In an effort to break down the communication barriers between parents and teens, the Multnomah County STARS Program is teaming up with Portland State University to produce an educational DVD about teen sexuality.
The STARS Program, or "Students Today aren't Ready for Sex," uses an abstinence-based approach toward sexual education. Program Manager Kathy Norman said STARS partners with local schools to provide education; local schools determine whether to include contraceptive or reproductive health curriculums.
Norman will co-host several community forums with the PSU students to help determine the direction and content for the yet-to-be produced DVD. The DVD will aim to provide parents with tools to help them communicate with their teen and pre-teen sons and daughters about dating, sexual involvement and decision-making.
"We want to be able to look at information from the local level, review research and take a look at what is culturally appropriate," Norman said.
She said they will specifically seek input about what works and what is needed when it comes to talking to their children about sex.
Jan Haakin, professor of psychology at PSU, said the perspective her students bring to the table can often bring about a balance between teenagers and parents.
"They've recently come out of the struggles and confusion of adolescence themselves," she said.
The PSU students can also help by asking themselves what they wished adults had told them when they were going through puberty.
Instead of providing a set list of talking points for all parents, Norman hopes the DVD will help parents pursue their own agendas based upon their personal beliefs and values.
"You may communicate this set of beliefs, while someone else may communicate a different set of beliefs," she said.
With such a controversial topic as teen sexuality, Haakin said the forums – which will be held for both teens and parents – can help produce better dialogue between different generations.
The first focus group took place on Jan. 24, but another meeting is scheduled at 7 p.m. Jan. 31 in Grace and Truth Church, 420 S.E. 22nd Ave.
Norman said many unknowns exist about the kind of feedback the community might provide.
"We're not sure how (the programs) will be attended," she said.
Once community feedback is considered, PSU students will have until the end of their term to produce the DVD. The STARS program then will distribute it to parents.