Between friends, the media, and the Internet, teenagers are inundated with information about sex typically limited to half-truths or myths.
Public health nurse Ty Esposito is seeking to replace common – or even uncommon – misconceptions about sex with facts through confidential information sessions to be held Fridays from 3 to 4 p.m.
Esposito will set aside the time every week to meet with teens interested in learning about anything from pregnancy testing to STD symptoms to birth control access. Teens can come in groups, such as with friends or partners, or alone. Esposito emphasized the confidentiality and safe environment of the sessions.
Though there is sex education in the school system, Esposito said many teens are still misinformed or unclear about certain things. And while parents might discuss sex with their kids, “the talk” doesn’t usually involve the nitty-gritty details teens need to know.
“Sometimes kids don’t want to talk to their parents. So they talk amongst themselves and they talk to their friends. This is a way to get the real facts out there,” Esposito said.
Esposito said many parents are also unwilling to accept the reality that their children are sexually active, and therefore won’t take precautions like getting their kids vaccinated for STDS like the human papillomavirus, which can cause cancers and genital warts in men and women.
Teens can come to the clinic, ask questions, and make appointments, such as for STD screenings. Students can even be excused from school in order to attend appointments, Esposito said.
Condoms are available for free at the public health clinic. (They are also available upon request at local bars, Esposito said.)
Esposito said other public health clinics have implemented similar teen-oriented programs that have been very successful.
“It’s about time Haines had one,” she said.