The S Word Project is a new sex education initiative created by Chicago resident Erin Thompson that is designed to create a safe discussion space for teens to talk openly about sex in the presence of experts.
During their conference held last weekend, The S Word Project posed a thought-provoking question: Can sex education for teens help curb the violence that seems to be plaguing the city? According to TSWP, there are two issues at play: The first issue is statistics show a high percentage of crimes are committed by offenders who come from single-parent or emotionally or financially broken homes. And the second issue is teen pregnancy linked to single-parent homes and high incarceration rates due to most teens being too young to effectively teach their child(ren) to grow up properly. The ideology is that if there were a prevention program for latter issue, then it could possibly help curb the former issue.
Thompson created The S Word Project to help bring such prevention to Chicago area teens. Open to teens ages 14 to 19, the one-day conference was put together to connect teen behavior in the “real world” and their sexual experiences to help reduce teen crime.
To help make this event a success, Thompson enlisted the help of world-renowned AIDS activist, keynote speaker Rae Lewis-Thornton; and several other Chicago notables and teen pregnancy and prevention experts in the psychology, health care, social work and many other career fields. Experts discussed a variety of topics including STDs, maintaining virginity, baby momma drama, abstinence and overcoming sexual trauma. Teens were able to walk away with a wealth of information, access to resources, and a more powerful connection to their own sexuality.
Thompson knows firsthand about the importance of having access to resources and information about sex from honest sharing adults:
“When I was 17, I had an abortion that no one knew about. I woke up one morning, got on the train to the clinic to have the procedure, got back on the train and went to school to pick up my cap and gown, and then I went home to pretend that I had a very bad stomachache. I had a scholarship to college and a great life. My parents were active in the community and I did not want to negatively impact their reputation so I said nothing to anyone who could have made a difference.
“I was ashamed and damaged from the experience. The truth is that I did not have a safe space to talk about my issues. I had always been told not to have sex and to wait until I was married for sex but was never educated on what to do if I did it anyway. I don’t want teens in our world today to go through what I’ve been through alone. I’ve created The ‘S’ Word Project to destigmatize sex and to make it so a lot of mistakes can be avoided. My goal is not to encourage or discourage sexual activity but to be a resource for the teens that are inevitably thinking about it and needing to grasp the impact sex could have on their lives,” she says.
For more information on The S Word Project, see their Go Fund Me page by clicking here.
Check out photos from The S Word Project’s 2014 conference in the photo gallery below.