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 email@example.com 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.
In honor of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, we are thrilled to be a featured charity on iDeal4aCause! iDeal4aCause is a daily deal organization that connects local businesses with non-profits to earn money. We will be featured May 14–May 27. Every deal you buy on the site (deals for restaurants, adventures, and more) during those weeks earns money for TeenNow California! Please support our scholarship program for pregnant and parenting teens throughout California by participating!
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.
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/
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
2nd Place: $50 gift card
3rd Place: $25 gift card
- Submissions must be emailed, faxed, or postmarked by March 30, 2012.
- Participants must be between 12 and 19 years old by submission deadline.
- Poster size limitation: 8.5″ by 11″
- Poster may contain hand drawn images, computer graphics, words, poetry, mixed media collages, and photographs. Please do not send music CDs or videos with your poster submission.
- Posters containing violent messages or profanity will be disqualified.
- Email submissions must be in PDF, JPG, BMP, Microsoft Office Document, or Adobe Document format.
- Please include contact information along with poster (on the back of the poster, in the email, in the fax, in the envelope…anywhere, just include it please). TeenNow members: if you are sponsoring an entry, include your own contact info as well.
- Participants agree to allow submissions to be used for promotional purposes for TeenNow California.
Member Special: For every teen sponsored, members receive $5 off next due membership fee. Join today to qualify. Membership not required, but highly encouraged, for contest participation.
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
As the holiday season approaches, we often think about what to give to others. But what about a gift for yourself? TeenNow California has two exciting webinars coming up! Both are designed to continue your education and help you effectively serve young people. Both are online so you can get trainings without traveling. Member discounts!
On December 13, 2011 we are hosting the webinar: “Sex Isn’t ‘Dirty’: Being Sex Positive When Teaching Teens.” This workshop is designed to provide educators and others who interact with teens the tools necessary to discuss sex and sexuality from a positive perspective. Being sex-positive incorporates the understanding that sex is a normal and healthy part of human development. Approaching sex education from this perspective can teach teens how to make healthy life-long choices. Tuesday December 13, 2011 from 12pm-1pm. Register here
On January 19, 2012 we are hosting the webinar, “Providing Excellent Services: What Every Adolescent Sexual Health Provider Should Know.” Whether you’re new to field of sexual health education or are a manager of health educators, this workshop provides vital information. To provide the best services you need to understand youth development issues and be skilled at communicating and relating to young people. The Adolescent Sexual Health Workshop (ASHWG) has created a set of criteria for hiring and evaluating adolescent sexual health providers that details all the skills and knowledge needed to make sure your programs and services are the best they can be. This material will be shared in the training. Thursday January 19, 2012 from 2pm-3pm. Register here
If you have a “wish list” of trainings you want to see offered, please contact us at email@example.com–and remember, as a member you get discounts on all our trainings and services! Get updated info on all events on our website
There’s been a lot of talk over the last couple of years about how we, as professionals, have to get on the social media bandwagon. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, blogging—all of these new tools are being touted as the next great, indispensible thing for non-profits. The problem is figuring out how to harness the power of these tools in a way that’s not only high-tech and glitzy, but that also helps you further the mission of your agency.
It’s great to be on the cutting edge, and to be the first to delve into new technology. But I’ve found that technology purely for technology’s sake is, well, counterproductive. That’s why I was so hesitant to jump into things like Facebook and Twitter (TeenNow California now has both a Facebook page and a Twitter account). I wasn’t really sure just how useful they would be, and knew that keeping the information fresh and up-to-date would be a real drain on our time. I’ve seen other agencies, members and colleagues use social media in creative ways. One agency created a virtual clinic where teens who used a certain virtual world program could go to get information about reproductive health and contraception. Other agencies have MySpace or Facebook pages that help disseminate important information about health and their programs. Still, until recently I wasn’t convinced that our main audience—professionals—would be interested in getting Tweets or visiting us on Facebook.
I’ve been participating recently in trainings and webinars geared toward harnessing social media to improve your visibility and outreach, and I’ve become very intrigued. We’ll have to see how this new blog, and our Facebook and Twitter accounts, really do impact the work we do. And, I’ll be looking into new and more effective ways to use social media to further our mission and get information out to members and the general public. If you have any ideas or want to share your stories of using social media, I’d love to hear them and maybe even publish them on this blog. Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.