Are you an abstinence-only organization?
No. We are an evidence-based program which aligns with the Kansas State standards for health education. This means we will always recommend the healthiest choices regarding sex and relationships based on medical and social science. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) states that “The most reliable way to avoid the transmission of STDs is to abstain from sexual activity or to be in a long-term, mutually monogamous relationship with an uninfected partner.” Do we encourage abstinence? Absolutely! However, we also know that about 40% of teens will become sexually active in high school. We emphasize their responsibility to themselves and their partner(s) in this decision, making sure they understand the risks and give them the information they need to be as safe and healthy as possible. We also stress that optimal health is more than just the absence of disease.
Are you faith-based?
Yes. As a faith-based organization that works in the public schools, we are very aware that we are talking to students with values that span the spectrum. What this means for Relate 360 is that we will always have an emphasis on family values - what is going to help students have the best chance of successful relationships and family-life down the road. According to the latest (2017) CDC survey, 60% of teens are waiting to have sex, and we will definitely support them in that decision. But that also means about 40% are not waiting, and those students also need accurate information that helps them mitigate the risks they are taking and to stay as healthy as possible. We deliver faith-neutral information that addresses both groups, always pointing to the evidence presented in social and medical science that gives factual information and encourages healthy choices. Our staff includes people of varied life experiences, so we speak from a position of grace and wisdom that desires above all else to help teens make choices they won’t regret in their future.
Do you teach on birth control?
Every school we work with has a different approach to this topic. We discuss contraceptives in 9th grade classes or older if the school has given us permission to do so. We do not demonstrate or distribute condoms. In talking to students who may choose to be sexually active, we emphasize that outside of abstinence, a condom is the only way to protect themselves from the common STDs. They also learn that with typical use, a condom is only 87% effective as birth control. Students are informed about the top 5 methods of contraception, and that they must talk to a medical professional to decide what is best for them. We emphasize dual protection of using a condom and another form of birth control. We make sure students know they can go to Riley County Health Department at no charge and speak to a medical professional about how best to protect themselves if they choose to be sexually active. Throughout our presentation, students are always encouraged to talk to their parents or a trusted adult about all of these topics.
Do you talk about abortion?
Yes. In schools, as part of our teaching on pregnancy, we present nonsectarian medical and legal facts (in Kansas) about abortion. We also encourage students to speak to a trusted adult to figure out what they personally believe about this controversial topic.
What do you say about LGBT relationships?
We are committed to a kind and compassionate response to every student. We are fully aware that the teen years can be challenging, particularly for LGBT+ students who don't feel accepted or supported. We work hard to be inclusive throughout our presentations so every student feels valued, emphasizing that the healthy relationship principles we discuss apply to any relationship.
What do you say about sexual assault or harassment?
We take a lot of time in our presentations to define and identify the differences between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship. Part of that presentation includes talking about sexual assault and harassment. We give age appropriate definitions, and make sure that students understand the seriousness of these occurrences. So they also know that they are not alone, we help students understand that it is also, sadly, very common (1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 guys experience sexual assault before the age of 18). Our staff share our own stories when appropriate, and we always encourage students that talking with a counselor or therapist is an excellent choice in order to find healing and move toward healthy relationships. As always, students are encouraged to access the resources of the school counselor, school nurse or other trusted adults in the school or community.
What do you say about pornography?
The average age that most students (male & female) will see porn for the first time is between the ages of 8-11. It is not a matter of if your child sees porn, it’s a matter of when. (Note: Great resource for parents in talking to their kids about porn: Good Pictures, Bad Pictures). One of our partner organizations is Fight The New Drug (Fightthenewdrug.org). They are a trusted resource which helps us educate students about the dangerous and addictive nature of porn. The main message is this: Porn affects your brain; porn affects relationships; porn affects society. In class, we share information such as:
Because over 88% of pornography depicts violence against women, watching porn fosters a rape culture which objectifies women and fuels sexual and domestic violence.
Watching pornography supports the sex trafficking industry. Forty-nine percent (49%) of the female actors in the porn industry are victims of sex trafficking.
Research has shown that porn has the same compulsive behavior affects on the brain as illicit drugs.
We also make sure students know there is help available if they realize they are trapped in compulsively viewing pornography. JoinFortify.com is an online recovery tool, free to those 13-17.
What grades do you teach?
The majority of our presentations are to students in 8th & 9th grade health class. However, we also regularly speak to all ages from 6th grade through college, as well as parents. All our presentations are age appropriate based on Kansas State standards for health education and industry standards for relationship curriculum. A summary of what we teach in every grade can be found here.
How long are your presentations?
Our 6th and 8th grade programs are 3 class hours (approximately 45 minutes each). Our presentations for the 9th and 12th grades are 4 or 5 class hours, depending on each school's schedule. Parent programs are anywhere from one to three hours, depending on what is requested. And no, we never have enough time to present all the information we'd like to!