Abstinence training to start in parish

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 9, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – Starting Tuesday, seventh- and eighth-graders in Concordia Parish’s public schools will be taught the importance of saying no to sex outside marriage with a 12-week program called WAIT (Why Am I&160;Tempted) Training.

Trained community volunteers will teach the classes, which will also be supervised by faculty members of the schools. Only those whose parents signed a consent form will participate, with the rest going to physical education classes.

Forms have been signed for 80 of 266 Vidalia students and 18 of 21 Ridgecrest students. But forms had not been picked up from Monterey and Ferriday as of Friday.

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The classes will reinforce the teachings of home and church, said Tonette Owens of Ridgecrest, who signed a form for her seventh-grade son. &uot;They need to hear it from those they don’t go to church with,&uot; she said. &uot;They need to know it’s not a one-sided deal.&uot;

The Abstinence Council of Concordia Parish is running the program with the help of a $96,000 state grant. WAIT Training is the first program of its kind in the state and could be copied in other parishes if it is successful.

According to Ferriday native Dan Ritchey, director of the Governor’s Program on Abstinence, such programs could help save millions of dollars spent to care for young moms and their babies and treat sexually transmitted diseases.

In 1995, the latest year for which figures are available, Concordia Parish had the highest rate of any parish – 104 births per 1,000 teenage girls.

&uot;That high percentage shows (abstinence) is not always being taught at home,&uot;&160;said Susan Rabb, Abstinence Council director.

&uot;And with this, they’ll be among their peers. Maybe a child will say they believe this and it may cause someone else to want to be like them.&uot;

Topics will include defining love; the consequences of premarital sex, the difference between needs and desires and between love and lust, bonding in relationships, HIV/AIDS, ways to say no and conflict resolution, Rabb said.

The Concordia Parish School Board will decide in June whether WAIT Training will be expanded next year to include high schools.

Junior and senior high students at Huntington School in Ferriday have already started the program.