Teens Talk Straight Up about SEX at Sullivan House

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The Sullivan House, one of our Alternative School partners, located on the South Side of Chicago, is filled with aspiring, intelligent adolescents. The size of the building is small compared to other alternative high school, but that does not hinder the amount of activity that takes place inside these walls. The pride in themselves and their community was evident when you see all the Bulldog memorabilia (their mascot) hung throughout the school. The school focuses is on providing a safe environment for all who enter their doors.

Jon, the video instructor at Sullivan House, recently graduated from Columbia College Chicago and is well versed in the language of media and communicating the important opportunities it can create. Last semester, the students made community maps consisting of the challenges faced in different communities, such as bullying, rap communities, teen pregnancy, drugs, and domestic abuse. This semester, students were getting down to the task of working on their first video project—–a documentary.

One of the challenges that rose to the top was teen pregnancy, particularly the topic of protection. Students discussed the topic of protection. Many of the girls expressed the importance of protection and that they wouldn’t engage in sexual relations without any form of protection. The boys of the group didn’t have as strong of stand on protection, but they did share he belief of protection. When asked why they thought teen pregnancies and STDs are so prevalent, one female student shared, “People are aware of risks but when it comes down to the moment, they don’t think it will happen to them.” Another female gave this perspective, “Some people don’t care because they didn’t have a correct way of being raised.” She elaborated by explaining that the “correct way of being raised” means individuals learn from their parents, they learn self-respect and self-care, which translate over into the way they perceive others. Not “hav(ing) a correct way of being raised” causes people to not care about themselves. When individuals don’t care about themselves, they usually lack concern for others.

The students at the Sullivan House had a very insightful way of looking at teen pregnancy, sex, and an individuals’ character. From their conversations, they brainstormed topics for their documentary, including: domestic abuse, drugs, and teen sex. This kind of critical thinking about real issues in teens’ lives is at the heart of CTVN’s pedagogy: teaching youth how to tell their stories in their own way, using video production.

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