All Articles Tagged "teen pregnancy"
The Chicago Department of Public Health’s Office of Adolescent and School Health is taking somewhat of a different and rather controversial approach with their new “Unexpected” teen pregnancy campaign. Ads for the campaign feature pregnant teenage boys. Through the campaign, the department hopes to promote the message that teen parenthood is not just the responsibility of the girl. The campaign is also designed to continue raising awareness about the consequences of unprotected sex.
“Improving the health and well-being of our youth is a key component in our comprehensive effort to make Chicago the healthiest city in the nation,” said Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Bechara Choucair in the campaign’s news release.
“These ads work to increase education and awareness which will in turn help reduce the number of teenage pregnancies in Chicago,” she continued.
A recent report conducted by the department, Births In Chicago, revealed that teen birth rates have declined by 33% in recent years, but the city still maintains one of the highest rates in the nation.
“Adolescence may be the healthiest time in most people’s lives, which is why it is often ignored, but by building awareness and making adolescent health a priority, we accomplish two things: We can help reduce sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies now and we can help teens and their families build a healthier future,” said Suzanne Elder, program director for the CDPH Office of Adolescent and School Health.
In addition to the campaigns, the CDPH has also launched a series of other initiatives to assist in the reduction of teen pregnancy rates in the city including:
Be Healthy Be You: a website that “provides adolescents and parents with information about sex, relationships, contraception, condoms and more.”
Sex-Ed Loop: a blog site with posts “written by and for adolescents and disseminated on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.”
Student and School-Level Outreach: brochures and other informative literature on contraceptive choices to be handed to students this month
Condom Availability Program: condom dispensers will be installed in various public high schools throughout the city.
What are your thoughts on the campaign?
It’s every parent’s worst nightmare besides losing their child: your 16-year-old daughter is pregnant. You want to hug her, kill her, yell at her and cry all at the same time. Depending on her decision, suddenly your family will find themselves thrown into a confusing mixture of emotions: disappointment, excitement, resentment and fear. Pregnancy affects the whole family and it’s a conflicting situation for a parent to face as they balance being supportive with forcing their child to face challenges that come with life’s ultimate responsibility.
Not only are you expected to keep calm that you’re going be a 40-year-old grandma, but now you’re expected to celebrate it too? Let’s face it: Your daughter’s is already pregnant, so the time for discussing safe sex and what she should’ve done is long gone. All you can do is present her with her options. But just because you only have so much say in terms of her choices, doesn’t mean you condone the behavior that brought her to this point.
It’s a situation that has no easy answers. Some people think that teen baby showers send a message that parents approve of teen pregnancy, but the fact is the baby’s coming and you pouting throughout the entire pregnancy isn’t going to help your daughter be the best parent she can be. I’ve seen a fair share of teen parents in the classes I teach and what separates those that thrive from those who allow themselves to be defeated by the challenges of teen pregnancy is the presence of a strong support system.
Read more on MommyNoire.com.
Although there is a common belief that the earlier you give birth, the easier it is for your body to “bounce back,” a recent study suggests that this may not be true, The Huffington Post reports.
The study actually suggests that teen pregnancy may raise risks of obesity.
“We know that teen pregnancy is tied to certain immediate risks, such as babies having low birth weight and mothers struggling to complete high school — and now we know that it is also associated with poor long-term health outcomes,” said Dr. Tammy Chang, a researcher who worked on the study.
“When taking care of teen moms, we often have so many immediate concerns — child care, housing, school, social and financial support — that we don’t often think of the long term health effects of teen pregnancy,” Chang continued.
The study was conducted on 5,520 women between the ages of 20 and 59. It compares those who gave birth in their teens to those who had not. Researchers analyzed the data and placed each woman into a group of either being a normal weight (with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9), overweight (with a BMI between 25 and 29.9) or obese (with a BMI higher over 30).
The survey revealed that 44.2% of the women who gave birth in their teens were obese, while 35.2% of the women who gave birth after 19 were obese.
The study did not find a huge difference between the groups of women who fell into the overweight category, but it did find that fewer women who gave birth in their teens fell into the normal weight category. Only 26.1% of participants who had children in their teenage years were found to be in the normal weight group.
Researchers went on to note that there is an association between teen pregnancy and obesity, but that does’t necessarily mean that teen pregnancy causes obesity.
Last Monday, the Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg unveiled a rather controversial teen pregnancy ad campaign. The ads have since popped up in subways and bus shelters around New York City. Depicted in the advertisements are photos of toddlers, accompanied by different messages and statistics that are intended to discourage teen pregnancy. According to the campaign’s press release, the Mayor announced the campaign and discussed its initiatives during one of his weekly Sunday radio addresses.
“This campaign makes very clear to young people that there’s a lot at stake when it comes to deciding to raise a child. We’ve already seen important progress in our effort to help more teens delay pregnancy – teen pregnancy has steadily declined in New York City – but there is more work still to be done. We aim to build on our success by asking teens to take an honest look at some of the realities of parenthood they may not have considered. By focusing on responsibility and the importance of education, employment, and family in providing children with the emotional and financial support they need, we’ll let thousands of young New Yorkers know that waiting to becoming a parent could be the best decision they ever make”, said Mayor Bloomberg of the campaign.
Since its unveiling, the Mayor and his administration have received much backlash over the controversial ads, as many found them to be offensive and shaming to teen parents and their children. Sexual and reproductive health organization, Planned Parenthood wasted no time speaking out against the campaign, reports the New York Daily News.
“The latest NYC ad campaign creates stigma, hostility and negative public opinions about teen pregnancy and parenthood rather than offering alternative aspirations for young people,” expressed Haydee Morales, V.P. of Planned Parenthood of New York City in an issued statement.
MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry also had a few choice words for Bloomberg regarding his latest campaign. In a recent episode of Melissa Harris-Perry the political commentator expressed that she certainly agreed that teens having children could make life rather difficult, but went on to read a letter addressed to the Mayor. In the letter she critiqued him for spending $400,000 of the city’s money on such a campaign at a time when teen pregnancy rates are at a historic low. She also addressed why his campaign is shaming to teen parents. An excerpt of that letter reads:
Dear Mayor Michael Bloomberg,“It’s me, Melissa. What happened? You have an enviable track record of supporting reproductive rights and advocating for common sense proven strategies that reduce unwanted and unplanned teen pregnancy… And the city’s teen pregnancy rate has declined more than 27% in the last decade. Good job. But this week, these troubling posters began appearing all around the city. Each one featuring a well-fed, gorgeous, but obviously distressed toddler who is spewing questionably interpreted data and plenty of social shame to his or her mythical parent…”
She went on to blast the ads individually. She criticized one for piggybacking onto society’s message that Black women are disposable and unwanted. Perry also expressed that the misleading statistics utilized in the campaign have the potential to lead many to unfairly blame teen mothers for America’s poverty crisis and that the ads have left her speechless.
Check out footage of Melissa Harris-Perry reading her letter in its entirety on the next page. What do you think of Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign?
As I made my way down the street today,with a lot on my mind as I headed to a doctor’s appointment, I found myself stopped at one of the many lights that separate me from my train station. While waiting, thinking that I should have checked the weather before I hit the streets in tight black jeans, I heard a mother say the following to one of the two children she was trying to give orders to. I guess he might have been calling himself having an attitude:
“Unfold your damn arms! I don’t know why the f**k you be actin’ like yo a** don’t know how to listen.”
…When I was young, most parents didn’t embarrass their children like that when at home, let alone curse them out like they stole something on the streets. They might put a finger in your face or put some bass in their voice in public, but you got yourself together just in time before they let you know you were going to get tore up when you both got home. In fact, my mother could make me feel just as guilty and bad by simply giving me the “Girl, you had better stop unless you want to see my belt when we get home” face or letting me know that she was truly disappointed in my behavior. But these days, people are talking uglier to their kids, referring to them as even uglier names and just can’t discipline them without calling them something you can find in Urban rather than Webster’s Dictionary.
Not only was this woman’s statement to the little boy embarrassing as people watched him get berated on the street, but it was unnecessarily harsh. I know that children can often be a hardheaded pain, but it always makes me cringe when I hear an adult curse like a sailor at a child who will most likely soak in that language and use it on someone else; Whether that be a classmate or a teacher who gets called everything but a child of God because they tried to keep them in check. People underestimate how much their outbursts or explicit conversations with other adults around their children can influence the language kids use with others. And sadly, using strong and unacceptable language to address children has become all too common.
Need another example? Well, just a few days ago, as I walked with a friend back to her place post-church, I heard a young mother talking to her friend while pushing around her son in a stroller. Out of nowhere, instead of calling him by the name she gave him, she chose to say, “Yeah, that little n***a tryna walk already.” As I watched my friend’s face turn up, I asked her, “Did she just call that little boy a “n***a”? She had, and after the fact, she laughed about it and went on with her day with her friend. I’m sure as the day went on she probably called him a lot more than that.
I don’t know about you, but it seems as though if folks aren’t cursing out their kids like Mo’Nique in Precious, they’re referring to them as everything from little “n***as” to “muthaf****s” and more. And they’re clearly doing it everywhere too: on the streets, in the stores (grocery AND retail), at the parks and at restaurants. A few are older parents, but many I find cursing up a storm are young parents, ones barely out of high school, maybe a few years into college who don’t seem enthusiastic about the responsibility that’s become a constant in their lives. I often wonder if these parents are the same ones who we hear about holding their babies under scalding water because they cried too much and too long, and starving them because they resent them. These stories get people’s blood boiling and remind folks of why not EVERY woman is fit to have children. I guess it’s a testament to the fact that if people aren’t ready to handle their responsibilities, and only find themselves yelling rather than talking to their kids, they might want to rethink their sexual activities and doing what’s putting them in these positions in the first place.
Maybe I’m being too judgmental, but I can’t see how cursing a child does them any kind of real good. All I know is that patience is wearing thin and the results are hurt and confused faces like the little boy I watched on the street today. And if you were wondering, after his mother’s rant, he looked like someone told him that he wasn’t and was never going to be anything. I’m not saying she was is a bad parent, but that behavior would probably rip her out of the running for “Mother of the Year.” Nowadays, both parents and kids are having the tantrums, and it seems as though it’s the parent who could use a time out…
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It seems as though every day there’s a new survey about teen pregnancy, whether it’s a CDC report of states with the highest and lowest teen pregnancy rates, or teens speaking on what and who most influences their sexual choices. “The Target Speaks” study finally gives a voice to this misunderstood demographic. The survey conducted by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy provide findings drawn from two surveys: one given to young unmarried adults between the ages of 18-29 and one of the adult population of 18 and older.
What I find when I talk to today’s youth is that more and more the challenges of sexual health are more about values and conflicting ideas of what healthy relationships are than they are about birth control and reproduction. I said it once and I’ll say it again: Most teens (not all, but most) are educated enough to lead a class about birth control, but they have no concept of self-love, respect, communication and what sex really means to them. We can give out all of the condoms in the world, but the truth is, many teens and adults alike continue to confuse love with sex and use sex as a means to build confidence, find love and acceptance. Interestingly enough, “The Target Speaks” survey reveals just how disconnected we are with today’s youth and our own values and how those values impact the influence we have over their decisions.
For example, about two-thirds of unmarried young adults 18-29 (67 percent) incorrectly believe that teens have the highest number of unplanned pregnancies. However, most unplanned pregnancies occur to women in their 20’s. The media is flagrant with infotainment like “16 and Pregnant,” “Teen Mom” and Lifetime’s “The Pregnancy Pact,” which may be responsible for misleading the public into believing that teen pregnancy occurs more frequently than it actually does. Although the United States is an industrialized nation with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, it is actually on the decline. According to the Guttmacher Institute, in 2008 teen pregnancy reached its lowest level in 40 years.
As for adults, the survey also reveals that although most Americans pride themselves on having sexual morality and values, our actions fail to fall in line with those beliefs. One in five young unmarried adults report that even if a condom is handy, they still will not use one unless their partner insists. Additionally, many of us aren’t practicing what we preach because our sermons are faulty. Four in ten young adults agreed with the statement, “It doesn’t matter whether you use contraception or not; when it is your time to get pregnant, it will happen.” A whopping 72 percent revealed they knew little or nothing about IUDs and 36 percent of young adults incorrectly believe that a woman should “take a break” from the pill every couple of years.
Meanwhile, as we are repeating to teens the importance of postponing parenthood until adult years, 67 percent of adults between the ages of 18-29 responded that, “Getting pregnant and having children is one of the most important things people ever do.” We spend so much time sending misleading messages of what not to do, that we fail to highlight the accomplishments we expect from of our youth such as completing school or getting a job. In this economy, it’s getting increasingly harder to find examples of how education and hard work pay off; you have to remember that for many teens the examples they witness daily is that the quickest way to independence, financial stability and housing is to have a baby. While many of their peers struggle to gain financial stability when choosing a more traditional path, those with children are living on their own and leading “adult” lives even if it is through government assistance. ”Your children are more likely to delay sex, pregnancy and parenthood if they feel they have meaningful goals for the future and a way to reach them,” stated the National Campaign in an article published in Essence magazine titled “8 Tips For Talking With Your Teens About Sex, Love and Relationships.”
How do we expect our youth to make healthy sexual choices when we aren’t even sure of our own sexuality? Just the other day I discussed with a group of young ladies the differences between love and sex. One of the ladies felt comfortable enough to reveal how she met the father of her child and stated the following: “It was at party. He grabbed my hand and the next thing I knew we were having sex.” My co-worker later questioned how I was able to keep my jaw from dropping to the floor and continue to talk to the girls about choices and the expectations of sex without going into “pedestal preaching” mode. The simple answer: I am comfortable with my own values and sexuality. When you are comfortable with your own choices and code of conduct you can therefore respect the choices of others and encourage them to challenge their thoughts and actions.
Before we judge what we view as reckless and irresponsible behavior, we must first reflect on our own faults as adults and pay close attention to the examples we are setting and the subliminal messages we send all the times we are NOT having the sex talk, or living recklessly ourselves. We can’t expect our youth to take an honest look at their attitudes and values if we aren’t even willing to do so ourselves. To learn about more about the survey’s findings, visit: “The Target Speaks.”
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee.
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At the end of last week there were multiple articles popping up online about the resurgence of pregnancy pacts. Hellobeautiful.com had uncovered a Facebook photo of four high school girls showing off their expectant bellies while their friends commented that the pic was “kute” and wondered who would be the first to drop. I didn’t even want to click on the articles because the last time I had heard about pregnancy pacts was last January when a Memphis high school came under pressure for 90 of its teens being pregnant or having a baby that school year. The rate was chalked up to abstinence-only teaching, accidental pregnancies and unfortunately the thought that being a teen mom is “cute.” Before that it was the 2008 Gloucester High pregnancy pact involving 17 teens that sparked the Lifetime Original movie, and being four years removed from that, I wanted to believe that there was no way this craziness had become a trend again, but there the blatant evidence was staring me in the face. Looking at the photo like someone trying to decipher hieroglyphics, all I could think was, where are the non-pregnancy pacts?
I don’t particularly get bent out of shape over teen pregnancies. I do in the sense that it’s an unfortunate situation, an accident of the utmost consequence, and a life-altering experience that makes me feel sympathy and compassion for the teens involved, but when it comes to intentionally deciding you are going to create a child knowing full well you cannot care for it, I can’t wrap my head around that choice. Dr. Boyce Watkins wrote a great five-point article to try to ease his frustrations with the reality behind the image seen in the photo. I love how he presented his ideas from an optimistic viewpoint of what he hopes are the circumstances behind these girls’ decisions, but I’m going to remix his list into my own non-pregnancy pact from the perspective of a teen girl. If you’re at the point of considering making a pregnancy pact there’s no reason to sugar coat reality; you need the facts laid out for you in the form of tough love.
- We are not fully equipped to provide for any kids without depending on the help of the state or living off of relatives until we are deep into our 20s. We can be as optimistic as we like but the fact is that if we’re in high school, still living with a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, or cousin because we don’t have the means to provide for ourselves, possibly because we aren’t even of a legal working age yet. Considering we can’t provide for self, we certainly can’t provide for another without being a burden on someone else in order to keep up with the pregnashians. Making that decision in spite of this knowledge is not fair to myself, my child, my family, or society.
- While attempting to become pregnant we’re also putting ourselves at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV. Knocked up may not be the only thing we get while we forego protection to have a baby. The HIV rate for women in certain areas of the US now rivals African nations and it’s not slowing down. Just because the virus is no longer a death sentence doesn’t mean it’s easy to live with by any means, not to mention it can be passed on to the child, like other infections such as Herpes. It’s selfish to play with our health and the health of our baby in that way.
- Our children’s fathers will not be in our lives forever. High school sweethearts that turn into 40-year marriages are not a dime a dozen. The likelihood that we will be broken up by the end of the school year, let alone the end of our high school career, let alone the end of my nine-month pregnancy term is far greater. Since this still seems to be a trend, it bears emphasizing that a baby will not keep a boy, if anything the feeling of being trapped will push him away even more. In the slight chance that my child’s father will stick around and be a father, his financial means are the same as mine meaning there isn’t much he can do for our baby.
The CDC released a report recently, revealing the U.S. teen birth rate decreased again in 2010. Almost every state saw a decline in teen births from 2007-2010, but Arizona experienced the biggest drop at 29 percent. In fact, U.S. births by mothers of all ages dropped in 2010, and experts cite the economy as the biggest factor. Although the highest rates of teen births are still found within the Black and Latino communities, the decline was seen among all races and ethnicities.
Mississippi, New Mexico, Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana still lead with the nation’s highest teen pregnancy rates. New England states including New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey continue to have the lowest teen birth rates in the country. The report defeats the stereotype that teen pregnancy is limited to urban areas and sex education and pregnancy prevention efforts may have also significantly influenced the falling rate.
With an unstable economy and employment rates staggering to grow, it may very well be that teens and people in general are seriously considering the costs associated with building a family. Offered more options when it comes to accessing birth control and relieved from the pressure of affording sexual healthcare, more women are choosing to take advantage of the contraceptive options that are available to them. What’s important about this study is that somewhere, for some reason, young people are listening and actively choosing not to become teen parents. It brings to light that traditional, more conservative states may benefit from welcoming alternatives points of view when it comes to sex education.
Why do you think that teen pregnancy rates are decreasing?
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Access to condoms, STD testing, and family planning information and treatment without having to go through parental channels has been great for young girls in many ways. Some teens can’t talk to their parents about certain things and others don’t truly have a parental figure in their lives to seek guidance from so it’s been very beneficial to have services available in schools or through other social organizations that can fill the void when needed.
But there comes a point when boundaries are pushed too much and parents are kept too far out of the loop, and that line has been crossed in the UK. A government program there allows teenage girls to receive birth control implants at school without their parents’ knowledge and consent, and some parents are outraged—as they should be.
More than just the blatant disregard for parental rights, parents are also concerned about their daughters’ health. Implanon, the 3-inch long plastic matchstick that’s surgically installed beneath the surface of the skin under the arm, is effective for up to three years, and according to one mother, the device was placed in her daughter without any consultation with her family doctor, she simply filled out a short medical history.
Parents say they’ve had to search their daughters underarms to determine whether they’ve been implanted and that their right to protect their children has been taken away, while other opposers like the Family Education Trust believe this method will cause teens to be even more sexually reckless. The latter concern is similar to those who believe teaching anything other than abstinence will cause teens to be promiscuous which is naive, but the parents have legitimate concerns.
At the age of 13, the age which the schools will implant these girls, teenagers are not in a position to make a long-term decision about their health, not just sexually, but overall. Hormones in birth control can have long-term effects and it’s important that girls know just what their signing up for when they receive these implants. It shouldn’t be the case that teenage girls only seek resources when they are in trouble–such as abortions or emergency contraceptives, but I don’t think parents should be kept out of the discussion when it comes to an eighth grade girl who is considering becoming sexually active. It’s also not clear whether any type of education accompanies these procedures and that’s just as important as the implant itself because birth control does not prevent STDs.
The attitude from the school system, and even a number of commenters on an article Jezebel wrote on the subject seems to be prevent teen pregnancy by whatever means necessary. The government reports that teen pregnancy has in fact been reduced since the program has been introduced, but there may be other consequences to giving a 13-year-old too much freedom over her sexual life at that age. Ultimately it’s a parent’s job to protect and guide their child in all areas at that age and a school system shouldn’t take that away.
What do you think about this program’s policy of implanting birth control in teens without parental consent? Should the US adopt a similar program since it’s effective?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Editor’s Note: All statistics can be found verified using the links at the bottom of the article.
The face of teenage pregnancy has become a diversified collection of races and gender as shows like The Secret Life of the American Teenager and 16 & Pregnant have revealed the challenges and successes that both teen mothers and fathers of all backgrounds face. Still when many hear the term “baby mama” they assume that the reference is to a young black woman complete with a baby stroller, public assistance and a dim if not non-existent future.
What you may not know is that the teen pregnancy rate among black teens has declined 44% and the teen birth rate has declined 47%. This means a good portion of our teens understand the value in waiting to become parents, if not waiting to become sexually active entirely. What it doesn’t mean is that our jobs as parents and mentors are over as 50% of African-American girls in the US will become pregnant before their 20th birthday.
ESSENCE magazine recently teamed up with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy for an unprecedented survey of 1500 black youths, ages 13-21 to better understand their attitudes about sex, relationships, values and the media. The survey titled, “Under Pressure: What African-American Teens Aren’t Telling You about Sex, Love and Relationships” also highlights the progress the black community is making with helping our teens make better decisions about sex while shedding some light on where the missed connections lie when it comes to preventing unplanned pregnancy and educating them about safer sex.
If you’re not talking to your teen about sex, you better believe that they are learning about it from someone or something, and unfortunately many of these sources don’t always provide the healthiest or most accurate information. Check out the following list of some key sources that the survey revealed influences the sexual decision-making of African-American teens as well as some other important key findings: