Stories in vital statistics about sex!
Guess what the Center for Disease Control has to say about teen pregnancy, high school sexual activity, condom use and on and on… Then students collect the actual statistics and see if their group was right!
After kids had about 10-15 minutes to work on this, they gathered round the coffee table and shared what they were surprised about. Stuff like the pregnancy and sexual activity in high school was lower than they expected. Why? Interesting discussions about what the media depicts – Secret Life of the American Teen, “Mean Girls”, reality shows, magazines, news etc. and the bias toward sensational and ‘news-worthy’ skewing our perception. How does “Teen girl does homework and goes to bed on time!” sound for a lead article? So, yeah.
Then looked at stats that THEY were part of – The California Healthy Kids Survey for both our school and the high school. Stuff that surprised them were that almost half of middle schoolers had been driven by someone who had been drinking, almost certainly a parent the realized, shocked. And that 8% of 9th graders reported having sex before age 11, and again, realizing that that might be incest. That’s wow, about 1 kid in 12. That the continuation high school students had FAR higher rates of risk behaviors too. A bit of a dirty underbelly of our squeaky-clean community.
But on the plus side, we have half the rate of teen sexual activity and less than that of teen pregnancy. Why? Maybe because of the social taboo, the culture of going to college which a baby would definitely mess up. And also due to under reporting.
So, how true is the data? Some admitted making @#$% up on the survey and were entertained by the final question “Did you tell the truth on this survey?”.
Kids thought that males would over report sexual activity and females would under report. Shared survey question design to ask the same question both ways ex. Have you ever had sex? and then a few later “Are you a virgin?” Careless liars will be found if those don’t match up. But the best chat about data reliability I’ve had with students because it’s such an interesting subject and it’s THEM.