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
Another summer break is coming to a close and in the next couple of weeks hordes of eager learners, from preschoolers to college students, will be heading back to school. And, of course, all of their teachers and professors have been preparing their classrooms and lesson plans.
Going back to school, at whatever grade level, is a BIG deal. So big, that I felt compelled to say something about it in this week’s On the Front Lines.
But I just wasn’t sure what to say. I could discuss the importance of comprehensive sexuality education. Or I could write a piece about the sexual development of young people, with a link to our resources for parents. I just wasn’t sure what would be most helpful to our readers.
My problem was solved the moment I came across this — Continue reading
Are you feeling ready for a career change but you’re just not sure what your next move might be?
Allow me to assist you.
Last week a colleague pointed out this little gem on the 40 Days for Life website. Apparently you can get credit at “Pro-Life University” for protesting in front of the FPA offices in Augusta.
This is just the sort of tidbit that fuels my imagination and I’m wondering what classes at a “pro-life university” might entail.
Here’s a list I came up with — Continue reading
After reading last week’s post of On the Front Lines, a colleague asked me a couple of really good, pointed questions.
Wasn’t I putting a lot of pressure on parents — telling them they had to get comfortable talking about sex with their teens? What about those times when parents and teens just can’t talk about sexuality, for whatever reason?
He raised such good points, I decided they were worthy of further discussion. Continue reading
Last week I wrote about an article by former U.S. Attorney General, Jocelyn Elders, and what she called the “hormonal imperative” teenagers have when it comes to exploring their sexuality. I pointed out the fine line FPA staff have to walk when working with teens on issues of sexuality and sexual activity.
The reality is, our staff have all been trained on how to talk with young people about sexual health issues and they get regular, ongoing training. Basically, FPA clinical staff are experts in the field of sexual health and they are about as comfortable talking about sexuality as a person can get. They get lots and lots of practice, each and every workday.
While we have these discussions with teens here at the FPA every day, we know that some of the most important conversations about sexuality happen in the home, between parents and their teens.
The late Sol Gordon, PhD was a clinical psychologist, educator and widely-respected sexuality educator, who wrote several books on the subject. In this essay, Gordon opens with the following scenario — Continue reading
I just read a wonderful article about teen sexual health, written by former U.S. Surgeon General, Jocelyn Elders. In the piece, Dr. Elders discusses adolescent development and makes a case for universal access to contraceptive care for teens and age-appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education for children of all ages.
Early in the article, Dr. Elders makes a bold statement. She says, “efforts to prevent teens from having sex have been largely unsuccessful in stemming sexual activity because teenagers have a hormonal imperative to explore their sexuality.” (emphasis mine)
Whoa! I’ve never heard anyone put it quite so bluntly — hormonal imperative indeed. But Dr. Elders doesn’t stop there; she continues her no-nonsense lesson in adolescent development with the following comments.
I knew Maine had dodged a bullet this spring when our state legislature rejected several anti-family planning, anti-choice bills. But seeing a recent report from the Guttmacher Institute gives me a new perspective on the results in my home state. And it reminds me of what a friend used to say. You’re not being paranoid– they really are out to get you.
According to the report, 80 new abortion restrictions were enacted in the first six months of 2011. That’s more than double the previous record of 34 abortion restrictions enacted in 2005!
Clearly, the proposed bills in Maine were part of a larger strategy on the part of those who would deny women the right to make their own decisions about their pregnancies.
When I look at the Guttmacher report, it’s clear to me that the term “war on women” used so frequently during the last legislative session was not an exaggeration. And here’s why… Continue reading
A big part of what I love about my job is the variety of conversations I have with Family Planning Association of Maine allies and donors, clients and other staff members. I get to write about family planning, from an insider perspective, and you get to write back — sharing your opinions, experiences, and ideas. How wonderful is that?
Whether you’re responding to a Facebook status update, commenting on a blog post, or replying to an email message — so many of you have insightful things to say about the FPA and the value of family planning services. Continue reading
Ah, summertime! After a cold, snowy winter and a cool, rainy spring, we’re finally enjoying warm, sunshine-y days. I remember the summers of my childhood in Lewiston — riding my bicycle with friends, paddling around in the city pool, eating Popsicles — trying to keep cool in the brick and concrete heat of my downtown neighborhood.
Fast forward a few years to when I was a boy-crazy, rock-music-loving, hormone-driven teenager. During my teens, summertime meant working extra hours at my job as a waitress in the local department store dinette. Gosh, even the word ‘dinette’ conjures up a simpler time when twenty-five cents bought you a cup of coffee and summer jobs for teens were plentiful.
Fast forward again, 35 years to the summer of 2011, and the outlook for teen employment is bleak. Across the United States, teens seeking entry-level jobs are competing with older Americans who suffered financial losses during the recession and have had to supplement their income. Experts are predicting that only 25% of teens will find employment this summer, down from 45% in 2000.
What, you might ask, do teen unemployment rates have to do with teen pregnancies? Well, if only one out of every four teens will have jobs this summer, I have to wonder — what will the other three out of four teens be doing? Continue reading
As the current session of the Maine Legislature winds down, I’ve been reflecting on the recent challenges the FPA faced to our mission to ensure that all Maine people have access to reproductive health care and the right to control their reproductive lives.
After last November’s election, it was clear that a major change had taken place. Not only in Maine, but throughout the country, a more conservative mood prevailed among voters. For the first time since 1974, both houses of the Maine Legislature were going to be Republican lead and there were many new legislators whose stance on reproductive rights was unknown to us. The election of an anti-choice governor caused jubilation among anti-choice activists.
What, I wondered, did this mean for family planning and abortion care in our state? Read the rest of this entry