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Roseville teens talk about sex, self esteem

‘Girls and Guys Day’ helps students navigate romantic relationships
By: Sena Christian, Staff Reporter
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This article is part of ongoing coverage of Roseville High School’s Peer Helping program. For previous coverage, see www.thepresstribune.com.
 

During a recent class at Roseville High School — attended solely by female freshmen — themes of self-respect and insecurities emerged as six young women shared stories about the struggles of teenaged girls.

Speaker Riley Nethercut, a senior, violently threw a Barbie doll onto the floor, criticizing the plastic toy for reflecting the unrealistic and harmful expectations young women are pressured to meet in American society. Nethercut, 17, encouraged her young peers to not change themselves just to please someone else.

“Why be anybody else besides you?” she asked. “You’re perfect.”

She told the quiet group that if they don’t love and respect themselves, they won’t find a person who will treat them with love and respect. Nethercut made her presentation as part of the “Girls Day” event on Nov. 28 hosted by students in the campus’s Peer Helping program. In an adjacent room, male freshmen participated in “Guys Day.”

A large sign on the back wall read: “The quality of the person you are is the quality of the person you will attract.” The goal of Girls and Guys Day is to encourage young women and men to value themselves and treat others with respect, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.

The lesson was largely left to a handful of Peer Helpers to lead, although teacher Valerie Erb shared personal experiences from her past that inspired in her a desire to help young women realize they are “treasures.”

“Please don’t settle for less,” Erb said.

Sex was central to the conversation, as Erb told the group that 80 percent of girls who have sex in their teen years regret doing so. She said teenagers are taught how to avoid getting pregnant and attracting a sexually transmitted infection.

“But nobody talks about the heart, about protecting what’s in you,” Erb said.

Sophomore speaker CorChe Pearson encouraged the freshmen girls to abstain from sex until they get older and are able to give their child a good life. Using a paper heart, Pearson tore off pieces to show what happens to a girl every time she has sex before she’s ready. But, she said, even if this happens, it’s possible to build yourself up again.

Senior Emily Desrochers talked about the two years she spent in a committed relationship that’s since ended and how she lost the chance to develop friendships during this time period.

“We live like 80 years, so that’s not long,” Desrochers said. “But when you’re a teenager and high school is everything, two years is a long time.”

Senior Anissa Barajas told the young women that they need to show respect to men, too. She also advised them to think twice about sending scandalous text messages to guys.

“What you don’t realize you do with those pictures, is you devalue yourself,” she said.

Halfway through the class, the girls went next door and the guys joined the female Peer Helping speakers who responded to a list of questions submitted by freshmen boys. They had such questions as why do girls wear so much makeup? Why do girls dress provocatively? Why do girls shoot down compliments?

“Because girls are insecure,” Nethercut said to the last question. “She doesn’t know she’s pretty … it’s sad, but true.”

Nethercut had begun her talk to the freshmen girls reflecting on her own struggles with insecurity.

“One thing I wish someone would have told me when I was a freshman is that every morning I’d wake up and look in the mirror and never once have I said, ‘Wow, I’m pretty.’”

The guys also asked if they should break up with a girl if she doesn’t have sex with him.

“My answer is yes,” Desrochers said. “And here’s my reasoning: because she deserves a guy who is way better than a guy who just wants her for sex.”