April 20, 2006
ROMNEY ANNOUNCES AWARD OF ABSTINENCE EDUCATION CONTRACT
Healthy Futures program will reach 9,000 middle school students over the next two years
Governor Mitt Romney today announced that Healthy Futures, a health program that promotes the benefits of abstinence, has been awarded the contract to manage the state's abstinence education program for middle school students.
Romney made the announcement at Boston Latin School, where Healthy Futures runs a successful abstinence education program.
Federal funding for the contract is provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and is administered by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Healthy Futures will receive $300,000 for FY06 and $500,000 for FY07 to provide a voluntary program of abstinence education for participating schools. Massachusetts has been receiving federal funds for abstinence education since 1998, but this contract represents the first time the state will be applying the money to classroom-based programming.
The program is expected to reach 9,000 students over the next two years.
"In my service as Governor, I've never had anyone complain to me that their kids are not learning enough about sex in school. However, a number of people have asked me why it is that we do not speak more about abstinence as a safe and preventive health practice," said Romney.
"Abstinence education gives young people the support they need in making the decision to postpone sexual activity until they are mature enough to handle the emotional, moral and financial responsibilities of parenthood," he said. "This is more than teaching kids to say no – it will help them preserve self-esteem and build character."
The Healthy Futures abstinence education initiative is a classroom-based program serving students in communities with high numbers of teen births. The goal of the program is to help 12 to 14 year olds avoid adolescent pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
"Healthy Futures is pleased to be able expand our abstinence education program in Massachusetts," said Rebecca Ray, Program Director for Healthy Futures. "These new funds will enable us to equip more students across the state to make and sustain decisions to postpone sex and avoid the social and health consequences of early sexual activity."
Healthy Futures will launch the program in May of this year and classes will run through June of 2007.
"We know that young people feel enormous pressure to engage in all kinds of risky behaviors and helping them avoid pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and other serious consequences of high-risk choices is, simply put, good public health policy," said Paul Cote Jr., Commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The Healthy Futures program covers teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, healthy relationships, boundaries and refusal skills, and substance use and its impact on sexual choices. Students also participate in peer-to-peer education with student educators who have a thorough understanding of sexual health issues and the skills necessary to encourage abstinence among their peers. There is also a parental education component through literature and parent sessions.