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NC school board considering abstinence grants - Greenville, NC | News | Weather | Sports - WNCT.com

NC school board considering abstinence grants

RALEIGH, N.C. - Our public school districts get federal dollars to help teach children smart decisions when it comes to sex.

Thousands of dollars go toward abstinence education and under Affordable Care Act that will extend through next year. The State Board of Education met Thursday to talk about the best way to use the money.

The grant program in North Carolina is very state specific with a focus on students in 4th-6th grades who are at risk for academic failure and teen pregnancy.

Dr. Michele Wallen, professor at ECU’s College of Health and Human Performance, is an expert in school health education and adolescent health risks. She says the school board used specific criteria to pick where the $800,000 in federal grant money would go.

"They identified the top 19 counties through the teen pregnancy rates in the state and many of those are in the east,” said Wallen.

Bertie County, Greene County, Lenoir County, Duplin County and Edgecombe County are included on the list. Overall, teen pregnancy rates are down across the state but North Carolina is still ranked 16th in the nation.

“We still have a long way to go,” said Wallen.

Parents weighing in on 9 on your side’s Facebook page had mixed reactions. Some said it’s money well-spent. Others said 4th grade is too young for sex education. Some think sex education is the parents’ job.

“People may think abstinence education and they may have a completely different connotation with that concept,” said Wallen.

She says the program is less about sex and more about building life skills, including refusing peer pressure, bullying, leadership and building healthy relationships.

“They won't be teaching anything outside the state standards. Really you're just entering basic puberty information in grade school or in 5th and 6th grade,” said Wallen.

They are tools educators hope your children can use down the line when they are emotionally ready for an intimate relationship.

“It can help reduce a multitude of health risk factors for young people and potentially their peers in the community and in some cases their family as well,” said Wallen.

Wallen says mental health challenges are associated with a lot of risk factors. The grant also covers funding for some mental health services within rural schools, including one-on-one counseling.

--- Previous Story written by the AP ---

North Carolina's school board is expected to distribute about $800,000 to 19 rural public school districts to help teach children to abstain from sex.
The State Board of Education is scheduled to decide Thursday on a plan to distribute the federal money that will focus on students in grades 4 through 6 who are at increased risk for bearing children out of wedlock and academic failure.

A little-known feature of the federal health overhaul law commonly called "Obamacare" extends through next year the program that distributes money to states to teach abstinence education.

The school systems are in Alleghany, Anson, Ashe, Bertie, Bladen, Caldwell, Duplin, Edenton/Chowan, Edgecombe, Greene, Halifax, Lee, Lenoir, Richmond, Robeson, Scotland, and Swain counties. The two others eligible are Nash/Rocky Mount Schools and Robeson County Charter School.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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