School District 150 is working on a new approach to reduce these alarming numbers.
Health teachers will now include contraception in their curriculum which used to only emphasize abstinence.
The change is required by the state.
Maureen Langholf oversees all of the school nurses. She explained that District 150 is one of 15 school districts in the state flagged as a “top priority district” due to its cases of STI’s.
“The data is profound,” said Langholf, “I don't know how else to address except to just take it head on and move forward.”
She continued to explain that most of the students in Illinois who reported to contracting Chlamydia and Gonorrhea are in Peoria County.
Monica Hendrickson, an Epidemiologist at the Peoria County Health Department, confirmed this.
”We see that zip code 61603, 61604, and 61605 have the highest and have had the highest historically for numerous years.”
Teen pregnancy numbers are also abnormally high, despite national averages falling.
However, the district plans to fix this and also bring its curriculum up to speed with the new state-mandates.
They require that students are taught about contraceptive methods and abstinence, or sexual education programs are removed completely.
However, it should help with the overall problem.
“[The curriculum] It's evidence-based. That means there's data supporting that teaching this kind of curriculum has shown decreases in STI’s and teen pregnancies,” Hendrickson explained.
However, Langholf said the community is a vital part to decreasing the area’s high number of cases.
“It's on our community plate I would call it. It's not just on my plate. It's not just on our teachers' plate. This is a community problem that we need to address”
District 150 is still in its initial planning stages for its new curriculum.
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