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It's That Time Again — Back to School

October 2011
By: Sherry Camelleri

Parents have been busy securing school supply lists, organizing clothing, and shopping for necessary items to prepare their children for a new school year. Activity forms must be completed and special equipment purchased. Perhaps a basic physical and proof of insurance coverage along with registration fees were necessary. Schedules needed to be adjusted and organized to prevent conflicts. Transportation is always a consideration. Many areas need to be addressed in preparation for a new school year.


JUST AS IMPORTANT AS THE PREGNANCY TEST IS THE NEED TO TALK WITH SOMEONE

For students, thoughts may turn to summer activities — replaying in their minds choices, relationships, and experiences that consumed their time out of school. In the process, they may realize that certain choices and activities present a concern not on the minds of their parents. Just how many parents would think of securing a pregnancy test for their daughter (or their son's girlfriend) as part of the "back to school" preparation process?

From mid-August through the end of September, students of varying ages enter our door requesting a pregnancy test. It seems to be part of the "back to school" preparation routine. It is at this time that the possible impact of choices made in celebration of July 4th or time out of the classroom is realized.

There seems to be a clear connection of heightened sexual activity to specific holidays — Christmas, Valentines Day, the anniversary of when the couple met, and the beginning of sexual activity as individuals may be more vulnerable during these times. The summer months — filled with social activities — has a place as we consider the risks young people face. The extended time out of school seems to add to the already overwhelming pressure to engage in sexual activity.

In most two-parent families, both parents are busy working or otherwise engaged. The single parent may be working outside the home, overwhelmed financially, and emotionally spent. Add to this mix the reality that young people cannot be supervised 24/7, and the result might be an extreme amount of pressure placed on the student with regard to sexual activity. The pressure may be just as great for the male as it is for the female. The influence of other males or females does not appear to decrease during the summer months.

On their own, young girls — with or without their boyfriend — enter our doors asking for a pregnancy test as part of their "back to school" preparation. At times, we have had groups of four or five girls, all around the same age, come for pregnancy tests. On more than one occasion, some were disappointed that they would not have their pregnancy tests all at the same time.

As the volunteers individually meet with the girls seeking a pregnancy test in preparation for "back to school," it is a wonderful opportunity — often God moments occur. This is a time of educating and informing our young people of God's plan — choices, behavior, and consequences. Why would they come to a pregnancy center when they can pick up a pregnancy test at the store? We have found that just as important as the pregnancy test is the need to talk with someone — an individual who really cares about them and will demonstrate that concern by listening and answering their questions.

While securing a pregnancy test for a daughter may not be on the list of the average parent, it may just be one of the necessary things a young person addresses. At the pregnancy center, we are presented with the challenge of speaking the truth in love to a student who may be scared of the pregnancy test results, afraid to face their parent/s, or uncertain about their future plans to go to college.


MANY QUESTIONS AND ISSUES BEYOND THE PREGNANCY TEST MAY NEED TO BE ADDRESSED

Many questions and issues beyond the pregnancy test may need to be addressed — possible STDs, broken trust with parents, pressure to continue in sexual activity, abuse within the relationship, and the spiritual aspect of sin. The student may be overwhelmed. With the help of the pregnancy center volunteer, the student will go back to school better prepared to face the challenges of the world in which they live and the pressure to be sexually active. They will be equipped to say "no" and realize they have made an informed decision based on God's plan for their life.

Should the pregnancy test be positive, the student has the opportunity for the pregnancy center volunteer to walk with them on this journey — they are not alone. This is a time to demonstrate and live out what we believe before the student, her boyfriend, friends, and family. The challenges and opportunities are multifaceted and reach far beyond the walls of the pregnancy center building.

So, as we think about the new school year, may we as a pregnancy board member, center director, staff, or volunteer realize the opportunities before us. "Back to school" may involve more than purchasing the list of supplies designated by the teacher — it may involve securing a pregnancy test at the local pregnancy center.


Sherry Camelleri is the Executive Director of Mercy Community Crisis Pregnancy Center, Reading, Pennsylvania. She says, "Serving at Mercy is the most wonderful, challenging, and rewarding opportunity that I have been blessed to encounter. Sherry can be reached by e-mail at mercyccpc@dejazzd.com.



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