Not having the facts about sex can lead to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases -- or STDs -- among teens. More than 46 percent of teens admitted to having sex, according to a 2013 survey by the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Educational activities that focus on the facts can help students to make healthy decisions. From role play games to research reports, teens can develop a more mature way of thinking about sex and stop the spread of STDs.
Role Play Making Good Choices
Role playing uses the context of a real social situation to make the students think about the impact of the decisions they make. This type of activity helps students to better understand the transmission and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. While you don't want to create graphic role play situations, you can help students to learn about STDs with a mock scene. Separate students into groups of three with one playing the doctor, another playing the person who finds out he has an STD and a third playing that person's partner. Discuss handling this scenario with maturity. Ask the students to think about how they would feel if the situation was real. After the role play, have the class talk about how true to life the scene was and what they learned from it about the impact of STDs.
Create a Lingo Game Show
Students with little to no knowledge of sexual education may not understand the vocabulary associated with STDs. Create a vocabulary chart for the students and include the names of common STDs such as HIV/AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea, HPV, syphilis and trichomoniasis. After discussing the diseases, have students write definitions on their charts. Allow them to use their own words. Ask them to include who can get the disease, how it's identified and how it's treated. If the disease name is an acronym, have the students write out what the letters stand for. Turn the lesson into a game show-themed activity by using the Jeopardy answer-question format. Write down the STD symptoms, definitions or abbreviations on individual pieces of card stock paper. Hold them up and have the students ring bells to answer. For example, the paper may say, "This is a virus that causes genital sores." The answer must be in the form of a question such as, "What is herpes?"
Show the Statistics By the Numbers
Play a game of "fact" or "fiction" to help the students separate what is true from what is false about STDs. This can help the information that you've presented to sink in and show what the students are retaining. After discussing what STDs are, the symptoms and transmission, give the students the statistics. For example, in 2012, 30 percent of chlamydia cases were in teens ages 15 though 19 and 39 percent were in 20- to 24-year-olds, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Make two decks of cards. One will have true facts and statistics and the other will have fictional ones. Divide the students into two teams. Give each team a bell. Hold up a card and read it out loud. The team must discuss whether it is fact or fiction, and then ring the bell to answer. The first team to ring in with the correct answer gets a point. The team with the most points at the end wins.
Demonstrate How Diseases Spread
Sexually transmitted diseases are infections that are spread from person to person. Show your students how quickly an STD can spread by writing the name of a disease onto two index cards. Hand each card to a student and ask him to write his name on it. Tell each student who has a card to walk over to two more people. Have both of these students write their names on the card. Give the students who write their names down cards of their own. Have each of those four students approach two new people and write their names down. Instruct all of the students to sit again. Ask everyone who wrote their name down on a card to stand. This demonstrates how quickly an infection can spread from one couple to another and so on.
- U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, and Teen Pregnancy Prevention
- Learn NC: STDs: You Have to Know
- University of Colorado Denver: Birds, Bees and STDs
- Advocates for Youth: Role-Playing
- U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Reported STDs in the United States, 2012 National Data for Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis
- Avert: Lesson and Activity Plans Learning Facts About AIDS
- TeensHealth: About Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.