Welcome to New Board President Jen Barber!

Jennifer0109retwebWe’d like to welcome Jennifer Barber, MPH, as the incoming TeenNow California Board President (Jan 1, 2013-2015). Jennifer is currently Executive Director & Founder of The Talk Institute and works part-time as the Adolescent Health Coordinator for Borrego Health in the Coachella Valley. Jennifer has been a board member in multiple regions of California for TNCA for 8 years. She has worked with several youth development agencies over her career including: Camp Fire USA, Girl Scouts of America, and Big Brothers, Big Sisters. She has also taught as a professor for many years at two local colleges, been a substitute teacher for her local school district, and is a master trainer and sexuality expert.  She brings with her an entrepreneurial spirit, infectious passion, and a clear vision of our core values as an organization. We are honored to have her lead TeenNow California!
TeenNow California Board President Brian Hayes has completed his term and is leaving the board (and California!) to be closer to family and to continue his career in sexuality education on the East Coast. Some TNCA highlights for Brian include, “Being able to meet people from all over the state who are just as passionate about this work as me. It never ceases to amaze me how many people share my love for helping young people make positive decisions with their lives.” Brian says, “I will be taking so much from my experience with TNCA.  From planning large scale conference, to speaking with Government officials, there is so much that TNCA has given to me.  I have gained valuable experience on running  collaboratives, on organizing advocacy campaigns, and even running confernce calls and online trainings.” We’ll miss Brian terribly and wish him the best of luck in his endeavors!

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #7

Each month on the blog we have featured one of the winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month is the final installment for the series, as we had 7 winners this year. This month’s featured essay by Yureni Garcia was the Region 8 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Garcia plans to study at Palomar College in San Marcos this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Janet Stoddard for sponsoring.

Yureni Garcia

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #6

Each month on the blog we will feature one of the eight winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month’s featured essay by Jakari Peet was the Region 7 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Peet plans to study at San Bernardino Valley College this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Stephanie Downing-Cornwell for sponsoring.

Jakari Peet

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #5

Each month on the blog we will feature one of the eight winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month’s featured essay by Nancy Gutierrez was the Region 6 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Gutierrez plans to study at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, CA this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Elena Luna for sponsoring.

Nancy Gutierrez

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #4

Each month on the blog we will feature one of the eight winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month’s featured essay by Jordyn Oliver was the Regional 5 winner, earning the student $300 towards her education. Oliver plans to study at Willow International in Clovis, CA this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member David Beale for sponsoring.

Jordyn Oliver

2012 Scholarship: Featured Essay #3

Each month on the blog we will feature one of the eight winning essays from the TeenNow California 2012 Scholarships for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California. The essays are simultaneously inspiring and heartbreaking; each lends insight into trials of adolescent childbearing and the need for continued support for young families. This month’s featured essay by Estefania Diaz-Lopez was the Region 3 winner earning the student $300 towards her education. Diaz Lopez plans to study at City College in San Francisco this fall. We wish her the best of luck!! Thank you to TeenNow member Patricia Keehan for sponsoring.

Estefania Diaz-Lopez

Estefania Diaz-Lopez

Call for Videos, Photos, and Testimonials – Your 30 seconds of FAME!

Hello valued members!  We are putting together a short “ask” film to be used to raise funds for Teen Now California’s many projects such as, teen parent scholarship program, advocacy efforts, technical assistance and more. If your membership to our organization has been helpful to you in your work, we want to hear from you! We are looking for short and concise testimonials on your work in teen pregnancy prevention, membership experience or how TeenNow California supports you in the work you do. We are accepting any footage you feel could be used for this purpose even if you’ve used it for your agency programs (please ask permission to share it). You may use your smartphone, computer webcam, or personal camcorder for submissions. Record  a personal testimonial, a group of colleagues, or students you work with and are willing to contribute for their 30 seconds of fame! Photos and written testimonials are also very helpful and may be included in the video. We prefer videos in MP.4 format, but any format or link is fine. Thank you in advance for your time and assistance! Please email materials to lschmidt@teennowcalifornia.org by August 24th. Enjoy your next webinar on us if your submission is used in our video! Thanks again for your commitment to this work and support of our mission to increase the knowledge, skills and resources of individuals concerned with preventing teen pregnancy, supporting young families, and promoting adolescent sexual health.

Text Messaging and Teen Pregnancy Prevention: A Win-Win Intervention

Text Messaging and Teen Pregnancy Prevention: A Win-Win Intervention

By Tiffany M. Montgomery, MSN, RNC-OB, C-EFM, TeenNow California Member

Teen pregnancy is a health disparity that affects an exceptionally vulnerable population. Teen girls with ethnic minority backgrounds are doubly vulnerable. Because of their gender, age, and minority status, these teens are vulnerable on many different fronts. There have been many successful teen pregnancy prevention programs implemented and to their success, the teen pregnancy rates are continuing to decline. Still, healthcare professionals, parents, teachers, and other adults who often interact with teens have a lot of work to do in the area of teen pregnancy prevention. Although our rates of teen pregnancy are the lowest in United States history, we continue to have the second highest teen pregnancy rates in the industrialized world (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2011a).

The CDC (2011b) has initiated a campaign to utilize social media as a forum for communication about teen pregnancy and increased public engagement. There are recommendations for the use of Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, podcasts, online video sharing, and mobile technologies (i.e. text messaging and mobile applications [apps]) as teen pregnancy prevention interventions, in addition the use of social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. The CDC’s support of technology in teen pregnancy prevention interventions makes complete sense once we realize just how popular technology has become among teens.

According to a 2010 report on adolescent cell phone use, 88% of teens with cell phones use their phones for text messaging (Lenhart). The rates of text messaging increase with age and are higher among teen girls than among teen boys; the mean number of text messages sent and received by teen girls is 125 texts per day while teen boys text on average 101 times daily (Lenhart, 2010). African-American teens have the highest rates of text messaging in the U.S., followed by Hispanic teens and non-Hispanic White teens (Lenhart, 2010). As it relates to teen pregnancy, Hispanic teens have the highest rates, followed by African-American teens and non-Hispanic White teens (Pazol et al., 2011). The high rates of teen pregnancy among Hispanic, African-American, and non-Hispanic White teens in conjunction with their high rates of text messaging present the perfect rationale for the use of text messaging as an intervention to decrease teen pregnancy.

In the state of North Carolina, the BrdsNBz text messaging program was established in 2009 to provide adolescents ages 14- to 19-years-old with medically sound information pertaining to their sexual health (Phillips, 2010). The aim of the program is to increase teens’ knowledge, awareness, and quality of life through the reduction of unintended pregnancies and STDs (Phillips, 2010). Teens initiate the first text message and a representative from the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of Northern Carolina responds within 24 hours. The program is advertised on various teen health websites and through purchased advertisements on MySpace and non-profit organizations. The program, one of the only of its kind at its inception, has received national attention from those who would like to replicate the program in their own states or regions (Phillips, 2010). Findings from formative program studies showed that teens were more likely to follow-up on information received through the BrdsNBz program than information received from school, home, or the community (Phillips, 2010).

Since the creation of the BrdsNBz text messaging program, many other text messaging programs have been implemented to combat high-risk teen sexual behaviors in general and more specifically to target teen pregnancy:

  • Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy—text “SEX” to 30644 to receive a response to your questions on sex, relationships, and teen pregnancy within 24 hours.
  • BrdsNBz—text a question regarding sex and relationships to 36263. Be sure to type “NC” before your question.
  • Hookup—text “HOOKUP” to 61827 to receive weekly automated text messages containing information on sex and life and to find a sexual health clinic in your zip code.
  • SexInfo—text “SEXINFO” to 36617 to receive a list of codes to text back based on the topic of concern.
  • The SexEd Loop—text “SEXEDLOOP” to 61827 to receive weekly text messages on sexual education.

Text messaging services can be accessed anywhere at any time and they are virtually cost-free (normal text messaging rates will apply). These programs, located throughout the U.S. are available for the use of teens in any region of the country and not only those who live in the state in which the program headquarters are located. When teens feel they can’t come to the adults in their lives, we can point them in the direction of services that can help them with their questions and not simply leave them to figure everything out on their own. We can encourage teens to utilize the programs above and other reputable text messages services so that they receive accurate information on teen pregnancy and pregnancy prevention. Through the use of text messages programs that address sexual health, we can be confident that the teens in our lives are receiving the appropriate information, even when that information does not come directly from us.

References

Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campiagn on North Carolina. (2012). BrdsNBz text message warm line. Retrieved from http://appcnc.org/brdsnbz-text-message-warm-line

Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy. (2012). About ACAP: Text message line. Retrieved from http://keepit360.org/About/

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011a). Health disparities and inequalities report. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/minorityhealth/CHDIReport.html

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2011b). Teen pregnancy and socail media. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/TeenPregnancy/SocialMedia/index.htm

Internet Sexuality Inormation Services. (2012). ISIS projects. Retrieved from http://www.isis-inc.org/contactus.php

Lenhart, A. (2010). Teens and cell phones. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved from http://pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2010/PIP-Teens-and-Mobile-2010-with-topline.pdf

Pazol, K., Warner, L., Gavin, L., Callaaghan, W. M., Spitz, A. M., Anderson, . . . Kann, L. (2011). Vital signs: Teen pregnancy — United States, 1991–2009 (Vol. 60, pp. 414-420).

Phillips, K. R. (2010). BrdsNBz: a text-messaging forum for improving the sexual health of          adolescents in North Carolina. North Carolina Medical Journal, 71(4), 368-371.

The SexEd Loop. The talk: By teens, for teens. Retrieved from http://sexedloop.sexetc.org/

Announcements and such!

From the Operations and Communications Coordinator:

TeenNow California has been busy! We continue to advocate for comprehensive sex education and teen parents throughout California. We have some exciting announcements and upcoming events:

  • Thank you to all who submitted scholarship applications and poster contest submissions! We will review applications and notify applicants in early May. Email us at tnca@teennowcalifornia.org if you have any questions.
  • We are conducting a membership survey to help better guide us over the next few years, to help us continue to offer services and programs that are relevant to you and to California youth. We hope that you can take a few minutes to fill out a brief survey. If you complete the survey and provide us with your name, you will be entered to win a free TeenNow California webinar, good through the end of 2012. Below is the link to the survey. Please take a few minutes and fill it out so we can better serve you. All your answers will be kept confidential and used only in the aggregate. This survey opportunity will be open until April 30th. Thank you in advance! https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/TNCA2012Survey
  • We have been hosting some great webinars lately! Our most recent was about “Challenging Gender Norms in Teen Sexuality Education.” Our next webinar will be on Wednesday May 2, 2012 from 12pm-1pm and will be about “Teen Pregnancy Prevention Advocacy: What You Can Do.” Register and learn how you can be an advocate! As always, discounts for members. Keep up to date with webinars and events on our events page: http://teennowcalifornia.org/events.php
  • I was inspired by the presentations and organizations at Sex::Tech 2012 in San Francisco! Look for a write-up of the experience in this blog soon.
  • I just finished reading The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti…look for my review of the book in this blog soon. I will be reading and reviewing What You really Really Want by Jaclyn Friedman andNot Under My Roof by Amy Schalet…look for the reviews in this blog soon.
  • We are working on organizing Sex Ed Film Festivals in the Bay Area in Northern California and in Los Angeles! We loved the discussions happening at the Sex Ed Film Festival we hosted at San Diego State in 2011 and we’re thrilled to bring this educational forum and several interesting films to incite discussions about sexuality education. Save the dates coming soon.
  • Stay in the loop on what’s happening in sexuality education and teen pregnancy prevention in California by joining our email list: http://teennowcalifornia.org/ or following us on Twitter or “like” us on Facebook

“Let’s Talk About Sex!”–Film Review

Let’s Talk About Sex

Film reviewed by Lena Schmidt

Sex is part of our culture, especially youth culture. Sexual imagery is inescapable:  billboards, magazine covers, movies, and Internet ads inundate us with it. But we’re still not supposed to talk about it. The new documentary, “Let’s Talk About Sex” by James Houston addresses this conundrum with the central question, “if sex is everywhere, but it is taboo to talk about, what effect is it having on young people?” Houston uses interesting interviews, engaging graphics, and alarming data to show that teens are paying a terrible price for this confusion, fear, and silence around sex and sexuality in US culture: increasing rates of unintended pregnancy, STDs, and HIV. And American taxpayers are paying billions of dollars to treat these preventable problems.

According to the film, 70% of Americans have had sex by the time they’re 19.  95% of Americans have sex before they’re married. The US government has spent $1.5 billion on abstinence-only education and yet the US has the highest teen birth rate in the industrialized world. 85% of parents in America want comprehensive sex education for their children; it is a small but vocal minority that is deeply opposed. Houston talks to teens, parents, teachers, doctors, faith leaders, linguists, researchers, and college students who agree that withholding information from young people does not protect them. As the film states, in the US, “teens are thought of as accidents waiting to happen—driven by raging hormones—[and] in some ways it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.” One concerned parent says, “We teach our kids math, reading, science, but we don’t teach them about their body and how to be responsible…sex is as much a part of life as algebra or English.” Houston advocates starting conversations to change outdated attitudes about sex.

These conversations may need to take place in surprising venues. African-American contributors in the documentary explain that in the same way that the church was involved with abolishing slavery, the end of segregation, and the civil rights movement, it needs to continue to address the needs of the time, which means talking about sex in church. African-American communities often demonstrate high rates of teen pregnancy, and although African Americans make up only 15% of the US, they make up 50% of all new HIV infections. The film makes it difficult to argue with the fact that talking about sex will save lives.

The film brilliantly compares European and American attitudes about sexuality and sex education. In Holland/the Netherlands sex is discussed as a natural part of a relationship and as a way to express love. One mom in Holland says, “Kids have sex. If they don’t have sex in the bedroom they’ll probably have sex in the street or in the park.” This mom even offers her own condoms to her son to use. This and other examples (and the statistics presented about teen pregnancy rates) demonstrate that abstinence-only education is insufficient in protecting our teens. Some highlights of the film include: a classroom of expectant teens being taught abstinence-only education despite the clear evidence that it wasn’t relevant to their lives, a teacher putting a condom over her hand all the way to her elbow to rebut the myth that size matters, and the disparate attitudes teens have in the US and the Netherlands about young women and men who carry condoms in their wallets.

This film is recommended and appropriate for parents, teens, and educators. It is a great conversation starter—watch it today and start talking. Let’s talk about sex! To learn more about the film and resources, check out the film’s website: http://www.letstalkaboutsexthefilm.com/ The film was made in collaboration with http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/  To talk about sex and sex education in California, become a member of TeenNow California: http://teennowcalifornia.org/Join.php