increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases
Maria Guitierrez is a registered nurse (RN) in a suburban middle school. During the course of the school year, she noted an increased incidence of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) among the middle school students.
After reviewing information in nursing journals, other professional journals, and Internet sources, Maria understood that there was a national increase in STDs among young adolescents. She found that significant numbers of adolescents are initiating sexual activity at age 13 and younger.
The school nurse reviewed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) site on “Adolescent and School Health—Sexual Risk Behavior” (CDC, 2017). The CDC reported:
Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in unintended health outcomes. For example, among U.S. high school students surveyed in 2015
Sexual risk behaviors place teens at risk for HIV infection, other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and unintended pregnancy:
Maria reviewed the reasons for the increased STDs. Her assessment of the problem had several findings. LGBT sexual health issues were not being addressed. Sexually active teenagers do not use contraception regularly. Also, a variety of sexual misconceptions lead teens to believe they are invulnerable to STDs.
Adolescents also find it difficult or embarrassing to obtain contraceptives that protect from not only pregnancy but also STDs. The suburb does not have a local family planning clinic, and area primary care providers are reluctant to counsel teenagers or prescribe contraceptives without parental permission. The nurse also discovered that several years earlier a group of parents had stopped an attempt by the local school board to establish sex education in the school system. The parents believed this responsibility belonged in the home.
Maria considered all of these factors in developing her plan of action. She met with teachers, officials, and parents. Teachers and school officials were willing to deal with this sensitive issue if parents could recognize its validity. In meetings, many parents revealed they were uncomfortable discussing sexuality with their adolescent children and welcomed assistance.
However, they were concerned that teachers might introduce the mechanics of reproduction without giving proper attention to the moral decisions and obligations involved in relationships. The parents expressed their desire to participate in curriculum planning and to meet with the teachers instead of following a previous plan that required parents to sign a consent form for each student. In support of the parents, Maria asked a nearby urban family planning agency to consider opening a part-time clinic in the suburb.