Utilizing a community saturation approach working with schools, students, parents, and community professionals, Pure Freedom will empower youth in Northeast Missouri to avoid sexual risk.
As a parent, as a teacher, you have the right to demand the best sex education for your children or for your students. Today, there are two types of sex education commonly being taught in schools:
Between the two, SRA has consistently proved to be the most effective approach in maximizing teens’ physical and emotional health.
SRA goes beyond sexual activity as it adopts a holistic sex education approach. While its curriculum includes medical facts about anatomy, contraception, and STDs, it also focuses greatly on relationships. Teenagers receive information on subjects such as how to distinguish healthy relationships from toxic ones, consent, and self-image. All materials are age-appropriate and we encourage parents to participate in their students’ education. You can find more about the content of the Pure Freedom program right here.
In a nutshell, SRA is based on the following considerations:
Sexual Risk Avoidance (SRA) Education’s aim is to help youth thrive and stay safe. Sexual Risk Avoidance mirrors other public health models such as drug, alcohol, and smoking prevention education. In primary prevention public health models, the main focus is to eliminate the risk behavior and the negative outcomes that stem from it. To do so, students are told to stay away from unhealthy behaviors completely, and not just to use caution. Although the Sexual Risk Avoidance approach focuses on primary prevention, it recognizes some students might need intervention strategies, such as testing and treatment, and includes elements that seek to help those students as well.
SRA works. Research has systematically shown that it is the best approach when it comes to protecting youth from the negatives consequences of risky sex. A corpus of 25 peer-reviewed studies concluded that teenagers who attended SRA programs instead of SRR programs were:
In comparison, 80% of the teenagers who were only taught Sexual Risk Reduction were found to fare worse or no better, meaning that they were more vulnerable to unplanned pregnancies and STDs due to an earlier sexual initiation.
The Pure Freedom program model also focuses on relationship skill building. Students learn information on subjects such as how to distinguish healthy relationships from toxic ones, understand consent, and recognize self-worth. Our certified educators believe youth are capable of making healthy decisions when given the information to do so, such as delaying sexual initiation and treating others with respect.
Pure Freedom uses the evidence-based Real Essentials curriculum from the Center for Relationship Education. It was built on five theoretical frameworks, national health education standards, and research on healthy relationships. This curriculum is activity-based, meaning that students are actively engaged in learning activities that make the experience both fun and memorable. Each educator is certified in the curriculum model.
The Pure Freedom program approaches abuse prevention in two ways. The first is helping students to recognize abuse and providing a safe space for students to disclose events of abuse that have occurred to receive support. The second is proactive, providing education to all students to prevent abuse before it occurs. This includes education that addresses root causes for abuse perpetration, debunking media and cultural myths that normalize abusive behaviors, and discussions that actively deconstruct attitudes and beliefs that lead to intimate partner violence.
Pure Freedom approaches sensitive topics with a trauma-informed perspective, responding to those who have experienced or may be at risk for experiencing trauma. The trauma-informed approach of the curriculum includes realizing the widespread impact of trauma, recognizing the signs and symptoms in youth, families, staff, and others, and facilitating potential paths for recovery. The program responds by fully integrating knowledge about trauma into policies, procedures, and practices, seeking to actively resist re-traumatization. All program educators are certified in trauma-informed classroom instruction.
Pure Freedom also recognizes the importance of building a supportive community for youth. Pure Freedom educators are licensed facilitators for the Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children Sexual Abuse Prevention training. We offer workshops free of charge for parents, teachers, and community members in Northeast Missouri.
Positive Youth Development is an approach that suits the youth’s needs and psychology. Several youth programs and organizations such as Pure Freedom use it to serve youth and promote healthy youth development.
But how does it work?
While it is true that we cannot predict someone’s life outcome with certainty (due to a high number of variables, developmental plasticity and the individual’s own personality), there are certain “protective factors” that can help young people to succeed and stay away from trouble. In general, three elements can really make a difference. These are:
And to help youth pursue these essentials, we can use Positive Youth Development. As an intentional, prosocial approach, it revolves around recognizing, providing and engaging. It:
By doing so, it seeks to foster positive attributes in youth, which in turn will help them pursue the best outcomes for their lives.
These attributes are called “the 5 C’s” of Positive Youth Development:
As teenagers progress in those five areas, they not only become more likely to avoid risky behavior, they are also more likely to positively contribute to society.
The good news is that contrary to previous assumptions, teenagers have control over their behaviors. Early researchers saw them as inherently at risk of developing unhealthy behaviors, but we know now that they have great potential for learning and for change, mostly because of the high plasticity of their brains. The environment alone cannot predict someone’s life trajectory either. Instead, individual strengths, environment, and the 5 C’s all influence youth’s outcomes.
Researchers have evaluated many programs using the approach and the results were positive. “Youth were found to be at much lower risk of having personal, social and behavioral problems than other youth. They were less likely to smoke and drink than their peers, had better grades and were more likely to expect to attend college.” Pure Freedom is one of these programs.
As a Sexual Risk Avoidance program, Pure Freedom applies the Positive Youth Development Framework daily and effectively. We: