Sexual Health in the Rio Grande Valley: A Description of Perceived Barriers from the Perspective of Youth Development Professionals
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Purpose: The purpose of this research is to describe the perceived barriers to sex education program implementation in the Rio Grande Valley, from the perspective of youth development professionals. In 2009, there were approximately 4,476 births to female's ages 15-19 years of age in the Rio Grande Valley (Texas Department of State Health Services, center for Health Statistics, 2011). The teen birth rates in the Rio Grande Valley are higher than the national average, as well as, the state average. However, less than two-thirds of Texas school districts have a sexual health education policy in place. Many Rio Grande Valley schools offer any type of sex education program at all. This research develops a conceptual framework based on four categories; parents, adolescent health providers, school administrators and school board members. Methods: An electronic survey instrument was distributed to school districts and organizations in nine Rio Grande Valley cities. Responses were received from 65 participants. These responses were analyzed using simple descriptive statistics. Findings: The findings suggest that, according to sex education professionals, parents have the greatest influence on whether or not a school offers sex education programs to students. Parents' lack of knowledge of sex education programs and this hinders the adoption of sex education programs in the Rio Grande Valley. Another important factor is fear of community opposition and the perception of the opposition to sex education programs in the community. In addition, this study finds that parents, adolescent health providers, school administrators and school board members do not communicate well on the issue.