protective factors for teens.