GRAND CROSSING — The third annual Building Bold Innovative Partnerships to Prevent and Reduce Sexually Transmitted Infections/HIV Among Youth will examine among other things how violence could lead to youths to engage in dangerous sex.
Researchers at the University of Chicago "have found that community violence can a play a role in youths' sexual behavior," said Julie Jung, a spokeswoman for the university's School of Social Service Administration, which is co-sponsoring the event. "The target group we our focusing on is at-risk youths from junior high to high school seniors."
The free event is open to the public from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday at the Gary Comer Youth Center, 7200 S. Ingleside Ave. Lunch will be served and the South Shore Drill Team will also perform. Online registration is required.
According to data from the Chicago Department of Health, the majority of cases of gonorrhea and chlamydia reported in 2012 in Englewood, West Englewood, Grand Crossing and Auburn Gresham involved people between 13 and 29 years old.
Panelists including TV personality Robin Robinson will lead discussions.
"When I did the series about the true epidemic of HIV and STDs among youth in Chicago, I was astounded by the numbers," Robinson said. "African American youth in particular are incredibly vulnerable. [And] we are to blame for failing to educate our kids."
Another panelist, U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-7th), agreed with Robinson when she said children must be educated about sexually transmitted infections. Davis was a high school counselor for a now defunct alternative high school from 1962-1968.
"Health education should be taught at schools. It should be a normal part of our school education," Davis said. "This conference is an excellent way to teach our youth about this problem we have with unprotected sex. I have found that people have tendency to learn what they live and live what they've learned."
Either way, Robinson said, youths need to make smarter choices in life.
"Risky behavior is also the result of youth that see no reason to plan for tomorrow," she said.