In last week’s blog post highlighting Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, we talked about how the US compares to the rest of the industrialized world with respect to teen sexual behavior and pregnancy rates. Let’s zoom in to look at Maine and how we compare to other U.S. states.
Did you know that Maine has the 6th lowest teen pregnancy rate in the U.S.? Maine’s teen pregnancy rate of 43 (per 1,000 females ages 15-19) is much lower than the U.S. rate of 68. The lowest rate in the U.S. is found in New Hampshire (33) and the highest rate in the U.S. is in New Mexico (93).
Many factors affect teen pregnancy rates ~ demographics, socio-economics, education policies and access to health care resources for young people. Here are some of the things Maine has done right in order to lower what were some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the U.S. 30 years ago:
Last week, as we began our celebration of Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, I noted that the U.S. has experienced dramatic decreases in teen pregnancy rates over the past decades. While this is an excellent trend, our teens still lag far behind their peers in other countries.
Take a look for yourself: the U.S. has much higher teen birth rates than other western,
industrialized countries and it doesn’t stop there– teen pregnancy and abortion rates are also much higher in the U.S.
On average, U.S. teens initiate sexual activity around the same age and are no more sexuality active than teens in other countries.
So, what are we, in the U.S. doing wrong?
Or to put a more positive spin on the question, what are other countries doing right? Continue reading
Here in Maine, spring has finally sprung—the birds are singing, bees are buzzing, the trees and flowers are budding and blooming. It’s so wonderful.
All this talk about the birds and the bees has me thinking about Maine’s highly successful efforts to reduce the rate of teen pregnancy!
On May 1, 2013, the FPA joins organizations across the country to recognize the 12th annual National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. The purpose of the National Day is to focus the attention of teens and their parents on the value of avoiding too-early pregnancy and parenthood. How are we doing that? Continue reading
When teens have questions about sexual health issues, where do they go for answers?
Some may turn to parents or other trusted adults in their lives.
Others will ask their friends or youngish relatives, like that cousin who’s a couple of years older.
Most rely on the internet, using Google and YouTube to search for the information they want.
Luckily for Maine teens, the FPA — with lots of input from Maine teens and young adults — has created a new online resource.
Maineteenhealth.org has useful information about birth control and STD’s. And it has links to resources about LGBTQ health, relationships, mental health, and substance abuse.
And, it’s got two ways for young people to submit their own anonymous questions – directly through the website or using a new text-messaging service.
Check it out and share it with teens you know who may have sexual health questions.
If you’re a teacher or school nurse who wants some FREE posters promoting the new website & texting service for your school, contact email@example.com with the words ‘mth poster order’ in the subject line.
If you’d rather print your own poster, click here for a PDF file.
This week, we welcome a guest blogger — Faith, a high school student from the greater Bangor area.
A group of twenty-five teens sat in a room, buzzing with excitement at the chance to voice their opinion. In public, the topic they were discussing would cause some awkward stares, hushed voices, and very quiet teenagers.
Sexual health is one of those topics that is rarely discussed seriously, but is incredibly important to be informed about. When I was given the chance to educate parents and teens, I – along with many others – jumped on it.
I’m Faith, a teen heavily involved with a group called Project AWARE. Project AWARE is a non-profit organization based in Southern Maine, whose goal is to empower and educate youth by giving them the opportunity to make movies or videos on very important topics in life.
The Family Planning Association of Maine contracted with Project AWARE to help them create a 10-20 minute movie on teen sexual health, along with four one-to-two-minute videos, called scenarios.
This long journey to create the movie began last December. Continue reading
“In any given society, at any given moment in history, people become sexual the same way they become anything else. Without much reflection, they pick up directions from their social environment.”
~ John H. Gagnon, Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, Stony Brook University
Professor Gagnon’s statement speaks to one of my biggest questions:
Why does the U.S. have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates of any developed country? Continue reading
Continuing our focus on National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, this week’s post is written by one of FPA’s Pregnancy Prevention Coordinators.
I’ll never forget it. Standing in front of a hundred or so eighth-grade boys, I asked them where they got their information about sex and staying healthy. After an uncomfortable silence, one brave soul shrugged and said “Mostly…from the streets.”
The ‘streets’ he was referring to are lined with oak trees and sidewalks. But, I knew what he meant. I had been asked to speak to that group of boys because the principal discovered an underground condom ring going on within the school. Yep, that’s right. Some entrepreneurial boy realized he could make good money selling condoms to his classmates. The same condoms, mind you, that can be legally obtained in about ten different stores in their town. This makes you wonder…
When I asked them if they had these conversations with an adult at home, they slowly shook their heads. A few gave me a patronizing smile with that “You’re outta your mind, lady.” look. I have posed this question to students before, so I wasn’t surprised by their reaction. But, something about that particular instance has always stuck with me. Continue reading
April 2-8, 2012 is National Public Health Week.
Since 1995, the first week of April has been designated as a time to focus on critical public health issues with the goal of helping people live longer, happier, healthier lives.
The main themes for the National Public Health Week 2012 are:
- Active Living and Healthy Eating
- Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs
- Communicable Diseases
- Reproductive and Sexual Health
- Mental & Emotional Well-Being
It’s so good to see a national public health campaign discuss reproductive and sexual health as critical services in such a no-nonsense manner!
Why is the issue of reproductive and sexual health an important public health issue? Continue reading
After writing last week’s blog post about Sarah, my new teen pregnancy prevention hero, I realized that our readers might not be familiar with the term “evidence-based” as it relates to sexuality education.
I thought I’d write an explanation. But when I found myself mired deeper and deeper in more and more complex terminology, I started to worry.
How could I possibly explain this stuff without putting my readers to sleep?
Then the proverbial light bulb came on and I decided to put together a Top Ten List, a la David Letterman, comparing comprehensive, evidence-based pregnancy prevention programming with abstinence-only-until-marriage education. So, here goes… Continue reading
Author’s Note: From time to time, On the Front Lines features an FPA program. This week — the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative in Rockland.
Like many Maine communities, Rockland has a teen pregnancy rate higher than the state average. However, while several towns have seen their teen pregnancy rates decrease sharply in the past decade, Rockland is one of the few towns whose rate has remained consistently high — at more than double the state average.
Enter Keegan Ross.
A recent graduate of Rockland District High School, Keegan is a natural leader — he served as Senior Class President and Student Senate Treasurer. Even as a busy senior, Keegan still felt a need to take on another role — to increase awareness about his hometown’s high teen pregnancy rate.
Together with the Student Senate and School Nurse, Ilmi Carter, Keegan organized and spearheaded a week-long project to bring teen pregnancy prevention awareness and education to his fellow students.The awareness week included lunchtime education sessions, an after-school screening of the movie Juno followed by a discussion about teen pregnancy, and a student survey.
Over 300 students completed the survey and the results are really interesting. Sixty-six percent of students say they feel comfortable talking with their parents about sexual health issues. And 77% of students say there is a need for family planning services at their school.
Keegan’s project at Rockland District High School is just one part of a much bigger story. Continue reading