Yannik McKie has seen the cycle go on for too long.
Boy and girl meet, girl gets pregnant and ends up raising a child with no home life and no father figure. That broken home, McKie says, can lead a child into crime, drugs or worse.
“The rates that our young men are going to prison is mostly because they don’t have a father in the home,” said McKie, the chief operations officer of the South Augusta Community Development Corp. “Their father did something with their mother, didn’t have a relationship and had a child. Now that child is being raised without a father.”
To show teenagers that healthy relationships are more important than sex, McKie and the community development group are holding a Let’s Talk About Sex workshop Saturday for children 12 and up.
The daylong event will have a play, concert, activities, lectures and mentoring about abstinence and dating.
McKie said he prefers the abstinence approach over contraception teaching because “there is no safe sex.” Apart from STDs and pregnancy, emotions are at stake.
To send the message, the group is having actress Reishal Cummings direct a play with the same title as the workshop. Kids will also have games and activities throughout the day to get them thinking.
The community development group has been working to expand its outreach to young people in the community. Based in Barton Chapel Village, the organization has an after-school youth mentoring and feeding program and provides GED classes and outreach for others in the community.
The goal is to intervene in young people’s lives before they fall into crime or drugs, McKie said.
He said most of the criminals entering prison today began as troubledchildren who just needed an adult to care.
With the Let’s Talk About Sex workshop, McKie and other youth leaders will try to help teens understand why they should wait for sex but still have a healthy dating relationship with someone they care about.
There will also be self-reflection activities so teens can learn more about themselves and learn how to pick a partner who is good for them.
After he started talking to kids about sex, McKie said, he found most didn’t want to take that step but were pressured into it by society making them think it was the normal thing to do.
“It’s the promotion they get from the few kids who are doing it, from the movies, the TV, the commotion that made them want to do something they weren’t prepared to do,” he said. “If the only thing somebody is hearing is the wrong thing, they don’t even know the right thing is an option.”
The message is so important, McKie said, that any family that cannot afford the $10 registration fee can be sponsored by Broadway Baptist Church for free.