Although the prevalence of teenage pregnancy has fallen in recent years, statistics show that there are still well over 200,000 teenage pregnancies each year in the United States. This number is alarming for any parent who has a teen or a child who will soon enter their teenage years.
Do you ever worry that your family may be affected by teen pregnancy? Do you wonder how it could affect your child’s future as well as the life of the unborn baby? Teen pregnancy prevention is very important as the competition for college acceptances and lucrative careers is on the rise. Fortunately, there are a lot of programs available to help prevent teenage pregnancy.
Why is teen pregnancy prevention important?
Teen pregnancy prevention is still a large priority in the U.S. even though rates are decreasing. This is due to the fact that our national teen pregnancy rate remains higher than the rates in other industrialized nations. Is this due to a lack of education among our youth or maybe even more lenient parents? Either way, we as parents need to be aware of the programs that are out there to help keep our children on the right path.
Teen pregnancy prevention is especially important because it has a direct effect on the well-being of the teen parents as well as the unborn child. Teens who become pregnant increase their chances of dropping out of school at a young age and increase the costs of overall health care and foster care. There is also a wide range of developmental problems that children face who are born to teenage mothers.
Preventing teen pregnancy requires strong efforts from the entire community. This includes families, schools, social services, faith- and community-based programs, local government, and recreational centers. Developing and carrying out evidence-based pregnancy prevention programs require mentors and parents to understand the problem of teen pregnancy, including the understanding of the populations who are the most at-risk, teenage pregnancy trends, and the risks that are associated with teen pregnancy. While you can talk to your children about this at home, it is more likely to be effective if they are hearing the same message from various avenues in their lives.
By knowing this information, parents and mentors can help teens make informed decisions about their actions and the consequences of their behaviors. There are several initiatives that are currently implemented with the support of the government and various organizations that work to help increase the awareness and address the issue of teen pregnancy.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program is a government organization that funds many pregnancy prevention agencies around the United States. They use evidence-based programs and innovative approaches to prevent children aged 10-19 from becoming pregnant. Its main focus is on the populations who have the greatest need of their services.
One of their many successful programs takes place in Missouri. The organization, Better Family Life, Inc., has been funded by TPP to implement three successful evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs:
- Making Proud Choices!
- Promoting Health among Teens! Abstinence Only
- Sisters Saving Sisters
BFL partners with 22 St. Louis schools in poor, urban communities where teens are regularly exposed to violence and drugs. BFL staff helps the youth manage this extreme stress along with the daily stresses of typical adolescent development. By providing a safe place for these teens to talk to a trusted adult, they are able to learn about making positive choices regarding their lives and relationships.
Another successful program, Promoting Safer Sex in Tennessee (psst) – A Clinic-Based Intervention, located in Tennessee, is an evidence-based program that works with sexually active girls who are between the ages of 13 and 19.
This program intervention uses motivational interviewing to help girls assess themselves and their lives and help them continue to move along the continuum of development and practice healthy behavior. Some specific goals of this program are to increase condom use, decrease the incidents of STIs, and decrease overall teenage pregnancy.
Abstinence is also a main focus of the program and it is encouraged as a choice. During their initial visit, girls are evaluated for their self-assessed needs and given education about healthy relationships, correct condom use, and anatomy and physiology. They are also provided with opportunities to role-play with a health educator to help further their understanding.
What do these programs have in common?
Successful pregnancy prevention programs all follow a step-by-step course of action to help keep children on the right path to achievement. These steps are based on five key principles:
- Parents need to be involved along with trusted mentors to help teenagers stay in school
- The main message of all pregnancy prevention programs needs to be abstinence and responsibility
- Teens need to have a clear option to continue their education after high school so they have hope for their future and a reason to stay in school
- Parents and mentors must have a comprehensive strategy
- Parents and mentors need to stay committed to the teens for a long period of time
Other Organizations That Help Prevent Teen Pregnancy
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancyworks to improve the lives and futures of children and help ensure that couples who conceive are committed and ready to help raise the next generation.
Similar to the programs offered by Better Family Life, Inc., The National Campaign focuses on connecting with at-risk youth to help them secure their future by providing them with both hope and education.