The curriculum I used was not actually Georgia Virtual High School’s official health class. I used a resource offered through their site which pretty much gives the information and assignments without the structure of being in a class. I found it here, and I’m going to be reviewing it today.
The health curriculum is basically what you’d expect out of a “don’t do this, don’t do that” style health curriculum. It basically says the same things you’ve been hearing since kindergarten about how disgusting drug users are and how gross cigarettes are that (somehow) don’t actually discourage anyone who’s interested in doing those things from doing those things. Nothing too revolutionary, exciting, or uplifting here. The class is divided into 7 units, which I want to review and explain individually.
Introduction to Health
This is kind of like your first day of school/class description. If you find mediocre animation that talks kind of annoying, you won’t like the random doctor character that they use on this page. Her voice is annoying, but you can mute it and just read what she says if you want. It goes faster that way.
This is your typical, run-of-the-mill, not-at-all profound or particularly useful look at mental health. The course is written (like so many other courses) under the assumption that you’re a “normal teen” with a family that may not be perfect but is overall healthy. Even though the page admits that only 80% of depression is treatable, it offers no sympathy/compassion/hope/basic acknowledgement to people in that unhappy 20% that don’t respond to treatment. It spreads that same, stale message of “if you’re suicidal it’s obviously because of chemical depression because we all know teens can’t ever be in such unsafe living situations or relationships that they feel like death is the only alternative, and we all know there aren’t any other mental health issues that can make a person want to die, and we all know that homophobia, racism, transphobia (especially from parents), and so on and so forth can’t exacerbate existing mental health problems.”
My least favorite thing about this page is that it is only relevant to the normal, well-adjusted “every teen” who might sometimes let stress get the better of her, but is ultimately fine. There are a number of topics that I actually think teenagers need to see dealt with, but that aren’t dealt with here at all.
- Self-harm. What do you do if you have a problem with it or a friend does. No, really. What do you ACTUALLY do? A friend of mine told the school counselor that one of her close friends was cutting herself, and the counselor just called the girl’s parents immediately. The parents were emotionally abusive, which was the main reason why the girl cut. She ended up in the hospital, ended up more suicidal than before, and then turned to drugs and alcohol and maybe even destructive sex when she learned that she couldn’t get away with cutting anymore. Given that that’s what can happen and that the law doesn’t really protect people from emotionally abusive parents (or most abusive parents for that matter), what do you ACTUALLY do?
- Parents with mental health disorders. What happens when your parent is basically a sociopath and won’t get help/has gotten help but hasn’t actually changed? What do you do when your parent uses his/her mental disorder as license to treat you horribly?
- Teens with PTSD. How do you deal with having sexual trauma before you even hit 18? How do you handle all your friends going nuts about sex when you never want to hear or think about it again?
- Having age-inappropriate things happen to you. When you’ve had sexual violence happen to you before high school even, you are totally isolated. You can’t tell kids your own age without “destroying their innocence” since most of them don’t even know about sex yet. How do you deal with that?
- How do you convince the messed up legal system to care if someone’s abusing you. How do you actually get results? Is there a real way besides just getting lucky?
- How does being LGBTQQIAP affect mental health? How does homophobia, transphobia, racism, and so forth affect mental health for teens? What unique resources exist for people who aren’t cis-het?
Rating: 3/10 because at least they’re moderately less victim-blaming than some resources.
Safety and First Aid
I have significantly less to say about this section. I think I would’ve liked it better if any of the videos demonstrating stuff like CPR actually worked, and I had had a chance to really get what it is supposed to look like.
Rating: 2/10 for the fact that most of it didn’t even work.
This unit was okay, I guess, but I found it a little frustrating as a vegan who is aware that the health benefits of dairy are greatly exaggerated and the health risks of eating meat are greatly minimized.
Diseases and Disease Prevention
This one made me SO upset. It started off with some b.s. about how people with mental illnesses are probably the ones doing drugs since who else would do something so irrational. That’s some saneist stuff right there. Most of the time, I think it’s actually the “super normal normies” who want to fit in and be cool who do those things, not the people with mental health problems. I think people do those things because people care more about immediate pleasure and gratification than about long-term consequences, not because they’re automatically mentally ill. This class needs to cite its sources…badly.
I thought it was good that it talked about making sure your medications are safe to take together or are safe to take with OTC pills, certain foods/drinks, certain other health conditions, etc. I also thought their advice on how to quit smoking was useful. I didn’t actually know that Nicotine patches just keep you addicted longer. I figured they had some kind of a “slow withdrawal” effect. Cold turkey is actually seriously dangerous with some things, so it was interesting to read that it’s a good way to get off cigarettes.
The alcohol page also talked about how different kinds of alcoholic beverages might have different *amounts* of alcohol in them, so one glass of beer is a different amount than 1 glass of wine.
One thing that bothered me in the alcohol section was the statement that teens who drink are more likely to have had sex than teens who don’t. It also said something about teens participating in “unplanned sex” under the influence. If you’re under the influence of alcohol, you can’t consent to sex. There’s no such thing as “unintentional sex.” You either consented to it or you didn’t. If you didn’t plan on having sex and someone just started having sex with you while you were too drunk to say “no” or give real consent, that’s rape. It’s not a teen mistake. Therefore, we shouldn’t just be shaking our heads all “tsk, look at those irresponsible sluts.” We should be talking about it more fairly than that.
Also, it’s annoying that the curriculum only shared religious programs for getting rid of alcohol addiction. I mean…come on. Alcoholics Anonymous doesn’t work for Atheists.
Also, if you care about trans issues, the language surrounding the effects of drugs on males versus females might not be your cup of tea.
Rating: 1/10. This ALMOST got 2/10 before the rape culture bullshit happened.
Family Health is code for “heteronormative abstinence-only curriculum.” I say “heteronormative” because everything is about “sexual intercourse” and not sex in general. Abstinence is defined as abstaining from “sexual intercourse,” which is going to be awfully confusing when you go on to tell people “oh wait, I forgot to tell you all other kinds of sex also put you at risk for STDs.”
The page on r*pe and sexual assault misses the fact that 1 in 6 men will also be the victims in their lifetime; it’s not just something that happens to women. I think if more of the dude-bro-ish men actually realized this, they might be less reluctant to care about the issue. It’s a bunch of victim-blaming stuff that suggests being drunk/not being assertive enough/etc. are risk factors. No, the risk factor is a rapist being around. A non-rapist won’t take advantage of those things. The page also assumes that all abusers are male, which is wrong. Ugh. Terrible resource! It also conveniently forgets to tell people that only “yes” means “yes” and teach people how not to commit rape rather than just how not to get raped.
I did like part of the page on relationship violence. It talked about how a partner threatening to find someone who will do what they want if you won’t. My ex didn’t like…come right out and say that, but there were a lot of implications, and in the end, I got hit with an ultimatum of “do more or it’s over.” People sided with my ex, so I didn’t realize that could count as abusive. Good info.
There’s also a huge bias toward “waiting until you’re married” so you’ll never have to worry about unwanted pregnancy or STDs. Uhm…do these people think you can’t end up with an unwanted pregnancy or an STD when you’re married? WTF.
Rating: 0/10, screw this.