Parents as First Teachers Training

TeenNow California is excited to debut the first of its Parents as First Teachers trainings in Riverside, Ca. TeenNow California, in collaboration with the Riverside Community Health Foundation, has created a new parent training curriculum to help parents become the fist teachers of sex education for their children. This FREE training is broken into two parts; one for parents of young children, aged 5-9, and one for parents of older children, aged 10-14. The trainings feature lessons on how to become an askable parent and communication skills, as well as providing parents with the resources and information they need to provide accurate and useful information to children.

Our first round of trainings will be held at the Bryant Park/Arlanza Community Center at 7950 Philbin Ave in Riverside. The three-session training for parents of young children will take place on Thursdays from 6-8PM starting February 17th (2/17, 2/24, and 3/3). The three-session training for parents of older children will begin on March 10th, and continue for the following two Thursdays at the same time (3/10, 3/17, and 3/24). If you or someone you know is interested in attending, please register by calling (619) 741-9650 or e-mailing The training is completely free for parents and will include refreshments.

This training, which focuses on teaching parents how to talk to their children about sexual health from an early age, is one of the first of its kind and we are excited to debut it in Riverside in an effort to reduce the teen pregnancy rate and have parents become more involved in the sex education of their children. Make sure to spread the word about this training to anyone you know in Riverside, and also remember that we need your support to continue these trainings and hopefully spread them throughout California. To donate, visit our webpage at

To learn more about the Parents as First Teachers program, visit our previous blog post about the program.

Also, there is a lot of information out there about the importance of parents becoming involved in the sex education of their children. Check out the resources below which feature articles on this topic. The only way parents can begin to teach their children about sex education is if they are educated on the topic also – Parents as First Teachers teaches parents how to put the power back in their own hands and be the “first teachers” in sexual health for their own children.

An article on the importance of parents in teaching sex education

An editorial of the “Top Ten List of Resolutions for Parents Talking to Teens about Sex”

A study that shows that while 98% of parents felt youth should receive their sex education from parents, only 24% believed they were the main providers of sex education information

TeenNow California’s Response to Decline in Teen BirthRate

Lemon Grove, CA—The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) released information that the teen birthrate in California has declined yet again in 2009. Mark Horton, director of the CDPH, announced that there were 47,811 births to teens ages 15-19 in 2009, a reduction from 51,704 births the previous year. This represents the lowest rate the state has seen since California began tracking teen birth rates.

“I am thrilled about this decline,” said Brian F. Hayes, TeenNow California’s Board President and the Youth 2 Youth Center Director for Operation Samahan, a community health center that serves low-income families in San Diego County. “It means that the hard work we are all doing is actually paying off, and that comprehensive sex education does lower unplanned pregnancies for teens. My concern now is ensuring that efforts continue. In California, we had some fantastic results from our Teen Pregnancy Prevention efforts, but with the elimination of two of the most successful contributors to this new data, TeenSmart Outreach and the Male Involvement Program, I fear this decline is short lived.”

Teen pregnancy prevention programs, like other health and education programs, have been hard-hit by California’s budget crisis. TeenSmart Outreach and the Male Involvement Program were eliminated in 2008, and the Information and Education Program was drastically cut. All these programs, along with the Community Challenge Grant program, have been funded through the Department of Public Health’s Office of Family Planning. Each funding stream has its own targets and strategies, and have formed a holistic, integrated approach to teen pregnancy and STI prevention throughout the state.

“There are many reasons we’re seeing these promising declines,” said Dana Goodrow, executive director of TeenNow California, a state-wide organization that provides training, technical assistance, advocacy, and professional development to those working with adolescents. “California has long understood that preventing teen pregnancy requires innovative, community-based strategies. The state has offered a great deal of quality programming for young people, including leadership development, mentoring, theater and arts programs, traditional, medically accurate sex education, and access to contraception and clinical services. All of these elements are important pieces of a comprehensive strategy to improve outcomes for teens.”

Goodrow goes on the say that a priority for leaders in the teen pregnancy prevention arena, including TeenNow California, is to preserve California’s successful models so that rates continue to decline. “The cost to society of teen births is high,” she said. “We can’t let budget issues derail the progress we’ve made here. In the long term, preventing teen pregnancies is good for California’s bottom line.”

The largest reduction in teen births was seen in the Latino community, despite the fact that that group continues to have the highest teen birth rate in the state. The Latino teen birth rate dropped from 61.9 in 2007 to 50.8 in 2009, a decrease of 11.1 teen births per 1,000 females.

  • African-American teens had the second highest birth rate at 40.5 in 2007, the rate for African-American teens dropped to 37.0 in 2009, a decline of 3.5.
  • The teen birth rate for Asian/Pacific Islander teens fell from 10.9 in 2007 to 8.5 in 2009.
  • The rate for White teens declined from 13.6 in 2007 to 11.9 in 2009.

Although the source of this continuing decline in California may be debated, within California community clinics and teen pregnancy prevention programs, the focus is more on continuing teen pregnancy prevention efforts and funding.





*TeenNow California is a state-wide organization that provides training, technical assistance, advocacy, and professional development opportunities those working with adolescents. TeenNow California is dedicated to promoting the health and well-being of expectant and parenting teenagers and their young children, and to the prevention of adolescent childbearing.


Social/Sex Education for Children with Disabilities

Sex education for children with disabilities has an unfortunate stigma around it. While trying to find resources for this very article, I realized that information on the subject is few and far between. While there is a plethora of information and controversy on sex education in public high schools across the state, it seemed like sex education for children with disabilities was virtually ignored. The majority of information I found on the topic was as a reaction to a student crisis, not an ongoing conversation or topic for children and teens with disabilities.

Although there is limited information on the topic, fortunately there are still those who write about it and have first-hand experience teaching social/sex education to children with disabilities. Tom Miller, an Education Director at Perkins School for the Blind, has taught social/sex education for many years to children that are blind or deaf-blind, as well as to children with autism. In addition, he recently returned from a teaching assignment in the Middle East, where he gained valuable experience with teaching social/sex education in another culture.

Miller is disappointed, as are many within the sexual health profession, that there is such a lack of curricula and information on sex education for people with disabilities. One of the main reasons he cited for this lack was society’s perception that people with disabilities are asexual. Society as a whole must move beyond this view and realize that children and adults with developmental or physical disabilities need quality sex education and are just as – if not more – at risk for poor sexual health outcomes as those in the mainstream of society. Of course, creating this change is not easy, but Miller stressed the importance of extensive staff training as well as working as a team with parents to teach social/sex education. Within his school, Miller views himself in a partnership with the parents and stresses that the parents begin teaching social/sex education to their children at an early age, explaining where babies come from and allowing small children to help with diapering and other tasks that involve the body.

Dr. Edwards "Appropriate/Inappropriate" and "Public/Private" Training

One training that Miller utilizes, which was developed by Dr. Jean Edwards of the Edwards Center in Aloha, OR, focuses on a behavior plan of “Appropriate/Inappropriate” and “Public/Private.” This program allows the child with disabilities to define social/sexual behaviors into four workable categories and gives concrete terms to aid parents and service providers in defining and finding solutions or alternative behaviors in social/sex situations. For trainings, Miller has also adapted many teen sex education programs to the children he teaches with disabilities. The importance, he says, is adapting curricula that are well-done and evidence-based to the population you’re serving; it is easier to adapt curricula than start at square one and develop new curricula.

Another important part of teaching social/sex education to children with disabilities is interaction and role-playing. While working with children with autism, Miller has used the “Magic Circle” where, at the end of the day, the children sit around in a circle and debrief on their social situations for the day and talk about appropriate behavior.

"Teach-A-Bodies" Dolls are often used for teaching social/sex education to students with disabilities

Also within his programs, Miller has utilized a “Make a Date” game/program where children with disabilities get the opportunity to practice dating, learn how to ask someone to dance, and etc. One aspect of dealing with children with disabilities is that a lot of the time their lives are controlled by their parents and teachers. Because so much of their daily life is based on routine, they don’t get many opportunities to experiment and take chances. Within these role-playing “games,” children with disabilities get the opportunity to practice taking more chances and experimenting in life. Miller made sure during his “Make a Date” program that the children went to a new place they hadn’t been before and their date was chosen at random.

Miller stresses the importance of peer interaction with children with similar disabilities as well. During “Make a Date” the teens were also paired with teens with disabilities from another school to provide more of that interaction.

Just as with any child, starting the discussion about sex and relationships early is an important predictor of success. Too often children and teens with disabilities only receive sex education as an informal reaction to a problem, not as a formal part of their daily life. It’s important that children with disabilities start having social/sex education as part of their daily routine. It is also important that staff receive more training on dealing with children with disabilities, and that there is more development in curriculum for children with disabilities as well as more adaptation of curriculum. Although it looks like there is a long road ahead before social/sex education for children with disabilities becomes more a part of the mainstream, it is important that the topic continues being discussed and more information available for professionals and parents.

Resources for Professionals and Parents on Teaching Social/Sex Education to Children and Teens with Disabilities

Our Whole Lives, Pamela A. Johnson, MSW; Judith A. Frediani Developmental Editor;  Unitarian Universalist Association, Boston: 1999

(This is the text Miller adapted to work with his students with disabilities)

Being Me (1979); Feeling Free (1982), Jean Edwards

Social/Sex Education, Thomas Miller, MS

Social/Sex Education for Children and Youth With Visual Impairments, Thomas Miller, MS

Family Planning Queensland

(This website features many articles on how to talk to children and teens with disabilities on topics ranging from menstruation to contraception)

Anatomical Dolls

(Family Planning Victoria advised that for teaching students with disabilities, the trick is to simplify. Visual sources of information are useful and their organization purchases anatomically correct dolls from the site above to assist in their sex education programs)


(“Kylie’s Private World” and “Jason’s Private World” are available from Life Support Productions in the UK and serve as good visuals to teach students with disabilities)