Change a Life, Be a Mentor!

Did you know that January is National Mentoring Month? Although January is quickly coming to a close, we at TeenNow California decided to celebrate National Mentoring Month by reminding everyone how important mentors are for youth and for sexual health professionals.

We all know dedicated and long-term staff are essential for creating relationships with youth and for being knowledgeable on what works for teen pregnancy prevention. Yet, in a report by Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) for The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HOPE found that a major challenge to Latino teen pregnancy prevention programs was the high turnover rate of staff which resulted in unstable programming.  So although long-term and knowledgeable staff are necessary, high turnover rates are still prevalent among sexual health and teen pregnancy professionals.

How can we help combat this high turnover rate, especially among young professionals who are just beginning their careers? Sexual health professionals need mentors for support and guidance in a field that is volatile and often lacking a support system.

TeenNow California - A Place for Professional Support

Often when we think of mentoring we think of a “Big Brother” or “Big Sister” program and forget how essential mentoring can be for aspiring professionals, especially young professionals who may have little support from others or not know anyone within the field. A recent USA Today article also pointed out how hard it can be for young professionals to find support.  The article profiled a 21 year-old who had always wanted a mentor but, coming from a family where no one had graduated from college, it was hard for her to find someone to help her with educational and career choices. For young professionals within the sexual health field or youth who are considering entering the field, it can be equally challenging and there are usually few options.

Sexual health education is essential for teens, but teens won’t be able to make informed decisions if they aren’t guided by professionals who are knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated to their position. So if you are a sexual health or teen pregnancy professional, consider reaching out to aspiring professionals and give them the support they need.

So Happy Mentoring Month! Go out there and make an impact on a young professional today!

*TeenNow California is currently in the development stage of a mentoring program for new professionals within the sexual health and teen pregnancy field. We hope to lower the high turnover rate among sexual health professionals by offering them support, mentoring, training, and technical assistance. To learn more about TeenNow California’s programs and services, visit our website.

 

Advertisements

More Proof that Parent-Child Communication Works!

A recent study and an editorial by an experienced sex educator stresses the importance of parents talking with their children about sexual health. The study found that although 98% of the 1,605 parents that participated in the study believed that youth should receive sex education from their parents, 78% also believed that kids received the  majority of information about sex from friends and 60% saw media as the main source. So why is there such a huge disparity between what parents think should happen and what actually happens? Why aren’t parents actually talking to their kids about sex and taking an active role in their sex education?

Although most people now agree that parents speaking with their children openly about sex and sexual health is imperative, the problem is that the majority of parents don’t know HOW to talk to their children about sex. So instead of just preaching the importance of parent-child communication, the Parents as First Teachers program is actually doing something about it!

By supporting Parents as First Teachers, you’re supporting a training program that teaches parents in a culturally sensitive way how to talk openly and correctly with their children about sexual health. Parents of at-risk children will be taught how to begin the conversation at an early age and maintain it throughout the teenage years, and all of this for free for the parents and their children! 

We wrote a previous blogpost about our Parents as First Teachers program, which you should definitely read to learn more about this life-changing program. We need help though to sustain this program! Consider donating to the Parents as First Teachers program through our Facebook Cause, or click on the “Donate” button on the upper left-hand corner of our webpage.

Aren’t in a position to donate a few dollars? That’s okay! If you really believe that it is imperative that parents learn how to speak openly and effectively to their children about sex, then there are many others ways you can help us! We also need donations from businesses for printing and copying our curricula as well as other office supplies. E-mail tnca@teennowcalifornia.org to learn more about all the ways you can help!

Are Teens Using the Internet for Sex Education?

A recent study by the Guttmacher Institute shows that teens are more likely to turn to family members, school, or medical professionals for information on sexual health than to the Internet. In-depth interviews at three public high schools in New York and Indiana found that only a minority of the 58 study participants reported that they got any contraceptive or abstinence information online – those who did access sexual health websites only did so in response to a specific event (such as a school assignment). As cited on the Guttmacher Institute website, most of the teens interviewed were wary of sexual health information on the Internet and had a distrust for online information since it is often user-generated and could be incorrect. It was found that teens were most likely to trust family members (usually parents) for sexual health information with their next most trusted sources being educators, medical professionals, and friends.

While this study provides some interesting food for thought, the sample size is very small and comes from only one small geographic area. We can’t realistically say, based on this study alone, that most teens don’t use the Internet to get information about reproductive health. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular teen sexual health websites. Does it seem like teens are utilizing these websites for personal information, or just for class assignments? How many teens actually use these sexual health websites? And also, are high-risk teens utilizing these websites, especially teens that might already have a child?

www.teensource.org – Teensource’s motto is “Sexual health info for youth to encourage informed decision making.” The purpose of Teensource, developed by the California Family Health Council, is to improve the health and well-being of young people in California by providing non-judgmental, accurate, and reliable sexual and reproductive health information and resources. Teensource has accurate and reliable information about STDs and birth control and includes features such as “The Hookup,” a weekly sex info and life advice sent via text message, a “Find a Clinic” section, and a new YouTube station packed full of videos by celebrities and about Teensource.

Teensource seems to definitely have a following, but the extent of that following is hard to gauge. Their highest viewed YouTube video has over 24,000 hits, but the majority of the videos are between 1,000-5,000 hits. For comparison, a baby dancing to Beyonce on YouTube has 17,118,645 views. They have 466 followers on Twitter and 137 “Likes” on Facebook. The majority of their Facebook comments, though, are met with little response. Alexa, a website that does web traffic reporting, ranks Teensource #966,459 out of over 25 million sites in the world for traffic. (Alexa ranked over 25 million sites based on a formula that includes number of hits a site received, page views, duration of the time spent on a page or site, and other factors.) Alexa also notes that this site is most popular with ages under 25, people who have attended no college or some college, females, and people who have not had children.

www.scarleteen.com – Scarleteen’s motto is “Sex Ed for the real world.” Scarleteen is visited

by around three-quarters of a million people each month worldwide. It is the highest-ranked website for sex education and sexuality advice online and has held that rank through most of its tenure. According to Alexa, Scarleteen is ranked #37,630 in the world and Scarleteen’s audience tends to be aged under 25 – it also appeals more to low-income, childless women who are not college graduates.

www.teenshealth.org – TeensHealth teaches the

facts about sexual health with articles about puberty, menstruation, infections, birth control, and much more. This website has great static information for teens with article topics such as “Am I Still a Virgin If I Use a Tampon?” “Irregular Periods,” “Telling Parents You’re Pregnant,” and “Virginity: A Very Personal Decision.” Unfortunately, this site doesn’t have much in the way of interactive content, without many message boards or a referral system that I can see.

TeensHealth is ranked #1,059,042 by Alexa and the majority of its visitors are under 24. Its visitors are also more likely to have had some college, more likely to be female, and more likely to have had children.

www.sexetc.org – Sex, etc.’s motto is “Sex education by teens, for teens!” Sex, etc. includes stories written by teens, an “Ask the Experts” section which allows teens to submit questions and receive personal and confidential answers via e-mail, forums where teens can participate in moderated discussions with other teens, videos about sexual health, and a sex terms glossary.

Alexa ranks Sex, etc. #94,557 and the majority of its visitors are under 24, have not been to college or only attended some college, has slightly more female visitors, and most visitors are viewing from home or school.

www.stayteen.org – Stay Teen’s goal is to encourage teens to enjoy their teen years and avoid the responsibilities that

come with too-early pregnancy and parenting. StayTeen is created by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and includes videos, games, and lots of content on the MTV reality show, 16 and Pregnant.

StayTeen is ranked #817,997 by Alexa and is mainly viewed by visitors under 24 and between 45-54. The site also has a majority female audience and is frequented by people with either no college education or a college degree.

 

I am definitely not an expert on web traffic or traffic rankings, but although some teens might not seek out reproductive health information online, it does seem like sexual health websites are getting quite a lot of traffic, especially Scarleteen and Sex, etc. It also seems like the age group and education level of people that are frequenting these sites are those that need the information the most, for more than just school assignments.

What are your thoughts on the Guttmacher study and these teen sexual health websites? Do you think that teens are utilizing sexual health websites, and if they are, is that a good thing? Feel free to leave a comment or e-mail tnca@teennowcalifornia.org.

 

TeenNow in 2011

TeenNow California is looking ahead to the future to see how we can better assist teen pregnancy and prevention professionals across the state, as well as explore innovative strategies to reduce the teen pregnancy rate!

Goals for 2011 and Beyond!

Increase our advocacy role.

  • Advocacy is an important part of what we do. We find, as do many people, that we spend our advocacy time “putting out fires,” rather than taking the time to identify important issues ahead of time and addressing them head-on. In the next year we will enhance our role throughout the state by bringing on a policy intern and securing additional resources to help in our policy efforts.

Expand programs and services to include more leadership development opportunities.

  • TeenNow California is crafting new programs and services designed to help people in the field of teen pregnancy and parenting to grow professionally, and to help other people gain interest in the field. In the coming year we will create services that will be available to members, to help them learn the field better, get needed training, and make critical contacts that will enhance their careers. In addition, we will reach out to young people interested in teen parenting and pregnancy prevention, such as peer educators, college students, and even high school students that are interested in the field, and offer them important leadership development opportunities.
  • TeenNow California realizes that it is important that California’s youth stay interested in the teen pregnancy and prevention field in order to continue to reduce the teen pregnancy rate and to make sure that the next generation of professionals in the field are educated, aware, and prepared for whatever lies ahead.

TeenNow California is in the process of, and plans to continue, to develop key partnerships with government and community organizations to advance our platform.

  • We know we cannot reduce the teen pregnancy rate-or provide the needed support for teen parents-on our own. We’re excited to continue our partnerships with other organizations and develop new relationships to ensure that adolescent health professionals have a voice and much-needed resources.

In order to ensure that our members get the most out of their membership, we are planning on offering more training and technical assistance in proven as well as innovative ways.

  • We hope to expand our webinar services and conference calls so that everyone can have an affordable way to receive the training and assistance they need.

We hope you are as excited about 2011 as we are! But we want your feedback on what YOU want from TeenNow in 2011! Please leave a comment or e-mail tnca@teennowcalifornia.org to share your thoughts and let us know how we can better serve you in the coming year!

TeenNow California is here to assist sexual health professionals across the state, offering you the resources and trainings you need, but we can’t do it all without your help! Remember, even a dollar can make a difference and help us expand our programs and services. Please visit www.teennowcalifornia.org to donate today or learn more about our programs and services.