In 2006, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Cleveland Metropolitan School District CEO Dr. Eugene Sanders stood up for the health and well-being of kids in our community, ensuring that Cleveland was the first school district in the nation to offer comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education to all its students .
Considering rising teenage pregnancy and STDs rates, this responsible sexual behavior program arrived at an essential time. The curriculum is evidence-based and medically accurate, meaning that students get the right education at the right time, helping them to make smart choices about their personal health. And while the program is only a few years in, it appears to be making a real difference.
Earlier this week, Mayor Jackson held a press conference to reaffirm the program’s importance. With representatives from the County, CMSD and the AIDS Funding Collaborative at his side, the Mayor also shared the promising results from an evaluation conducted on the K-12 program by nationally recognized Philliber Research Associates.
The evaluation found that after participating in the program:
- Students in 1st through 3rd grades learned about respecting others and about good touch/bad touch, and what to do if someone tries to touch them inappropriately
- Students were more likely to behave responsibly, stating they would not allow themselves to be coerced into sex
- High school students had significantly better attitudes about protecting themselves and their partners if and when they choose to engage in sexual activity
- Parents and teachers overwhelmingly believed these lessons are important for their children and students.
The Cleveland Foundation, in partnership with the County, City, Gund Foundation and the AIDS Funding Collaborative, is a proud funder of this program, and we are thrilled with its early success.
Yet as the Mayor noted at this week’s press conference, “We know we are making progress and that we still have a long way to go.” We couldn’t agree more. Kudos to the district and our civic leadership for jumpstarting this vital initiative. We look forward to its continued success. Our children’s well-being depends on it.