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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

UNCP multi-disciplinary task force to study teen sexuality

A conversation in a UNC Pembroke classroom has led to a grant to study teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among Robeson County youth.

Rohald Meneses

Rohald Meneses

Veronica Hardy

Veronica Hardy

Black Line

Dr. Rohald Meneses, a faculty member in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, will lead the one-year study with input from UNCP’s Nursing and Social Work departments and the Robeson County Health Department. They will also formulate an education program aimed at the target population.
 
The one-year grant for $20,000 was funded by the National Institutes of Health’s Extramural Associates Research and Development Award. The pilot project targets youths from middle school through college.
 
“Many of my students, ages 18 to 21, have children and that surprised me,” Dr. Meneses said. “I proposed an informal survey, then I discussed it with the local Health Department.
 
“They confirmed that this county has a high teen pregnancy rate and a high rate of STDs also,” he said.
 
The program is titled, “Wrap it up…Be Safe; Protect Yourself from Pregnancy and STDs.” It will conduct surveys of students at local middle and high schools as well as college-aged students.
 
Three UNCP students will also be involved in surveying local students.
 
“We will select students randomly, and for the younger students, we will obtain parental consent,” Dr. Meneses said. “We will build an education program based on our findings.
 
“We need to know what is effective in such a program,” he said. “Gaining input from other disciplines will be very important in reaching our target audiences.”
 
Dr. Meneses is drawing resources from across campus, including Dr. Veronica Hardy from the Social Work Department. They met during the spring 2010 semester to discuss the pilot project.
 
“During our discussion, we explored the role of social work professionals providing educational sessions about sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy to individuals of the adolescent and early adulthood age ranges,” Dr. Hardy said. The age range targets 15- to 21-year-old youths.
 
“Our goal is to organize the group sessions according to age range, so the participants will be in similar life stages,” she said. “Dr. Meneses and I will be collaborating further this week regarding specifics around the educational sessions.  
 
“I do look forward to the process, outcomes and any influence on the knowledge base and decision-making of the individuals served,” she concluded.
 
For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Meneses at 910.521.6473 or e-mail rohald.meneses@uncp.edu.

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