Decline in Teen Birth-Rate

If you haven’t heard the news already, the CDC recently released a report that showed that the teen birth rate declined in 2009! This is great news for professionals within the field of teen pregnancy and sexual health, and TeenNow California is excited to continue to spread the news.

The report showed that the birth rate for US teenagers fell 6% in 2009 to the lowest level ever recorded in nearly seven decades. Teen birth rates fell significantly for all races and Hispanic origin groups between 2008 and 2009, with the birth rate for Hispanic teenagers falling 10% to the lowest rate ever reported for this group in the two decades the rates have been available.

Sources are citing a variety of reasons behind the decline, including the recession, increased contraception use, and even pop culture, such as the MTV reality show, 16 and Pregnant.

  • The Economy – Sarah Brown, chief executive of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, said in a recent Associated Press article, “I’m not suggesting that teens are examining futures of 401(k)s or how the market is doing…But I think they are living in families that experience that stress. They are living next door to families that lost their jobs…The recession has touched us all.”

Not everyone is completely behind the recession as a reason behind the decline, although some people do believe that it had an effect. Bill Albert of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy had skepticism about the recession explanation, but he did explain that “there is a mushy middle ground [of teens who] say, ‘Well, yeah, I wouldn’t want to get pregnant, but it wouldn’t be the worst thing that happened.” Albert explained that he thinks that this group of teens might have decided against sex or used contraception more strictly due to the economic struggles of their families and community members.

  • Increased Contraception Use – Rachel Jones of the Guttmacher Institute said, “Other than people conjecturing, there is no evidence that the recession has had a direct impact on teen sexual behaviors…It seems if we want to look for reasons for patterns in teen birth rates, [birth control use] is the one indicator that offers us practical insights.” Many news outlets and blogs are standing behind increased use of birth control methods as one of the main reasons behind the decline.
  • Pop Culture – Many news outlets cited Bristol Palin’s almost celebrity status for pushing teen pregnancy into the spotlight, while other sources are citing the MTV reality show 16 and Pregnant for convincing teens to use contraception or just not have sex. A report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy indicated that 82% of teens say the show helps them better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and why they should avoid it.

While parts or all of these hypotheses may be correct, TeenNow California wants to hear from YOU! Whether you are a teen pregnancy or sexual health professional, or just someone who is interested in teen sexual health, leave a comment or email us at tnca@teennowcalifornia.org with your response and comments! Let us know more about your organization and what you have been doing to help reduce the teen-birth rate! We are looking forward to hearing from you and highlighting some of your responses in an up-coming article.

 

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Trainings for Teen Pregnancy Prevention

The field of teen pregnancy prevention and sexual health has a high turnover rate, and no wonder with its low pay and high stress environment. Budget cuts and the lack of money within schools make it increasingly difficult for the professionals who stay within the field to receive up-to-date information, resources, and trainings on topics of sexual health and sex education. With new teaching and out-reach strategies constantly being developed, new research and studies surfacing, and the habits, trends, and social environment of teenagers constantly changing, how are sexual health professionals supposed to stay on top of it all?

That’s where TeenNow California comes in.

TeenNow Training

A Recent TeenNow Training

The more knowledge that teachers and health educators have, the more effectively they can help today’s youth. In order to assist teachers and health educators, TeenNow California offers trainings created to keep professionals in the field up-to-date on the most recent research, studies, teaching strategies, youth trends, and more.

We recently conducted a regional training on relationship violence in collaboration with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and the California Adolescent Health Collaborative. Abusive teen relationships are a huge issue that more and more professionals need to receive training on to make sure that they have the most up-to-date information. This informative and innovative training drew about 50 people from around Fresno and was met with rave reviews.

The training focused on abusive teen relationships, reproductive coercion, and prevention strategies including screening, treatment, and the resources available to help victims in schools, health settings, and the community. The trainers included Helenann Hirsch, who works with the California

TeenNow Training

A Recent TeenNow Training

Women’s Law Center as an attorney, The Marjaree Mason Center, and La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson who specializes in the areas of comprehensive sexuality education, adolescent development, parent education, and women’s wellness.

TeenNow California also offers other trainings that can help sexual health professionals stay up-to-date and make sure that they have the best information to guide today’s youth.  Our trainings include Parent-Child Communication, Using Social Networking to Reach Out to Youth, Choosing the Right Sex-Ed Curriculum for Your Population, Minor Consent and Confidentiality, and much more! To learn more about these trainings, visit the Resources section of our website.

So what can you do to ensure that teen pregnancy and sexual health professionals are given the proper information and tools?

If you are already a professional within the field, consider requesting a training in your city or county by e-mailing tnca@teennowcalifornia.org.

If you are a high school or college student interested in the teen pregnancy and sexual health field, check out our website and e-mail us at tnca@teennowcalifornia.org; we would be happy to share with you some information and put you in the right direction to accomplish your career goals.

Anyone else out there who is interested in ensuring that the teen pregnancy rate continues to fall and that today’s youth are receiving the highest level of comprehensive sex education, learn more about TeenNow California by visiting our website, or consider donating to TeenNow California today. A donation of just $25 will send one teacher or health educator to a training! With your support, we will be able to keep the cost of trainings down and ensure that every teacher or educator receives the trainings they need!

 

Documentary Explores Abstinence-Only Education and Purity Balls

I recently had the opportunity to view Daddy, I Do, a documentary that explores abstinence-only education and the purity movement. This documentary should be required viewing for those who are on the fence regarding abstinence-only or comprehensive sex education.

The documentary begins with some information and statistics on Purity Balls, where young women (one girl they portrayed was as young as six) go to “Balls” with their fathers and pledge purity in the name of their father. The girls receive a “purity” ring and when they become married, they hand the ring over to their husband. This documentary does a great job of exploring the pitfalls of abstinence-only education and the purity ring movement through interviews with educators, professionals, and normal teens and young people who are on both sides of the debate.

One of the best scenes in the documentary was an interview with a young African American woman with many young children who had a long history of poverty and sexual abuse. Another memorable scene was an interview with a mother of a child who is a strong supporter of abstinence (the child even sings a song in support of abstinence); the mother spoke quite frankly about the naivety of devoting so much energy and emotion into waiting for the perfect man to come along, and the rejection associated with that.

Daddy, I Do does not pose any easy solutions to the problems of teen pregnancy and high HIV and STD infection rates, but it does clearly show that comprehensive sex education is a step in the right direction and that abstinence-only programs are not showing results. Daddy, I Do reveals the complexity of teen pregnancy and acknowledges that comprehensive sex education is not the only answer to the problem, but also reveals that abstinence-only programs are contributing to some of these high rates of unintended pregnancies and STD infections.

While sexual health professionals may only be reminded of the problems they face every day in their own careers by watching this documentary, it is still highly recommended for anyone and everyone interested in teen sexual health, especially for those who are unaware of the significance of the Purity Ball for a portion of Americans.

To learn more about Daddy, I Do or request a video for your own viewing, visit the website.

Check out the trailer for Daddy, I Do below:

Sex Education in Other Countries

We hear a lot about sex education in Europe, and we even recently profiled in one of our own Blogposts how much attitudes about sex differ between Europe and the United States. But what about sex education in other countries, especially countries outside of Europe? There are many articles about the lack of sex education in other countries and the high rate of teen pregnancy and HIV, yet, some of these countries are attempting to combat these high rates with innovative programs and strategies, while others continue with archaic views on sexual health and sex education. Here is a look at a few countries’ sex education programs and strategies – some you may find inspirational and others remain rooted in the past. Share your thoughts!

Guam is in the western Pacific Ocean and is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The Chamorro culture, Guam’s indigenous people, has been intertwined with the Catholic Church, which has long preached against the use of contraception. Public Health officials in Guam struggle with teen sex education in a largely Catholic community. The Public Health officials in Guam conduct outreach at local schools in an effort to spread information on teen pregnancy while still being sensitive to religious beliefs. According to some Public Health officials, making sure parents are aware of what their children are being taught is critical. Luckily, Public Health officials try to help teens by giving out free condoms and emergency contraception, but trying to tackle a society where it is thought that, “the use of condoms destroys the whole notion of marriage,” is a very hard task. To read more about Guam’s struggle with teen pregnancy and sex education, click here.

Thailand has been in the news lately for the recently uncovered 2,002 illegally aborted fetuses discovered in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok. Many are now citing the lack of sex education in Thailand as well as the fact that abortion is illegal in the country. Sex education is often viewed as a taboo subject in Thailand and many Thai teachers have said reading materials and teaching resources are limited and outdated. A few teachers in Thailand, though, have been attempting to break this taboo and expose their students to as much comprehensive sex education as possible. Nakorn Saniyothin, a teacher in Thailand, teaches students how to use condoms using a rubber model of a penis, and at times she also teaches her all-male class how to use a female condom and home pregnancy kits. Saniyothin has been teaching for over 23 years and utilizes frank, informal language and slang to get through to the more than 800 students she teaches. Saniyothin says that “we have to make children feel that sex is a common matter, like when we talk about our hunger for food, so that they feel comfortable in seeking counseling on sex-related issues.” To read more about how Saniyothin is bringing change to sex education in Thailand, click here.

In ChinaThe National Population and Family Planning Commission announced yesterday that the city of Beijing is going to have its first ever sex education program for Chinese students next year. This program is a little late, considering that 22.4% of Chinese youth age 15-24 participate in premarital sex, 51.2% of those sexually active youths did not use any form of birth control, more than 20% of the sexually active youths had experienced an unexpected pregnancy and 91% of those youths had opted to end that pregnancy in abortion. A large problem in China is incomplete information about contraceptive use. Only 1.7% of married women use the pill as a birth control method with many believing that in the long-run it will lead to infertility. Most women in China rely heavily on the morning-after pill, with 50% of women reporting that it was their preferred form of birth control. Also, 95% of women use “feminine wash” with more than half believing that this will protect them from sexually transmitted infections. To read more, click here.

In the Philippines, parents are beginning to learn the importance of talking to their children about sex, especially because many Filipino parents want to teach their children about body parts and their basic rights to prevent them from being abused. Yet, the problem lies in the fact that the Filipino words for sex organs are considered swear words or dirty words. Incest and sex abuse cases are rising in the Philippines, with 85% of the 1,145 child abuse cases treated by the Child Protection Unit every year involving sexual abuse. Further, 33% of the 9,787 child abuse cases reported to the Philippine National Police Women’s and Children’s Desk in 2009 were incest cases. To learn more about this, click here.

The Republic of Ghana is a country located in West Africa. In order to combat the spread of HIV, The Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission, the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) and the Global Fund, have taken HIV/AIDS and Voluntary Counseling and Testing education into local Churches. By targeting and outreaching to churches, the organizations hope that they will be able to expose a larger amount of people to Counseling and Testing, and also give them knowledge in HIV and other STI prevention techniques. The organizations are urging Churches to open their doors so that the HIV messages can be preached in congregations – in a recent Church visit, two persons living with HIV shared their testimonies to the Church members. To learn more about this effort to stop the spread of HIV in Ghana through church outreach, click here.

New Zealand is attempting to help adults foreign to New Zealand receive the sex education that they so desperately need. Beginning in 2011, foreign-born adults attending Auckland’s Concordia Institute will be required to take sex education. School leaders made the decision after finding that many of the students had been taught little or nothing about sex in their homelands. To read more, click here.

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia. Dr. Fil B. Tabayoyong, Jr., who, for 30 years, worked for NGOs on projects related to fighting HIV, opened the Condom Bar in Cambodia in 2009. Dr. Tabayoyong saw no real sex education at schools in Cambodia or discussions about sex-related questions, so he opened the Condom Bar as a safe place for youth to ask questions, learn, get a blood test, and pick up free condoms. As many as 300 to 400 people come to the Condom Bar each month, ranging from policemen to even monks. Dr. Tabayoyong says that many of the Condom Bar visitors have a variety of questions, and the majority don’t know how to use a condom and know little about fertility or menstruation. An important aspect of the Condom Bar is that it is confidential and private, allowing Cambodians to feel secure in their questions and comments. To read more about the Condom Bar, click here.

Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia and consists of thirteen states and three federal territories. A state in Northern Malaysia, in a bid to stem rising divorce rates, is providing sex education for the elderly along with newlywed sex courses. The weekend seminar for the elderly aims to “bring back the joy of sex” and to show long-married couples how to get their partner’s libido going again. Courses such as these are rare in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where open discussion on sexual health are considered taboo, yet, officials are trying to keep couples and families together with courses aimed at retaining intimacy. To read more, click here.

 

Teen Parent Scholarships

Update: TeenNow’s Teen Parent Scholarships are now accepting applications! Visit our website at http://www.teennowcalifornia.org/ and you can find the application under the “Breaking News” section under the Parent Trainings article.

Did you know that TeenNow California gives out scholarships to teen parents and teen leaders so that they can attend college or vocational school? For 25 years TeenNow California has been giving teen parents hope

through regional and statewide scholarships. And, in 2008, we established a second scholarship to recognize teens who have taken leadership roles in teen pregnancy prevention.

Each year we give out seven $300 scholarships and one grand prize scholarship of $800 to the teen parent with the most inspirational and moving story. Throughout the years it has been our pleasure to see many teen parents attend college or vocational school and get to read about their moving journey through their inspirational essays. Our Teen Leader scholarship goes to one young person in the state, for $500.

In order to assure that these scholarships continue benefiting teen parents and leaders, we need your help! Help us maintain these scholarships as well as increase their size and scope; last year we had 47 applicants and were only able to give out 8 scholarships!

To read last year’s statewide scholarship winner’s essay, click here. It is an inspirational and moving story you don’t want to miss. To read the other winners of last year’s teen parent scholarship program, click here.

Visit our website at www.teennowcalifornia.org and click on the “donate” button and specify that you want your funds to benefit our teen parent scholarship program. Each dollar donated is helping a teenparent attend college!

If you have any questions or want to learn more about our teen parent scholarships, email tnca@teennowcalifornia.org.