If there’s a lab rat for the issue of sex education for young people, perhaps Worthington and Nobles County is it. It ranks among the top areas in the state for teen pregnancy.
The Worthington Daily News (Registration possibly required) has run several stories this week in a series on teen pregnancy.
Lori Klooster, director of Southwestern Minnesota Opportunity Council’s Family Planning office, is one of the guest speakers who talks to students in the Worthington school district. With the county’s teen pregnancy rate ranking in the top five for the past few years, she said perhaps the schools need to consider increasing its sex education programming.
“Maybe we need to reinforce this every year, rather than just seventh and 10th grade,” she said.
Donkersloot echoed that suggestion.
“I would like to see us targeting each grade every year,” she said. “This (year) has brought a big awareness to the problem.”
Previous stories have pointed out that the county ranks 16th (out of 87) in the state for the rate of chlamydia infections
The issue may be far more complicated than at first glance. Jane Feller of Nobles-Rock Community Health Services said there are “approximately 500 risk factors associated with sexual behavior and pregnancy in teens. The risk factors include use of alcohol or drugs, involvement with gangs, permissive attitudes about sex, sexually active peers and frequent dating.”
In the most recent legislative session in Minnesota, efforts to standardize a sex education curriculum failed. Some objected to one model that might become that curriculum. Others insist the job of sexual education should fall to parents.
But in Nobles County, as in many other locations, that isn’t happening.