Here’s one of those stories that, after reading it, I’m not sure who should be slapped into detention first, the students, their parents, or school officials.
To demonstrate how sexually transmitted diseases are spread, a visiting speaker invited students to share gum in health classes at four county high schools in December and last month. School officials said a total of about 100 students participated in the lessons, although some declined to chew the gum.
At Damascus, about 15 students shared a stick of gum, students said. Julia said the speaker also asked for volunteers to sample squares of chocolate, one of which, they were told, was actually a laxative. The point was to illustrate the uncertainty of knowing whether one has contracted an STD after a sexual encounter. Four boys volunteered, she said. School officials said no actual laxatives were dispensed.
“At first, they just asked for a volunteer to chew a piece of gum for five seconds,” said Tim Perez, 15, a Damascus sophomore. “They asked, ‘Is anyone willing to come up here and chew this piece of gum that has just been chewed on for five seconds?’ At first, people were really hesitant to do it, and then more people started to do it. . . . I think she said the record was 18.”
Tim said he volunteered, along with three male classmates, to try the chocolates that might or might not have been laxatives. He did not chew the gum.
Call me crazy, but I think the intent of the exercise was ingenious. Ask kids to share ABC (already been chewed) gum, which should elicit a chorus of “yucks,” then use that as a teachable moment about STDs: If you won’t share gum with a friend, then why would you engage in anything that would result in sharing a sexually transmitted disease?
What happened, however and sadly, is a remarkable testament to the lack of neuron firing in some teen-brains today; they chewed it. They actually volunteered to put someone else’ s ABC gum in their mouths. Now, this being a PG site prevents me from making the next frightening leap, but I gotta tell you, if I was the mother of one of those kids, I’d be scheduling a little “come to Jesus” meeting pronto.
Education and health officials say the gum exercise was unsanitary and should not have happened.
Uh, repeat after me, “Duh!” Of course the gum exercise was unsanitary.THAT WAS THE POINT! Admitedly, the speaker should not have actually allowed the gum to be exchanged, but Montgomery school officials are saving their students from further health risks of ABC gum and have banned that speaker. Letters were sent to parents advising them to call the health center if they had any concerns.
One mother, God bless her common sense soul, said her main reaction upon reading the letter was disbelief that her daughter and her classmates went along. “I was surprised that she would do it,” she said. “Nobody could pay me enough to do it.” Bingo.
The American Social Health Association reports : Every year 3 million teens–about 1 in 4 sexually active teens-get a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD).; Chlamydia and gonorrhea are more common among teens aged 15-19 than any other age group.; In 2005, research showed nearly half of high school students have had sex.
I could not find any information on the health risks of sharing chewing gum.