Help Teens Stay Teens

I originally planned to write today’s report about a labor issue…

And on this May Day, I do send good wishes and thanks to all in the labor movement, including teachers fighting for their students and their own rights!!

…But the issue I am focusing on this morning is more in the nature of preventing labor of a kind. And it includes a challenge to adults that many of us fear more than facing a tax auditor or pre-planning for our own final expenses. This challenge requires

  • A) talking to a teenager, and
  • B) talking sensibly about sex.

nd-promo-materials-now-availableMay 7, next Wednesday, is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. This campaign encourages teens to stay teens, inviting them to take a quiz designed to get teens thinking about choices before they arise. But the real challenge here is to adults.

Listen to today’s Education Town Hall (track 2) for more….

…and/or read on.

Please forward widely.

Think Well Before Leaping Time

“The National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy is a really good opportunity to start a conversation,” says Jessica Sheets Pika, spokesperson for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. “Have a conversation with the teens in your life about sex. Help them to think through choices they face, to see that all of these things do have consequences.”

For example, she notes, prom season is coming up, and it’s essential that a young woman think hard about choices and consequences long before the event. Alone with her date, after the prom – maybe in a hotel room or in an older friend’s apartment or car – when expectations and excitement are high is not the best time for careful, clear-thinking consideration. Moreover, use of alcohol and drugs can impair good decision-making at any age, and one-third of young adults report that “use of alcohol prompted them to do something sexual.” It’s the job of adults to help teens be prepared for choices before those choices comes up. And, while the ultimate burden and life-changing effects of a pregnancy fall on young women, the conversations must also take place with young men.

To help in this work, The National Campaign and its partners created an informative and plan-provoking interactive quiz, called “StayTeens.”

A discussion guide, in English or Spanish, is also available for the StayTeens Quiz. In addition, the quiz itself can be downloaded in English or Spanish for use where computer access is not easy. The print version may not be as exciting as the interactive version, Pika admits, but it is just as useful in helping teens and adults begin the necessary conversations that will help prevent teen pregnancy.

Find it, share it. #dosomething

Huge Disparities Persist

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy was founded in 1996 with the goal of reducing the teen pregnancy rate in the United States by one-third over a ten-year period (1996-2005). This goal was reached, but there is still much more work to be done, and the campaign now focuses on reducing the high level of unplanned pregnancy in the United States, especially among single, young adults where the vast majority of such pregnancies occur.

Here in DC, nearly 900 babies are born to teenage mothers each year. The majority of these births take place in two wards – Ward 8, which includes Historic Anacostia where the Education Town Hall is broadcast, and in nearby Ward 7.

For example, 2011 births to teens aged 15-19 (879 citywide), were recorded follows:

  • Ward 8 – 293
  • Ward 7 – 215
  • Ward 5 – 125
  • Ward 6 – 81
  • Ward 4 – 89
  • Ward 1 – 62
  • Ward 2 – 7
  • Ward 3 – 0

In addition, 16% of teen births in DC are second children, i.e., two children born to a mother who is not yet 20 years old herself. The DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy recently learned from teens that DC teens with high goals and expectations understand the risk of teen pregnancy. But this is “not so for teens with less ambitious goals” (link to full report; note: the local and national campaigns are similarly minded, but the National Campaign does not have local affiliates.)

So, in DC and many other areas around the country, much work needs doing in improving the overall lives and expectations of our young people.

Meanwhile, however….

Take Action

Adults: Educate yourselves — StayTeens materials and other links here are just a start — and prepare to undertake conversations that can help change lives right now: lives of a young couple, of their communities who bear costs associated with teen births, and of children given a chance to come into the world with parents better prepared emotionally and financially for the biggest challenge humans face.

Teens: Take the StayTeens Quiz and talk to adults around you. We may not all have made the best choices, but we all know a little about the consequences of choices, good and bad. And begin now to think way in advance of high pressure situations to consider consequences of the choices you make.

Twitter users, join the May 7 ThunderClap


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