Recently in Teens Category
Dec 09 2013Changing the Conversation in Latino Families: One Family at a Time
My daughter is nearly two and one half years old and since the day I gave birth I have thought about how I will discuss sex and relationships with her. Sounds crazy, huh? I don't think so. These last two years have flown by and I know that I have to be prepared to answer those questions when the time comes. To a certain extent, I'm lucky that I will be prepared because it is part of my job. I have been in public health for over 13 years and recently I became the Director of Partnerships at The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Ironically enough, the first two reports I read during my first two weeks on the job had to do with communication between Latino parents and their teen children.
Recently, Child Trends released two research briefs, When Sex and Dating are the Same: Latinos' Attitudes on Teen Parenthood and Contraception and Let's (Not) Talk about Sex: Communication and Teen Pregnancy Prevention Within Hispanic Families, that focused on the challenges that Latino parents and their teen children face in having those conversations. What I read resonated because I was one of those teens who found it difficult to speak to my mom about sex and relationships. Many of my Latina and Latino friends faced the same issue.
Like the teens in the study, we wanted to speak to our parents. We wanted to tell them that we respected the values they passed on but things have changed and we needed their help to make good decisions. Most of us could not find a way to start the conversation. As I got older, I realized that my mom, like the parents in the study, wanted to have a conversation with me that went beyond "do not have sex," "do not get pregnant," and "kissing boys leads to other things." The same things teens and parents in the study reported hearing and saying.
The National Campaign knows that Latino families want to have these conversations and it is these conversations that will continue the declines in the teen pregnancy and teen birth rates. This is why we partnered with Dr. Vincent Guilamo-Ramos of the Center for Latino Adolescent and Family Health (CLAFH) to expand the use of Families Talking Together (FTT), an innovative intervention designed to help parents speak to their sons and daughters about delaying sex. Together with CLAFH, The National Campaign is testing the use of promotores de salud to deliver FTT to 500 families in California. Results of the testing won't be available until next year but the use of promotores in implementing FTT addresses some of the challenges identified by the briefs in bringing this information to, and opening the lines of communication between, Hispanic parents and their children.
As for me, I'm looking forward to using this resource as I know that my husband and I will be the biggest influence on my daughter's future decisions about sex. That is why I commit to build a trusting relationship with her so we can talk about sex, contraception, and our family's values at the appropriate times and help to change the conversation about sex and contraception in the Latino community.
Dec 03 2013A Pause and a Party
Gentle and loyal readers of this space know the following by heart: Teen pregnancy and birth rates are at historic lows. Thanks to teens themselves, since peaking in the early 1990s, teen pregnancy is down 42% and the teen birth rate is down 52%. There has been impressive progress in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups. That, my friends, deserves a pause and a party and that is exactly what we are doing today.
The National Campaign is holding an event today at the Newseum in Washington, DC, to celebrate one of the nation's great success stories of the past two decades--the truly remarkable, off-the-charts declines in teen pregnancy and childbearing. We hope that you will be there in person. If not, join us virtually following the hashtag #52percent. (See what we did there? Clever huh?)
As part of the thanks teens celebration, we are releasing some new materials including estimates on the public costs of teen childbearing, new public opinion survey data, and brand new PSAs developed in partnership with BET, the Ad Council, and Havas Worldwide.
Costs of Teen Childbearing.
Reducing teen pregnancy not only improves the well-being of children, youth, and families, it saves taxpayer dollars. Teen childbearing in the United States cost taxpayers (federal, state, and local) at least $9.4 billion in 2010, according to an updated analysis we are releasing today. These public sector costs would have been even higher had it not been for the roughly 50% decline in the U.S. teen birth rate between 1991 (the peak year for teen childbearing) and 2010. The estimated national savings to taxpayers in 2010 alone due to the substantial decline in the teen birth rate between 1991 and 2010 was $12 billion.
The overwhelming majority of teens say they don't want to get pregnant or cause a pregnancy. That is reason enough--gracious plenty enough as my grandmother used to say--to help young people navigate their teen years absent pregnancy. For those unmoved by the personal, there is the public. The steep public costs associated with teen childbearing are just one reason why policymakers and others should not let their foot off the gas when it comes to investing in preventing teen pregnancy.
Greatest Story Never Told.
You know that teen pregnancy and childbearing are at historic lows. Duh. Most adults, however, do not. It seems that when it comes to teens, sex, and pregnancy, most adults see little more than a blur of bare midriffs. In fact, fully 49% of adults inaccurately believe the nation's teen pregnancy rate has increased over the past two decades, according to new survey data also released today by The National Campaign. Just 18% of adults believe the teen pregnancy rate has declined.
The Buttered Biscuit.
It wouldn't be a party without laughter. We hope some new PSAs just might do the trick. Several new PSAs about preventing unplanned pregnancy, including the still-high rates of pregnancy and childbearing among those age 18-19, are also being released today. Featuring funny and endearing scenarios about awkward birth control conversations (trust me, they are...well... really funny and really endearing), the new spots remind teens and young adults that moments like these shouldn't stop them from getting important information about birth control.
Nov 21 2013Implementation Matters
So much of public policy work focuses on passing legislation and securing funding for programs. Less attention is typically paid to the less sexy but equally important task of figuring out how programs are carried out once they're passed and funded.
When it comes to preventing teen pregnancy, there have been game-changing developments on the legislative funding front. In 2010, Congress enacted two complementary federal funding streams for evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), administered by the Office of Adolescent Health (OAH), provides $105 million annually for five-year competitive grants to a range of organizations, most of which are to replicate a variety of models already proven to change teens' behavior. The Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP), administered by the Administration on Children and Families (ACF), provides $75 million annually for five years. Most of the PREP funds consist of formula grants to states and territories, also to replicate effective programs.
There is a growing commitment on the part of public and private sector funders to invest dollars in programs that work, and the TPPP and PREP grants are leading the way. While it is too early to have outcomes from the programs, two new reports shed important light on how these programs are being implemented and the picture so far looks rosy.
A report by the Bridgespan Group describes how OAH selected the evidence-based programs and grantees (a process they describe as being as competitive as getting into Yale or Cal Tech!), and provided high-quality program support. It gives high marks to OAH and the grantees for their efforts to ensure that effective programs are being implemented "with fidelity" to the original model. While not always easy, this increases the chance that programs will achieve similar positive outcomes to the original evaluation. The report underscores the importance of providing adequate planning time, training, and resources to "do evidence based programs right."
A second report, by Mathematica Policy Research, looks at how states have gone about implementing PREP, including 1) who to serve, 2) how to reach them, 3) where services will be provided, and 4) what evidence-based programs to use. The report contains a slew of fascinating details about the decisions states made and what these important grants look like in communities across the country. Not surprisingly, there is considerable variation among states since the program offers quite a bit of flexibility to respond to local circumstances. However, some common themes emerge: a strong commitment to using programs that work, targeting funds to high-risk youth, and making thoughtful decisions to make the most of available resources. Again, the report highlights the commitment to providing solid program support and infrastructure to ensure high-quality results.
Together, these reports confirm that TPPP and PREP are well on their way to helping more than 400,000 young people avoid teen pregnancy. They also serve as excellent models of how to implement evidence-based programs on a large scale.
Kudos to the federal agencies, grantees, and the various organizations helping grantees to implement the programs well. Now, let's make sure Congress continues funding them so these impressive efforts can continue.
Nov 12 2013Global and Local: Thank you, birth control!
Sarah Craven is a really smart friend of mine who also happens to be Chief of the Washington Office of the United Nations Population Fund, so our professional lives cross. Sort of. Sarah spends her life thinking about reproductive and maternal health issues in places like Malawi and the Congo. My central focus is collecting good data on and promoting a conversation about birth control in the United States. But we care about the same things--advocating for the rights and well-being of women and girls so that everyone gets to choose if and when to have children. Thanks Sarah for saying "Thanks, Birth Control" today and in the tireless work you do every day.
At the ripe old age of 37, I gave birth to my oldest daughter. This was deemed a "geriatric pregnancy" and later in the pregnancy I was informed I had an "incompetent cervix" all leading me to believe that some new, less demeaning maternal terminology was in order.
Thanks to birth control, however, I was able to have my first child when I was at the right stage in my life to be a parent. I had already seen the world, married my soul mate, graduated from law school, paid off my student loans and bought my first home. I was ready to be a mother, the most important, wonderful, and nerve-wracking of all of my life accomplishments to date.
My daughter is now 14, a high school freshman, with the world as her oyster. Her biggest decisions are how to fit in one more AP credit or what to wear to the homecoming dance. And when she is ready, my daughter will have the information and services she needs to avoid an unplanned pregnancy so she can have the same opportunities that I had to finish her education and tackle the world before she has to tackle changing diapers.
Unfortunately, not all 14 year old girls are so lucky. The high rate of adolescent pregnancy globally is the focus of a new United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population report, Motherhood in Childhood, Facing the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy. Country-by-country data found in the report shows the disproportionately high pregnancy rates among young girls globally in rural and impoverished areas of developing countries, as well as in higher income countries.
In developing countries, 7.3 million girls under 18 give birth each year, with two million of these births to girls age 14 and younger. High rates of adolescent births persist among developed countries--including the United States, which has the highest rate of adolescent births among higher income countries at 31 births per 1,000 teen girls annually.
This premature entry into motherhood adversely affects opportunities for education, health, and long-term employment. For adolescent girls in the U.S. who have a baby, only half complete high school by age 22, compared to nine of 10 girls who do not have a baby. Adolescent pregnancy among girls in developing countries often results from not being able to make choices about their bodies and decisions being made about their bodies that are beyond their control, such as child marriage.
We need to change the game for adolescent girls. To reduce the global rise in adolescent pregnancy rates we need changes in attitudes and the actions of the societies in which girls live. Girls must be better educated, child marriage must be eradicated, attitudes must change about gender roles and gender equality, better support must be provided to adolescent mothers, and more access to sexual and reproductive health--including contraceptives--is desperately needed.
Access to education, family support, and yes, birth control, were all factors in my being able to be a good parent and hopefully my daughter will have access to the same rights. We must expect and demand the same opportunities for all girls around the world. Childhood should never be derailed by motherhood.
Sarah Craven is the Chief of the Washington Office of UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. A lawyer by training, Sarah advocates for the rights and well-being of women and girls around the world. She is the proud mother of three children.
Oct 09 2013Coming Soon: Making Proud Choices! For Youth in Out-of-Home Care
Image of the 2010 Youth Leadership Team (YLT) class: ©2009 SNAP! Joe Portnoy.
In 2011, The National Campaign began a three-year project in partnership with the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) with a focus on reducing teen pregnancy rates among youth involved with the child welfare system. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, we adapted the evidence-based sex education curriculum Making Proud Choices! for youth in foster care and provided technical assistance and support to five teams of state and local child welfare professionals while they implemented the program. It's hard to believe we are in the middle of the third year but so much exciting work has been accomplished!
Throughout the project, the five teams--located in Alameda County (CA), Minnesota, North Carolina, Rhode Island, and Hawaii--have established critical partnerships between public health and child welfare organizations that have enabled them to implement the program at a larger scale and with a heightened focus on making the program sustainable. Since February 2013, the teams have been delivering the program to youth in care and participating in an ongoing process evaluation which is beginning to provide valuable insight about the types of partnerships and support systems that need to be in place to implement teen pregnancy prevention into daily child welfare practice.
Over the next few months, we will begin disseminating these results and will also work on the final revisions to the adapted curriculum which will be available for use by early 2014. To read more about the project, check out the recent article published in APHSA's magazine Policy & Practice and keep an eye out for more updates to come!