In Bibb County, more than 4.52 percent of female teens between ages of 15 and 19 have babies. That's according to data from the North Central Health District. It's 1.87 percent more than women in the same age group nationwide.
The Bibb County Board of Education thinks they can help change that by updating its sex education curriculum, something that hasn’t been done in years.
“I had my first kid when I was 17 going on 18,” Kashanda Hall said. “Then after 2 years, I had my second one.”
About 10 years ago, she dropped out of Southwest High School to take care of them. Hall says she learned how to use a condom during sex ed at school, but chose not to use one.
“I was in love with the man I thought I was going to be with the rest of my life,” Hall said.
That could be a fantasy of many teenage girls. Stephanie Hyman with the Bibb County Health Department says the numbers show many teens in Macon-Bibb are having sex and facing the consequences.
“Being in the Bible Belt, we only talk about abstinence. If we continue to only talk about abstinence, I believe our teen pregnancy numbers will stay the same,” Hyman said.
4.52 percent of all teen females in the county have given birth, and when you boil the statistics down to just African-American young women, it's 5.87 percent.
“We have some of the highest (teen pregnancy rates) in the nation,” Bibb Schools Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Floyd Jolley said. “We want to make sure that we help our students and help them understand how to prevent that pregnancy.”
He oversees the changes to the sex ed curriculum.
Superintendent Curtis Jones says it hasn’t changed in more than twenty years.
“What we want to do is make sure were providing the best information that our community would be accepting of, but also make sure our students found it relevant or something useful,” Jones said.
Next year, Bibb’s six high schools will begin using what's called the FLASH Program. It was designed by the Department of Public Health in Seattle.
“It's going to be a guided curriculum that the instructors are going to be able to follow,” Jolley said.
The new sex ed curriculum advocates abstinence in part.
“Abstinence is what the state says is the one true way to prevent pregnancy and disease, so that’s part of program,” Jolley said.
It also teaches teens about birth control interventions, the human reproductive system, sexual violence prevention, sexual orientation, gender identity, and reporting sexual abuse.
The old policy emphasized heterosexuality as the norm.
The FLASH Program instructs teachers to say this: "In any school, there probably are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender students. There are also students who have close family members or friends who are LGBT. It's going to be important that we remember our ground rules and be respectful."
“We don't want any of the teens to feel unaccepted,” Hyman said. “We want all of our teens to feel accepted, so we definitely want to discuss something like that.”
The old policy also placed the primary responsibility for sex ed on parents and religious leaders. The new program changes that.
“We know that the teens are having sex, so we want to make sure that we try to teach them healthy behaviors,” Hyman said.
Hall says she’s not sure if the new curriculum will work, but she hopes they hear her warning.
“Stay in school. Don’t think about no baby because it’s very hard,” Hall said. “Just try to make something out of they self.”
According the FLASH Program website, it is a science-based program only. It has not yet been rigorously evaluated in order to become an evidence-based program.
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