Online Apps That Help Kids Ask Questions About Their Bodies
A few weeks ago, Vicki Cowart, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountain president and CEO, ended her interview with KNPR's State of Nevada by bemoaning the state of sex education in Clark County schools.
Planned Parenthood’s “In Case Your Curious” initiatives hopes to reach kids where they’re at, with factual answers young people have about their bodies, other people’s bodies, and issues of gender and sexuality.
Rebecca Engel is the director of sex education innovation at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. She told KNPR's State of Nevada that the idea for the Tumblr, Instagram and the text line was to allow young people access to information no matter where they were.
She said the text line allows teenagers to ask specific questions and the social media side allows teens to see questions others have asked and prompts new questions they may not have had.
Engel doesn't view the initiative as an intrusion of parents responsiblity but an easy way for young people looking for information to find it.
“We aren’t reaching out to young people further than posting stuff on social media," she said, "So, it’s young people seeking us out to ask their questions.”
Engel said educators stay away from questions of 'values' or what the young person 'should do.' Instead, they encourage the teenagers to reach out to a trusted adult to have the conversation.
“We try to be a kind of a guide between getting basic information and then getting further resources whether that’s from a parent, a guardian, an adult, a health center, a doctor, whatever that looks like,” she said.
Brenda Hernandez is the program manager for Cuidate at Planned Parenthood. Cuidate is an in-person education program specifically designed for Latino youth.
Hernandez said she is often surprised at the things teenagers don't know and even more surprised by what some parents don't know.
“I find it very interesting that not all parents have the knowledge that they need to educate their young people,” she said.
Hernandez talks to teens about everything from how a woman gets pregnant to how to prevent pregnancy and sexual transmitted infections. She also tackles the topics through the lense of Latino cultural.
She said the text lines are "more confidential." She said young people will contact the line because they are scared and don't know what to do. They can often provide guidance to resources they need.
Rebecca Engel, director of sex education innovation, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains; Brenda Hernandez, Cuidate program manager, Responsible Sex Education Institute of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada