By Belinda Serrano, Sweetwater Reporter Staff Writer -
Some eye-opening results coupled with some optimistic responses are being discovered following the SISD's "Aim For Success" abstinence education program. The data taken from the 788 SISD students that completed and submitted the survey was compared to results from over 80,000 students nationwide who were surveyed during the 2009-10 school year through the Aim for Success initiative. The survey was broken down by gender into four age groups: 11-12 year olds, 13-14 year olds, 15-16 year olds and 17-19 year olds. The majority of those submitting a survey were 13 & 14 year olds, with 145 guys and 146 girls. Barely trailing was the 15 & 16 year old demographic with 117 guys and 133 girls. Eleven and twelve year olds followed with 54 guys and 74 girls completing the survey. The minority came from the 17-19 year old bracket, with 53 guys and 66 girls responding.
On a positive note, a majority of the students (66%) surveyed rated the presentation as "excellent". 27% of students cited the program as "good", while 5% called it "fair" and only 2% deemed it as "poor". The following results, however, show some alarming behavior among Sweetwater's youth. When asked "Have you ever had sex before?", over 70% of SISD students age 17-19 said yes. With the guys at 77% and girls at 71%, both numbers come in above the national average of 66%. Also above the national average were 16-18 year olds, coming in at 44% for boys and a whopping 60% for girls. The national average in this age ranges stands at 36% and 35%, respectively. The numbers take a drastic drop from that point for 13 & 14 year olds, with 10% of boys and 12% of girls surveyed admitting to having sex before. While the guys' numbers came in below average (10%), the girls were 2% over the national average. No students surveyed in the youngest demographic--11 and 12 year olds--were reported as ever having sex before.
The following question, "Have you had sex in the last 6 months?" also ushered in some shocking statistics. 72% of 17-19 year old SISD guys and 62% of girls in the same age group answered yes. A drop in 15 & 16 year olds in the school district is presented, but half of the girls questioned (50%) and 32% of 15 & 16 year old boys said yes.  A steep tumble is recorded for 13 & 14 year olds in SISD, with only 5% of girls and 8% of boys answering yes. No 11 & 12 year olds in the school district said they had sex in the past six months.
A brief light of optimism was shown when asked "Will you wait until marriage to have sex?" Out of the 788 SISD students surveyed, 54% said yes. 15% said no, while 31% answered "not sure". Among the 252 sexually active students in the school district, however, only 21% said they would wait until marriage for sex. More than a third (37%) said no, and almost half (42%) said they were not sure.
The final question had outstanding results, as 88% of SISD students responded yes to "Have you learned anything new as a result of the presentation?", equating to almost 700 students (693). "Aim for Success" was presented to SISD middle and high schoolers on May 12, 2011, with an informative parent meeting held the previous day. Following the presentations on making responsible sexual choices, surveys were given and results were compiled by Stacey Sheehan, Data Entry Coordinator with Aim for Success. In light of the results, Sweetwater ISD Superintendent Mr. Terry Pittman stated, “Although this information deals with the personal lives of our students rather than academic, we feel certain that the parents appreciate support with these difficult and extremely pertinent teen topics.” Kathy Smartt, Assistant Superintendent of Sweetwater ISD, added, “We were so excited and encouraged that the Aim for Success Parent Meeting was so well attended. The partnership between the parents and the school is so important for the total success of our students.”
The Aim for Success abstinence program was made possible for presentation to SISD through generous donations throughout the community. Among the various community donors, SISD would like to thank John McPherson in gathering the funds and bringing the program to the school district.