Cordele - - Teens and sex. It's a risky combination. School administrators in Crisp County hope to minimize those risks by stepping up an abstinence campaign. They're now targeting middle schoolers, 7th and 8th graders, to bring down the county's rate of teen pregnancies.
Each day brings a different lesson for students here at Crisp County Middle School. Students learn about reading, writing, and arithmetic. Soon, they'll be learning about sex.
"What we observed in our community is that our children are far more knowledgeable about things than perhaps they were a generation or two ago," says Principal Michael Lehr.
He says the school has had sex education in its curriculum for years, but he wanted to expand it to include the risks and consequences involved with sex - -topics that can be uncomfortable for a teen to ask to their math or science teacher.
So the district brought in Regional Youth Health Coordinator Katrisha Williams.
"They do ask questions and a lot of times those questions may say my friend wants to know this, but a lot of times you know inside that they want to know," Williams says.
She travels to 16 counties spreading the same message.
"It becomes evident to a lot of young people that I can get pregnant, but a lot of times they don't realize that I can get pregnant and catch an STD at the same time."
She gets the word out through videos, brochures, and posters. It's a 6 week session that's up close and personal. The message - - if you're thinking about having sex, don't.
"It's abstinence based, we don't promote the use of any contraceptives, we don't promote anything besides saying no. that's the core theme of our sex ed program," Lehr says.
"If we don't inform them, someone else is going to inform them and it might not be the correct information they need to know," Williams says.
Preventing the problem before it gets out of control.
From 1996 to 1998, Crisp County was 3rd in state for teenage pregnancies. As of 2004, the latest data available from the Casey Foundation, Crisp County had 34 teenage pregnancies compared to 26 in 2003.