Teaching others it pays to say no

Published 12:39 am Monday, May 9, 2005

By By RANDI K. PICKLEY / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Can a computer prevent teen pregnancy?
Students at Niles High School just may find their training will influence the Ring Lardner Middle School students on ways to make the right decisions on sexual activity.
Nine high school students have received training from Lakeland Regional Health System in a new curriculum called PSI, which stands for Postponing Sexual Involvement.
During this National Teen Pregnancy Month, those students on the Teen Advisory Board for PSI took a national computerized quiz and studied ways to be more effective in their presentations to the middle school students.
The hope by the developer of the program was to prevent teen pregnancy and encourage healthy lifestyles.
The primary emphasis is on building skills which allow a teen to "say no without hurting the other person's feelings," said Margaret Clayborn, Community Outreach Representative for the Lakeland Regional Health System.
The program's purpose is to help young people develop skills to resist pressures in becoming sexually active before they are ready to make that decision, she said.
Clayborn added the PSI program is also aimed at raising the community's level of awareness of the consequences to both the economy and the adolescent's health. Parents will also be provided with the necessary information and skills to discuss these issues with their teens.
PSI was developed by Marion Howard, a professor of gynecology and obstetrics at Emory University of Atlanta as an addition to fact-based sex education in the schools.
Along with Niles, high school students from Coloma and New Buffalo were also trained through Lakeland. These team leaders will be conducting five one-hour sessions during health classes this semester.
The program also discusses the general nature of relationships and how to set limits while still expressing affection. "Emphasis is placed on individual rights in relationships and on using specific refusal skills to make responsible choices about abstinence," Clayborn said.
The programs support the Berrien County schools in teaching individuals to develop a sense of responsibility in controlling their lifestyle and in developing good decision-making skills.