The answer to the question that most Penn Manor students were wondering.
At the beginning of second block Friday, students and staff were notified by an announcement to go into a modified lock down. Teachers were to lock the doors and open the blinds. For students and staff it was unexpected and teachers were not made aware of the upcoming drug search.
Officers from Southern Regional Police Department and their canine unit searched the high school for evidence of contraband.
Teachers received an e-mail at 10:05 a.m. informing them of a random drug search, also at that time Penn Manor School District’s website had a banner describing that a drug search was going on and that students were not in any danger.
This drug search was free of cost and it was the first time Penn Manor participated in a random search, according to Principal Philip Gale.
“We met the officer who handles the dog at the end of January, January 25,” said Gale. “In December we actually had the officer do a demonstration for us [at Pequea Elementary school] and there were three school board members present with us to show how the dogs would detect. They brought drugs with them and put them in different places (for the dog to detect).”
With the support of the Millersville Borough and Southern Regional Police Departments, a search of all lockers, bathrooms and locker rooms was conducted with the use of the drug-detection canines.
The school administration made an announcement saying the hope is that students continue to be part of the solution in helping to make schools safe places to learn by reporting any drug use to an adult.
The use of the drug detection canines adds an additional element of security for all students and adults at Penn Manor High School according to the letter that was sent home with the students.
Penn Manor’s school resource officer was not involved with the search because, “his burden of proof is much higher than our burden of proof,” said Gale. “[School Administrators] have to have reasonable suspicion and [police] need probable cause.”
When dogs detected specific areas in the school, they were marked to be further investigated. After the search was completed and the canines left, administrators searched the marked areas. No lockers were opened while the police or canines were still in the school.
Several lockers were detected, about a dozen students were called out of class to watch their locker get searched, according to Gale. There were at least two administrators who searched each locker, along with the student, if a student occupied the locker.
The areas that were most frequently hit (indicated by the dog) were water fountains and door handles. These areas are commonly touched during the school day and traces of substances could be left on them.
Gale had three major reasons for the random drug search;
1. “We have had a number of drug violations over the drug and alcohol policy this year.”
2. Keeping the school a safe environment.
3. Southern Regional police are a part of our school district so we wanted to work with them.
“There were a number of hits due to the sensitivity of the dogs,” said Gale, “nothing was found.”
Following the horrific tragedy that struck Manheim Central School District Jan. 16, Penn Manor students had a chance to reflect on how this accident will affect their future behavior. Will they take a lesson from the lives lost?
When four Manheim Central football players left their team breakfast early Sunday morning, they were unaware of the upcoming two-car crash that would end the lives of ninth-grader DeVaughn Lee, tenth-graders Nicolas Bryson and Cody Hollinger, and eleventh-grader John Griffith.
The crash occurred at 11:28 a.m. on Mount Wilson Road, in South Londonderry Township according to Lancasteronline.com.
Police said the teens were traveling south on Mount Wilson Road when the driver, who has not been identified, lost control of the car. It skidded sideways into the northbound lane hitting another car occupied by two people. Police said the driver and the passenger in the other car were taken to Hershey Medical Center, where they were listed in stable condition.
“A lot of people avoid that road now. If I, or my friends travel on (Mount Wilson Rd) we normally break down crying,” said Phil Wubbolt a junior, the school mascot, and basketball player at Manheim Central High School.
Three of the Manheim Central teens were pronounced dead at the scene by a representative from the Lebanon County Coroner’s Office. The fourth teen was taken to Hershey Medical Center, where he later died from his injuries.
According to RMIIA, an insurance information site, about two out of every three teenagers killed in a motor vehicle accident are males and eighty-one percent of teenage motor vehicle crash deaths in 2008 were passenger vehicle occupants.
“You have people to back you up, they motivate you to do stuff,” said junior Aaron Vickers.
Statistics also show that 16-17 year-old-driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.
“When people I know are behind me I drive faster to impress them,” said senior Robin Green.
The statistics should be a warning for teens to be particularly careful when passengers with young males as drivers or when a group gets together for an activity. But that doesn’t always happen. Penn Manor’s School Resource Officer, Jason Hottenstein, said he is aware that teens brag about some high-risk behaviors.
“(A common road for speeding in Lancaster County is) route 30 or 283, but at least its on a highway,” said Penn Manor’s, Officer Jason Hottenstein.
According to The New York Times, psychologists at Temple University used functional magnetic resonance imaging scans on forty teenagers and adults to figure out if there are differences in brain activity when young teens are alone driving versus a car occupied by friends. After doing multiple studies, the results suggested that teenage peer pressure has a definite effect on brain signals involving risks and rewards, which explains why some teens are more likely to misbehave and take risks when their peers are with them.
“I drive safe, I just don’t drive the speed limit,” said Penn Manor senior Nate Kreider, echoing a common response from teens at Penn Manor.
Do teens learn from their peers mistakes? Or do they figure “it won’t happen to me?”
“I don’t really speed anymore and when I see a hill or a corner I notice I slow down more than I would have before,” said Wubbolt.
Streeter Stuart, a history teacher at Penn Manor, made it a point to talk to his classes about the Manheim crash. He wanted to ensure that his students learn from the four boys’ mistake.
“What people don’t appreciate when they are being reckless, etc; is how much their actions can impact other people,” Stuart told his classes.
Stuart explained to his classes that an accident such as this will always be remembered in the surrounding communities, especially when a similar accident occurs.
“You don’t learn from others’ experiences, you learn from your own,” said Stuart, “and sometimes yours is what kills you.”
Stuart, who is also the freshman football coach, went along with some football players and head coach, Todd Mealy, to be at the Manheim boys’ viewing.
“What they did has in some small way lessened the lives of thousand of people because people are impacted by their actions,” said Stuart.
Dr. Steinberg, who also helped with the studies at Temple University, thinks parents should be aware that groups of teenagers need close supervision.
“All of us who have very good kids know they’ve done really dumb things when they’ve been with their friends,” said Steinberg. “The lesson is that if you have a kid whom you think of as a very mature and able to exercise good judgment, based on your observations when he or she is alone with you, that doesn’t necessarily generalize to how he or she will behave in a group of friends without adults around. Parents should be aware of that.”
“Smoosh” is the new smash for the Jersey Shore cast members.
For the past two years, millions of teens have been taking a trip to the Jersey Shore every Thursday night on MTV at 10 p.m. and if parents are listening closely enough, they may hear some new and shocking vocabulary their teens are learning from the program.
Since MTV is mainly a teen network, it is safe to say that most of people watching the show are teens.
According to MTV.com, Jersey Shore is bringing in 2.7 million more viewers than the hit show Teen Mom. In fact, of all cable shows, Jersey Shore was ranked second out of twenty-five, only under the ESPN Monday night football and right above Nickelodeon’s iCarly.
In essence, Jersey Shore has become the “talk” of the town. So the question is, is this new hip teen show affecting the way teens live their lives and their vocabulary?
“It doesn’t influence me to act a certain way, but it might influence younger kids who watch it,” said Penn Manor senior Moriah Freeman.
When the show first premiered, it was all about meeting new people and having fun on the Jersey shore. This past summer, the show in Miami was all about drama, drinking and sex.
In the hopes of starting fresh in the second season, the Jersey Shore characters Ronni, Vinny, Pauly, Mike, Sammi, Nicole and Jeni came to the new house to find more drama, more alcohol and more sex.
The first issue to come about and upset the house was former cast member Angelina, who left the show early the previous season, showing up for some additional fun.
With Angelina there last season, it definitely brought more problems within the house.
Vinny and Angelina had both openly expressed their hate for one another, or what they thought was hate.
After Vinny calling Angelina “the Statin Island dump,” and Angelina saying, more then once, how ugly Vinny is, they certainly found themselves in the smoosh room.
This fires up Nicole because she claims that Angelina “smooshes” or tries to “smoosh” every guy that she does.
The “smoosh room”, or “the community sex room,” was created from an extra bedroom for when the girls or guys in the house bring home a date they met.
After the boys get their “GTL” on (gym, tan, laundry), they come back, relax and then…T-shirt time!
Then it’s time to party. The cast member have found themselves at multiple clubs in one night.
The guys were the ones who mostly came back with the “smoosh partner.”
Of course the majority of the scene is cut out, but the young kids, teens and even some adults watching might take this show a little too seriously.
“Smoosh” has become a popular word in everyday life.
“I don’t think it influences anyone but it definitely makes the show interesting,” said senior Kristi Rineer.
“I think it’s stupid how people think it’s OK to act that way,” said senior Livie Stoltzfus.
“Smoosh was added to my vocabulary,” said senior Brock Kauffman.
Those who are against it, are strongly against it and those who love it, won’t miss a Thursday night.
With another season about to start, this makes us think… what is next?
Over a year has gone by and she has yet to reappear.
In a case that is still being investigated, Toni Lee Sharpless, a 29-year-old nurse at Lancaster General, vanished.
A television drama recounting the disappearance of this local resident is planned for February.
The last time anyone saw her was last August in Lower Marion when her and a friend went to a club and then to a party at Willie Green’s home, a former Philadelphia 76ers basketball player.
Sharpless left the party after making an unpleasant remark to Green and drove away with her friend who she later kicked out of the car for being upset about what had happened.
Green was later cleared by police of any involvement.
“I search for her on a daily basis,” said Eileen Law, in a recent interview in Lancaster newspapers.
Law is the private detective that took her case. “I do absolutely believe she’s alive,” said Law.
About a month after she disappeared, a camera on a parked police car in Camden, New Jersey spotted a car with Sharpless’ license plate. Investigators on her case was not notified until days later.
They then sent Camden police and New Jersey State Police to the area where her plate was spotted and did a scope out of the entire area.
“They did a lot of work, going through neighborhoods, in hopes of finding it (the car) or finding it abandoned,” said Lt. Frank Higgins of Lower Marion Police Department. “Cars don’t usually disappear entirely. At some point in the future they turn up, whether it’s a junkyard or somewhere else.”
Not too long after their search, a non-profit organization for search and recoveries used sonar to scan the Schuylkill River to see if she accidentally drove into it, but were disappointed when nothing showed.
“We fear the worst because of the amount of time that has gone by, and, as a mom devoted to her daughter, it wouldn’t make sense for her to abandon her family,” said Higgins.
Law seems to think that Sharpless was spotted somewhere since she disappeared. She claims to have received 50 reports of people who say they saw her, and they all say they either saw her in Camden, Philadelphia or Lancaster.
Those who say they saw her say that she was with two men, one of which was a thin Hispanic man with a goatee and a large African-American with a build like a football player.
Law stated that she believes Sharpless is still alive but somewhere in another state and that drugs may play a part in her disappearance.
“I think Toni is a phenomenal person who has overcome a lot of things,” said Law. “She loves her daughter more than life itself.”
“But I sense that Toni thinks her daughter is better off now. I believe Toni feels she’s broken,” Law said.
“I don’t think she broken at all,” said Law. “I can’t wait for the day I meet her.”
Law has visited the areas where people think they have spotted her to hang posters and talk to the people.
She has also looked into all reports coming in about bodies that are found to see is they could be Sharpless.
“People want to know and we can’t give then any kind of closure,” said Higgins.
Law is determined to eventually give her family the news that they want, finding her.
Five years ago on May 30, 2005, Natalee Hollowaydisappeared.
She was on a high school graduation field trip to an island in Aruba. No traces of her body were found except possible skeletal remains seen in a photo by two scuba divers that captured the image at the bottom on of the ocean, which turned out to be a false alarm.
Along with the underwater mystery, there was a jaw bone found along the beach of Aruba by another couple. According to AOL.com, Dutch forensic experts are testing this bone to see if it belongs to Holloway.
As a cautionary tale, as young teens already planning senior week, they should be aware that this could happen to them.
For example, in 2002, three Manheim Township graduates were charged with sexual assault of an intoxicated 16 year old girl at senior week.
Now, being five years later, another similar murder has occurred. Police chief Gen. Cesar Guardia stated that Stephany Flores, 21, was found face down in the hotel she was last seen in with Jordan Van Der Sloot.
According to Lancaster New Era, the Dutch government said Interpol, an organization based in Paris that coordinates investigations made by the police forces of member countries into crimes with an international dimension, had issued an international arrest warrant for Sloot.
Guardia then stated that Flores and Sloot were last seen entering the Lima Hotel around 5 a.m., and Sloot exited the hotel alone about four hours later.
“We have an interview with a worker at the hotel who says she saw this foreigner with the victim enter his room,” Guardia said.
When Flores’s body was found fully clothed, they discovered multiple abrasions to her face and body with signs of trauma, the police general stated.
Some wonder what took so long for the hotel staff to check the room.
Autopsy results are still being waited on.
Guardia said that Sloot left Peru by land and his exit registered at the Santa Rosa border crossing. Sloot had been staying at the hotel since May 14 after entering the country on a flight from Columbia.
Stated in the Lancaster New Era, Sloot was found in a taxi Thursday, June 3, several days drive and a country away, and was arrested for the murder of Stephany Flores.
He put up no fight when he was detained about half way to the Pacific coast from Santiago, stated deputy Chilean investigative police spokesman Fernando Ovalle.
According to CBS News, Sloot’s Dutch lawyer said Sloot was intending on turning himself in shortly before he was found.
After the arrest and quickly into questioning, he confessed to killing Stephany Flores.
According to ABC News, Sloot grabbed Flores by the neck when he saw her looking up information about his previous case [Holloway] and then continued by hitting her.
“I confronted her,” Sloot told investigators, according to La Republic. “She was frightened, we argued and she wanted to get away. I grabbed her by the neck and I hit her.”
“I did not want to do it. The girl intruded into my private life,” said Sloot. “She had no right.”
According to Al.com, Sloot did confess but later tried to deny the whole thing. He claimed that the only reason
he confessed was because he was intimidated and thought he would be extradited to the Netherlands. His request to have his confession retracted was denied.
Joran van der Sloot was previously arrested twice but with little to no evidence connecting him to Holloway’s disappearance during a high school graduation trip, he was let go in 2005.
According to a Dutch television crime reporter, a hidden camera they set up captured secret footage of Sloot saying he was with Holloway when she collapsed on a beach, drunk.
After Sloot was found, he told investigators that he left Holloway on the beach drunk which implied that that was the last time he saw her.
A Dutch Newspaper reports that Sloot took money from the Holloway family in order for them to receive the location of her body. Sloot took the money but gave no address.
Natalee’s mom sent Sloot $10,000 through an FBI agent and later transferred $15,000 into his bank account. He then caught a flight to Latin America with the money.
“I wanted to get back at Natalee’s family — her parents have been making my life tough for five years,” the Dutch Newspaper quoted him as saying from prison in Peru. “When they offered to pay for the girl’s location, I thought: ‘Why not’?”
He also publicly confessed to murdering Holloway and then retracted the statements may times.
Being a law enforcement officer and Penn Manor’s resource officer, Jason Hottenstein knows all the details about safe drinking and the dangers of being with strangers.
“You have to be extremely cautious with people you don’t know,” said Hottenstein. “Trust no one that you don’t know.”
There was also a website created to petition against senior week.
The website titled Stop Senior Week claims that the results of senior week are deaths, movies that glorify underage drinking, sex
and drugs, public intoxication and drug use and hundreds of car accidents and hospital visits.
According to CBS News, Tim Miller, founder Texas Equusearch, a non-profit organization that searches for missing persons, has assisted with the search for Holloway from the beginning and has become very close friends of the family.
Miller stated that Holloway’s father, David Holloway, sends his sympathies to the Flores’ family in Peru.
“(David is) talking about what a senseless death that was, that we feel as though the cover-up that went on in Aruba, with Joran van der Sloot never being arrested, that we need to hold a lot of people accountable for Stephany’s death in Peru. I mean, a very, very sad time for everybody. And now Dave is just trying to, I think, just digest what’s really happening in his life again right now. And of course it brings it all back to Dave and Beth, I’m sure that it’s like it happened yesterday. So there’s disappointment, there’s anger, there’s frustrations. And, again, Stephany, there’s no reason she should be dead today. Somebody made some huge mistakes over there,” said Miller.
Joran van der Sloot is being held in a seventh-floor cell with a bunk bed and blanket with three meals a day while he is being further questioned of the death of 21 year old Stephany Flores and the disappearance of Natalee Holloway.
“You are so beautiful,” “hey there beautiful… smile,” and “smile, you’re too pretty not to.”
Wouldn’t you like to wake up each morning having someone say these things to you?
Well, you can if you’re a girl at Penn Manor High School.
Lately, mornings at Penn Manor have been self-esteem boosters for some Penn Manor students.
Usually walking into the girls’ cafeteria bathroom consist of straightening your hair, doing your makeup or fixing your clothes. But lately, girls are getting a kick of confidence from positive messages and even flowers and candy left conspicuously by each sink.
“We feel appreciated because [the people doing it] know the girls go in this bathroom,” said freshman Aalyiah Glen-Cephas.
Notes first appeared in September and may have been part of a national effort to raise self esteem among girls.
Caitlin Boyle, a 26-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., is credited with starting “Operation Beautiful” that strives to help women stop the negative talk about themselves and other girls.
Boyle started her healthy lifestyle blog online in June 2009. She also started the posted-note trend which has spread to many public schools and bathrooms across the country and includes the walls of Penn Manor bathrooms.
Other notes in Penn Manor’s girls’ bathrooms read:“You are so much beautiful” and “God Loves You.”
Now, it looks like it’s being expanded from the last time these notes appeared because now there are flowers and candy rather than just notes on the mirror.
The group of girls in the bathroom who found these items were at first confused because they were not sure what all the fuss was about, but then they were pleasantly surprised when they read the messages along with the gifts.
“It boosts up my self-esteem in the morning,” said junior Maribel Dixon
Some girls at Penn Manor are loving the excitement of not knowing what is next.
“It makes me feel precious because the note I found said so,” said freshman Michelle Keck.
“It makes me feel beautiful,” said freshman Stacie Millson.
The girls look forward to seeing these notes and now with additional candy and flowers they are even more excited.
Girls are walking into the bathrooms at Penn Manor this year and are seeing notes aimed at raising their self esteem.
Written simply with a marker on Post-it-type notes, messages have been seen on bathroom stall doors that say, “you are beautiful,” “believe you are beautiful,” and “you are so much beautiful!”
Although the author of the notes is anonymous for the moment, it may be someone who was inspired themselves by a similar campaign to promote a healthy lifestyle for adolescent girls.
Dubbed “Operation Beautiful” by its founder, Caitlin Boyle, a 26-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., said on her website that she strives to help women stop the negative talk about themselves and other girls.
Boyle started her healthy lifestyle blog June 2009. She also started the posted note trend which has spread to many public schools and bathrooms across the country and, since this year, includes the walls of Penn Manor.
Other notes in Penn Manor’s girl’s bathrooms read:“You are so much beautiful” and “God Loves You.”
As for the author of these notes, that still remains a mystery as does the amount of the amount of girls in Penn Manor who’ve seen the notes so far. But as for the ones who have, it seems that the message is getting through.
“It’s a good idea, because high school girls are always down about themselves,” said senior Mikah Farbo.
Other girls may have not seen the notes but said they would appreciate the message.
“It would probably make me smile,” replied Ella Perry.
“I would probably be surprised, especially since there’s always negative things written in the bathrooms,” Elana Hart responded.
Compared to last year’s problem with nasty and demeaning messages, which was covered by a story in Penn Points,https://www.pennpoints.net/?p=1375 the messages in Penn Manor’s girl’s bathrooms this year are a lot more positive.
Whether its one person or more, posting these notes around Penn Manor proves a positive attitude can “stick” to others.
Synthetic marijuana or, as kids call it, “spice” or “K2,” is becoming the new drug of choice. It gets kids high and is currently legal.
Although it’s considered a brand new drug, coming mostly from Hong Kong, some Penn Manor students claim they’ve tried it, others have never heard of it.
“I think it’s awesome,” said a Penn Manor senior, “I’ve tried it before but don’t remember the difference from regular marijuana.”
The Journal Gazette in Fort Wayne, Ind., wrote an in-depth report on the substance in an April 29 article.
According to The Gazette article, much of the K2 is packaged in Hong Kong.
The article explained that many tobacco or “smoke shops” claim the substances are herbal in nature but that they are actually laced with either JWH-018 or JWH-073, or both.
“Both of those compounds were created years ago in a Clemson University laboratory. Somewhere along the line, companies overseas obtained the compounds and started producing the herbal blends now being sold in the U.S,” the article states.
Lancaster’s Puff ‘n Stuff on North Queen Street carries a similar product. Not called “spice, k2, or synthetic marijuana, an employee there insisted their product, sold as a herb, has the “same effect.”
The employee described the product as botanical or herbal incense and named some of the brands including, “Paradise and Bajou Blaster.”
According to an employee at Puff ‘n Stuff, you must be 18 years of age to purchase anything tobacco-related.
The Tobacco Palace in Park City Center said it does not carry any of the herbal incense products.
Nature’s Way in Elizabethtown carries both K2 and Spice which costs from $15 to $40 per gram and “must be smoked liked incense,” according to the clerk who answered the phone there.
Jason Hottenstein, Penn Manor’s Resource Officer said that he has heard of it but locally it has not been discovered yet.
“As far as the law enforcement community goes it has not yet been an issue,” said Hottenstein.
“I want to stress that these compounds were not meant for human consumption,” John Huffman, a Clemson professor whose group created the synthetic chemicals, commented in the Gazette story, “their effects in humans have not been studied and they could very well have toxic effects and they should absolutely not be used as recreational drugs.”
According to Huffman, these chemicals were created to understand relationships between structure and the biological activity of substances known as cannabinoids, which could result in new therapies for liver disease and other forms of cancer.
At this point, these chemicals are not being used for studies other than young kids wanting to get high.
According to The Phoenix New Times, the chemical JWH-018 in the synthetic marijuana is what is responsible for the high that kids are seeking.
“We heard a little bit about it four or five months ago,” said Jerri Lerch, executive director of the Drug and Alcohol Consortium of Allen County, commenting in the New Times article. “High school personnel heard kids were sprinkling it on cereal and also smoking it.”
Within the last two months, Erin Roberts, Penn Manor’s Juvenile Probation Officer, said she has heard about it from kids she is monitoring.
“I would approach it like I would cigarettes,” said Roberts, “I would advise them to refrain from it.”
“Any mimic of drug use or possession is treated the same way as if they had illegal marijuana,” said Doug Eby, Assistant Principal. “[The punishment would be] ten days out of school suspension.”
After the ten days of OSS, a board hearing will be held and the board members will decide if the student(s) will be expelled.
“Synthetic drugs and herbal drug products like Spice and K2 are not made in a controlled environment and thus you are playing Russian roulette when it comes to these types of products,” said Dawn Dearden, a spokeswomen for the DEA, commenting in a published report. The agency first began receiving reports about abuse of the substance last year.
“There is no way, outside of a controlled laboratory environment, to determine the chemical makeup, synthetic ingredients or amounts, and therefore there is no way to determine with any accuracy what the potentially harmful effects may be,” said Dearden.
Although this synthetic substance is currently legal, if you are pulled over, you will still be charged with driving while impaired, several law enforcement officials warn.
Penn Manor students have mixed views on the legal status of synthetic marijuana.
“It’s still negative to health and should be illegal,” said junior Quinn Nadu.
“I think it’s nice that it’s legal,” said junior Lindey Kunkel, “but I also think it opens a door to legalizing regular marijuana.”
A popular spot for Penn Manor families, Friendly’s restaurant on Columbia Avenue was robbed of cash Monday night.
According to Lancaster Online, East Hempfield police Det. Paul Fitzsimmons said two residents from York, Lamont Gorham, 56, and Lorraine Abuchaibe, 43, were arrested after fleeing the scene.
After walking in and asking the cashier for an application, police said Gorham pulled a gun from his pack and pointed it at the cashier, demanding the money from the register.
The two fled, according to the report, after receiving the money but luckily the employees were able to follow them and get their license plate number to notify the police.
City police Officer Kirk Wolfe was waiting in his cruiser at East King and Shippen Streets, according to the report, when he realized the suspect’s car passing him.
According to City Police Lt. Michael Bradley, Wolfe followed their car to Conestoga Pines Park where multiple city police cruisers were waiting.
When the suspects attempted to escape from the park, their car nearly missed one police cruiser before hitting Officer Martinez-Bender’s cruiser, then slamming into another behind it, the report stated.
The suspects were taken into custody. Police said they plan on filing additional charges against them for the destruction of the police cruisers.
According to published reports, the suspects were sent to Lancaster County Prison, Abuchaibe’s bail was set at $150,000 and Gorham’s bail was set at $100,000.
After the story How Much Do You Know About Sex received attention because the statistics showed some teens at Penn Manor High School are having unprotected sex, it seemed logical to follow that story with another, exploring why students are not using contraceptives.
Penn Manor freshmen students in Shawn Maxwell and Stephen Weidner’s health classes agreed to talk with Penn Points and give their personal opinions on why some students participate in the high-risk behavior of unprotected sex.
The students agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, therefore the names of many students are not used in this article.
The most common answer to the question why some sexually active teens do not use contraception was, “They don’t think it will happen to them.”
The other repeated issue was access to contraception.
“People are bashful about [contraceptives] and would rather have unprotected sex,” said junior Leah Freeman.
“I know teens who don’t have jobs or money and their parents don’t give them money, so they don’t know what to do or how to get [contraceptives],” said one Penn Manor freshman.
Several teens who were interviewed said they don’t use or try to buy contraceptives because they don’t care, they don’t have transportation to purchase it or they are scared their parents will find out and they don’t want to talk to them about sex.
Other Penn Manor students said they do not receive enough sex education. They said they are taught about STDs and the male and female parts, but not enough about contraceptives or the consequences of sex and unprotected sex.
“They teach about sex but only in one lesson,” said one Penn Manor student, “they talk about getting pregnant and STD’s, but only briefly on birth control.”
“They just talk about having a baby,” said freshman Nick Young.
“You can tell they don’t teach enough because of all the pregnancies and kids not using protection,” said junior Katie Coons.
Pregnancy rates among high school teens are on the rise again after years of decline. According to Time Magazine, in 2006 there were 21 births for every 500 U.S teens from 15-19 years of age, which is a rate more than three times the number in Canada. That may be why the federal government is reauthorizing two programs aimed at decreasing teen pregnancy and the rate of STD’s.
President Barack Obama recently signed a five-year, $250 million re-authorization of sex education funding. At the same time, the newly passed health care law provides $375 million over the same five years to promote more comprehensive approaches to sex education. This money will be available to public schools for funding Personal Responsibility Education and Abstinence Programs.
While some students are saying they don’t get enough sex education, Maxwell, the ninth grade health teacher, explained he does go into detail, as much as the curriculum allows.
“We talk about sexual anatomy to birth but not about parenting, and we also
Shawn Maxwell’s health class. Photo by Sarah Garner
talk about relationships, STD’s and birth control, but in a family-planning forum,” said Maxwell.
Recent statistics have pointed to the success of sex education in schools when it is combined with abstinence education.
In 1988, South Carolina passed the Comprehensive Health Education Act, which requires sexuality education from elementary school through high school, including at least 12.5 hours of “reproductive health and pregnancy prevention education” at some point during a student’s high school years.
Although their birthrates are high, South Carolinas comprehensive approach to sex education is credited with slowing that rate. It fell 27% from 1991 to 2006. In 2008, one school in South Carolina, using the comprehensive approach to sex education, had only two births to teen moms.
The study was widely used to show the effectiveness of sex education and abstinence education together.
It is not clear whether Penn Manor School District would take the federal funds for these types of sex education classes.
“Currently the state tells us what we must teach via the PA State Standards,” said Penn Manor Assistant Superintendent Ellen Pollock. “PA does not require an abstinence-only sex education curriculum.
“I would not be interested in applying for any grant funding until we know the specifics of what the Personal Responsibility Education Program must look like,” added Pollock. “Grants, especially federal and state grants, come with a lot of string and red tape and massive amounts of paperwork so I am extremely hesitant to deal with them.”
However, Maxwell said Penn Manor may want to consider the newly authorized programs for the students’ education.
“The only time kids talk about [sex] is in ninth grade,” said Maxwell about the school’s formal program, “after that they can only hear about it in electives such as child development.”
Within the five year re-authorization signed by Obama, the Abstinence Education Program will have as its exclusive purpose teaching social, psychological and health gains to abstain from sexual activity. It teaches that abstinence from sexual activity outside marriage is the expected standard for all students, and that abstaining from sexual activity outside of marriage is the only way to avoid pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and other health issues.
The program spotlights mutually faithful and monogamous relationships.
The Personal Responsibility Education Program encourages delaying sexual activity, increasing condom or contraceptive use for sexually active teens and reducing pregnancy among teens. It puts an emphasis on both abstinence and contraceptive use for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among teens. Activities are included to educate sexually active teens regarding responsible behavior.
Some Penn Manor students feel that more sex and abstinence education, such as these programs that could be available, will help them think about the consequences and options of protection when it comes to sex.
“I think we should try to take advantage of the money but no one will listen,” said a Penn Manor student, “hopefully it will make them realize that having sex doesn’t make you cool.”
“We should look into it so more people know what’s happening and what could happen,” said a Penn Manor freshman.
But not everyone is an advocate for more sex education at the high school level.
“I guess, but I wouldn’t take it,” said Young of the possibility of a sex education class being offered.
“I personally don’t wanna learn more about [sex or abstinence] because I feel like I know what I need to know,” said a Penn Manor student.
“I don’t think it’ll make a difference if they bring the programs to our school because everyone already thinks they know everything there is to know so they won’t care or want to listen,” said another Penn Manor student.
With Penn Manor students saying abstinence is not what teens are thinking about or care to think about, Bristol Palin, daughter of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, once agreed with these Penn Manor students. She now says that abstinence is realistic for her personally. At age 19, she gave birth to her son in Dec of 2008.
“I don’t think anyone realizes how difficult it really is until you actually have a screaming baby in your arms and you’re up all night,” said Palin in a recent Associated Press interview, “I wasn’t prepared at all.”
Maxwell said he’d be willing to talk to students when they are not comfortable talking with anyone else.
“I’d be willing to talk to them about knowledge, not advice,” said Maxwell, “but I’ll always encourage them to talk to mom and dad for advice.”