The Tribe Times

Knowledge of healthy relationships crucial to students’ well-being

Audrey Iorio, Editor

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Healthy relationships are greatly affected by one prominent factor: how to deal with desire.

Generally, as a human being, there will be some sort of drive to form relationships with other individuals, whether that drive is friendly, platonic, or even sexual.

Because of this drive, it is rather important for one to have healthy relationships with others. As thenationshealth.org puts it, relationships that are healthy help one to build self-esteem and improve crucial factors to one’s well-being, such as mental health.

“The goal of a relationship is to build each other up and respect each other,” said Katie Booth, junior. “A relationship is not meant for boosting your own social status. A relationship is meant to teach you new life lessons and how to grow with yourself, or boyfriend or girlfriend. It’s all about being there for each other and helping each other through life.”

The separation of love and lust – which remain to be two solidly different emotions – is not nearly as drastic as some may have believed; the two originate in the same location in the brain, according to a study done by Concordia University in Montreal in 2012. The Huffington Post reported this study, noting that the area in which the emotions overlap is the insular cortex (also known as the insula) and the striatum.

“There’s a difference between ‘lust’ and ‘love’,” Booth said. “Most kids our age seem to get those two (feelings) confused.”

The striatum is the portion of the brain that receives messages from the cerebral cortex (another part of the brain) over memory, emotions, and other related functions. In other words, it’s an emotional area, and it is affected by both love and lust.

The ventral striatum, which is signified by emotion and motivation, is the part that lust activates. Love, on the other hand, activates the area associated with decision-making, and even drug addiction, the dorsal striatum.

Developing an emotional attachment to another person is widely inevitable, and rather common as human beings.

“Catching feelings for someone is bound to happen,” Booth said.

With standard emotions generally comes the sexual drive – although it is different for each individual person. Understanding how to control one’s own desires, and how to make decisions that are safe and right for oneself, are incessantly vital to the health of a relationship.

“With this understanding, comes less unwanted pregnancies, rape, and a safe environment for students,” said Abby Berger, senior and cofounder of Gay Straight Alliance.

Including Berger, there are many who believe that a course over sexual education would be a beneficial one to offer at SHS.

This type of course would create, “education and understanding,” as Berger noted.

“I had learned by Googling on the internet which, as we know, is not reliable and can lead to receiving false information, and that can lead to someone’s life being ruined, all because they weren’t properly educated,” Berger said.

There are different stances on the usage of the internet to learn this information, of course.

“I’m neutral on (a sexual education course) because there is nothing the internet can’t solve,” said Jack Green, junior. “I think students would treat it just like any other class (if it were to be a class).”

The hesitation to introduce a sexual education course at SHS lies heavily on the aspect of the maturity of a high schooler, as was mentioned by both Rochelle Sinclair, Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, and Taylor Middleton, health and physical education teacher.

“I know it’s a little late for a lot of people, but I think a college freshman course would be more age-appropriate,” said Sinclair.

While the bottom line is the angle of maturity, Middleton was less concerned with the thought of the students behaving in a juvenile manner, and focused more instead on whether or not they were ready for this sort of course based on how ready they were to include their parents.

“I think the parents should be involved. If the kid’s unwilling to involve their parents, then I think they’re probably not ready,” said Middleton.

There is, however, a slight conflict with this sense of maturity: the age of consent.

In the state of Missouri, it is entirely legal for a person of 14 years of age to have sexual relations with another person, as long as that second party is under 21 years of age. If someone in the relationship is above 21 years of age, though, it is only legal for them to partake in actions of a sexual nature if their partner is 17 years of age or older, as stated by LegalMatch, a website containing information attributed by lawyers and attorneys.

In other words, it is entirely possible for adolescents to be having legal sex as young as 14-years-old.

While this doesn’t guarantee that they are, it makes the aspect of maturity just that much more confusing – these kids may not be the most mature, but they are able to be doing these very mature actions. The lack of a sexual education course is giving them no forewarning about what they must be cautious of and how to do things safely, unless they have a parent or another experienced individual to enlighten them, as advocatesforyouth.org puts it. The site says that, “Young people need honest, effective sex education.”

“If [my parents] hadn’t , and I’d relied on the school system, I wouldn’t know about these things, especially safe sex and age of consent,” Berger said.

In the state of Missouri, if this type of course is introduced to the curriculum, the National Conference of State Legislatures enforces that it is required that the information is medically accurate, age appropriate, and that abstinence must be covered; because of this, students would only be receiving unbiased, factual, and accurate information over the subject at hand.

Sexual education courses are also put in place to go beyond the sex factor; the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States emphasizes that they also take on emotional relations/responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, the age of consent, gender roles, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence. The key components to a healthy relationship would, therefore, be a factor to this course.

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