January 22, 2013

An Early Morning Lesson On A Well Known Subject

I spent some time this morning flipping through webpages all over the internet. Naturally, I went to my usual haunts: redOrbit and NPR. These are two of my favorite news sites. I like NPR because I can listen to many of the stories as well as read a transcript, and NPR has a variety of subjects. redOrbit is a fav of mine not just because I blog for it, but also because it focuses on science in all areas from climate to space to animals to health and so much more. Plus, both of these sites demand good, reliable information.

Today, I was caught by an article on redOrbit titled, “Sexually Transmitted Disease: What is It?” Even though I know about sexually transmitted disease (STD) due to my interest in health (and because I believe in taking responsibility for my health and my choices), I still had to click on the article. What I found was a succinct guide on how to control the risks of STDs. I am a bit torn by this. Before explaining, let me say that the majority of my reaction is supportive and positive.

First, let me get the negative pull out of the way. I feel like people should know how to prevent STDs. They should be being taught this information at home, in school, and by their doctors. I know, I know. Many schools do not teach adequate STD and sex education, but still that leaves home and doctors and surely one of those is filling in the gap, right?

Obviously, that exchange of knowledge is not happening for many people.

More important than this negative reaction, though, is the positive one. The reality is that many, many individuals, namely teenagers (definitely the ones who should receive the education), do not receive adequate education about STDs anywhere. There is no specific place to lay blame for this. Parenting is not easy, nor is the “sex talk.” Schools, specifically public schools, have a tax base to consider, and sometimes people just do not get the necessary information from doctors for whatever reason. The fact that reliable sites like redOrbit publish articles that address information like STDs means that those who do not get the talk from home, school, or doc can find the info themselves.

When an individual cannot get the necessary information about being sexually responsible from the obvious sources, great news sites like redOrbit provide information and links to other sources like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Interested individuals can find solid research and education on sensitive topics like STDs through their own research. This is definitely good and important.

Sure, I wish that we all had better information and education on sex, STDs, and sexual responsibility, but if we do not receive that education, at least we have resources available to us like this redOrbit article. It also reminds me that some of the information that might seem like it should be common knowledge (i.e. people should use condoms!) may not be to everyone. For this very reason, writing good, reliable articles (or blogs as in my case) is incredibly important. For many people around the world, the internet is where they will learn many things including things like STD prevention and treatment. Writers have a responsibility to provide reliable and correct information because of that.

As an English professor, I teach about the importance of reliable sources and information in what we write. This is most definitely a motto in my Composition I and Composition II classes. Today, redOrbit reminded me that sometimes we need that information for things that seem like we should all know it because we do not all know it, and that’s okay.

Part of a writer’s job is to provide good, correct information on their topic. Thanks to redOrbit writer Alan McStravick for reminding me of this lesson and for providing such solid information on STDs.

Image Credit: Michael Macsuga / Shutterstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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