DIVA TV Review

Journal of HIV/AIDS Prevention & Education for Adolescents & Children__

November 1997 p.168-170 Haworth Press Inc, Binghamton,NY.

Review : Peer Education Not Fear Education

reviewed by Martha J. Tweed, College of Social Work, San Jose State University

Peer Education, Not Fear Education
compares a reality-based approach in teaching young people about AIDS and sexuality with that of the fear based approach heavily promoted by the religious right over the past five years. Preference is placed on utilizing peers as educators to provide young people with both the knowledge and skills they will need to protect themselves. It is generally accepted that most teens obtain their information about sexuality from peers. Although approximately 85 percent of parents support sex education in the schools and even more support AIDS education, most school settings are not addressing the need to provide both accurate information and social skills. According to a 1992 report prepared by The American Association of University Women (AAUW), schools provide inadequate education on sexuality and healthy development, despite national concern about teen pregnancy, the AIDS crisis, and the increase of sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents. Adolescent females are especially at risk. Although in the adult population AIDS is nine times more prevalent in men than in women, the same is not true for young people. According to a District of Columbia study, the rate of HIV infection for girls was almost three times that of boys.

This 27 minute video narrated by Kathleen Payne begins by examining the traditional fear-based curriculum supported primarily by the Christian Coalition. Film clips demonstrate presentations by educators from the religious right attempting to deter adolescents from engaging in sexual activity by scaring them into abstinence. Messages include equating condom usage with "Russian roulette," condoms are said to be an ineffective method of protection because they "tear and break." In actuality, if used properly, condoms are 10,000 times safer than unprotected sex. The fear-based approach is rooted in religious morality, i.e., having sex outside of marriage is immoral. It is also based on the fallacy that presenting information on sexuality to adolescents will result in sexual activity. The Teen-Aid program in Jacksonville, Florida is presented as one example of a fear-based curriculum. This program, adopted by the school board, has an "abstinence only" focus with an emphasis on restoring &