Effective Approaches to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Effective approaches to prevent teen pregnancy
After reading numerous articles and abstracts in regards to the ever so intriguing topic of teen pregnancy, I’ve come to a conclusion which is a little different than I had expected. Before reading any of the literature on teen pregnancy, I was under the assumption that the sex education classes provided in school were an extremely effective weapon against unwanted teenage pregnancies. Of the literature references that I’ve used and those of which I have haven’t chosen to extrapolate on, many have reported results based on random surveys while others have conducted quantifiable research to reach their findings.

In an article by Dryfoos J in the Planned Parenthood Review, Dryfoos mentions some methods that have been proven to slightly impact the teenage pregnancy issue. The article, “Preventing teen pregnancy: what works,” the author tells us of what’s necessary for any program designed to prevent teen pregnancy to be effective. He states “To avoid unintended pregnancy among young persons, two conditions must be met: they must have the capacity and a reason to want to control their fertility.” This means that a teenager must have a reason to prevent herself from becoming pregnant as well as the means to do so. There are programs currently in place which help to provide a means to an end to this problem. They include family life education and birth control services. Programs which assist in providing a reason to not get pregnant include quality of life programs and expanding opportunities programs. Based on studies performed, two trends are emerging. These studies indicate that sex education can enhance knowledge but little evidence shows that these school based sex education programs have sexual activity or contraception use. Also, evaluations on the method of problem-solving have shown a reduced amount of risk-taking behavior as well as increase in the use of contraceptives for sexually active teenagers.
Another article that I chose was the Journal of Adolescent Health by K. A. Hacker, Y. Amare, N. Strunk, and L. Horst entitled “Listening to youth: teen perspectives on pregnancy prevention.” This article gives statistical evidence of a teen’s perspective on pregnancy prevention. This article gives us a very convincing detailed analysis of their survey including percentages of students who felt a particular way. Of 1000 surveys, the majority of 10th and 11th grade students believed that having more information on pregnancy and birth control would be the best way to improve on the reduction of teen pregnancies. This survey also showed that 63 % of teenagers have already had Sexual Intercourse by the time they had completed the 10th and 11th grades.
In the Journal of School Health, in May 2001 was an article entitled “Effectiveness of the ‘Baby Think It Over’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program” by Cheryl Somers, Cheryl and Mariane Fahlman speaks of a program that many school systems have adopted called “Baby Think It Over.” This program is a computerized simulation of a baby and the responsibilities that parents have to endure. It is geared towards teen-agers because the teen pregnancy rates in America are at least double of any country with similar economic background and culture. This article further evaluates the effectiveness of this new program using a controlled study in which 151 experimental students and 62 controlled subjects were used. These were all high school students of a suburban area of a Midwestern city. The average age of the students was 16.2 and they were all middle-class primarily white students, both male and female. Numerous studies were conducted, with inconclusive evidence of the programs effectiveness. One study showed that the subjects understood and had more realistic impressions of having children, while another showed that the students had no change of intentions in regards to teen parenting. This particular study showed no statistically significant effect. The article continues to say that a better evaluation study must be done to measure the effectiveness of the program.

Another abstract which builds importance onto a matter I have already spoken about is published in the Christian Science Monitor on September 5, 2002. This article which is titled “Teens, sex, and power of parents,” by Daniel B. Wood, highlights a national research study which finds a strong impact of mothers on their teenagers and sexual activity. Wood claims that parents are afraid to speak freely to their children in regards to sexual matter – and this is affecting the situation greatly. Those parents, especially mothers who have an open communication with their adolescents often come to find that their teenagers are waiting longer before initiating sexual activity and upon starting, they are using more protection than those who have no strong mother-teenager bond. This article is based on a report published about the largest-ever survey of adolescent sexual behavior. Most parents are unaware that their children are having sex and they also believe that their children do not want to hear things of this nature from their parents. The survey, however, confirmed that most parents do not know that their children are engaged in sexual activities. On the other hand, teenagers have responded that they would prefer a connection with their mother. The perception that their mother is warm and caring makes a huge difference in their actions.

All of the literary pieces that I have mentioned above tend to point to two major points: one, which is obvious and a second which was something which I believed to be the exact opposite. The first most important piece of information gained from my research is that parents need to be more involved in their teenager’s lives, especially mothers, as a good relationship of a child with his/her mother has often proven to reduce the risk of un-safe sexual appetite in teenagers. The second and most disturbing news to me is that the millions of dollars spent on sex-ed have not altered the sexuality factor in teenagers enough. Some researches agree that teenagers should be taught more about sexual relations and their consequences while others believe that they should be taught more thoroughly on the subject. Right now, as I have discussed before – what is being taught to students is not the reality of the topic, but a non-controversial “G” rated version of the dangers of early sexual activity. I believe that neither of the two solutions will work without the other. Parents must speak to their children regardless of how awkward it may feel in addition to better and more informative education on the sexuality and its repercussions.


Bibliography
Dryfoos J. “Preventing teen pregnancy: what works.” Planned Parenthood Review, October, 2002, pp. 6-7.


Hacker, Karen A; Amare, Yared; Strunk, Nancy; Horst, Leslie. “Listening to Youth: “Teen Perspectives on Pregnancy Prevention.” Journal of Adolescent Health, April, 2000, pp.279-288.


Somers, Cheryl L.; Fahlman, Mariane M. “Effectiveness of the ‘Baby Think It Over’ Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program.” Journal of School Health, May, 2001, Vol. 71 Issue 5, p188, 9p.
Wood, B. Daniel. “Teens, sex, and power of parents.” The Christian Science Publishing Society, September, 2002.