Healthy Youth Rhode Island (HYRI) is a grassroots coalition (housed under Sojourner House) with a diverse membership whose purpose is to advocate for age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sex education in RI public schools through a collaborative and multi-faceted approach. To this end, we seek to support member efforts, raise awareness about the need for good sexuality education, and broaden out the discussion to encompass more than just teen pregnancy.
Age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sexual education is a vital part of learning how to develop healthy relationships and how to break the cycle of domestic violence and poverty. A research project recently conducted in Cleveland, OH, found that youth that had received sex education were more likely to talk about using condoms and more likely to agree that not causing a pregnancy is important. Younger kids identified good touch/ bad touch as a major lesson learned, and they also noted that respect for others was an important lesson.
Rhode Island has high adolescent pregnancy rates in some areas of the state. In Central Falls, the adolescent pregnancy rate is 9.4% annually, while in Woonsocket the rate is 7% annually. Sadly, across the state, 3% of adolescent girls become pregnant each year. In 2007 the Center for Disease Control (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, found that by 12th grade, 63% of RI adolescents have had sex at least once. Implementing comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate, sex education in Rhode Island public schools would be a big step toward promoting healthy relationships and building awareness of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The mission and objectives of HYRI are accomplished by working with youth, parents, and allied community organizations to encourage the use of an evidence-based curriculum in RI public schools. HYRI is currently comprised of a diverse member base and recruitment is ongoing!