A DC Sex Education Program Seeks to Change Teens’ Beliefs about Healthy Relationships
The #MeToo movement has changed the way we think about and understand consent and assault and continues to illuminate how society has normalized illegal and abusive behaviors.
But when those behaviors happen within the context of a relationship, determining what is illegal or abusive can be more difficult, especially for young people in vulnerable situations. How can we help them define and identify abuse and feel empowered to make safe choices?
In Washington, DC’s Benning Terrace community, an innovative, community-based sex education program called PASS (Promoting Adolescent Sexual Health and Safety) may be changing teens’ beliefs about healthy relationships and acceptable behavior.
PASS program facilitators—all trusted leaders from the Benning neighborhood—lead weekly conversations about sexual and gender identity, contraception, condoms, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and pregnancy.
But it’s not the free condoms or scary pictures of STIs that lead to long-term healthy decisionmaking. PASS helps young people distinguish healthy relationships from unhealthy ones, advocate for themselves, and set goals through activities.