“There aren’t ‘women who have abortions’ and ‘women who have babies’.
Those are the same women at different points in their lives.”
~ Rachel Atkins, PA, MPH
I love this quote. It’s such a great reminder of the vast distance between the truth about abortion in the U.S. and the lies spread by the anti-choice movement.
The anti’s describe women who have abortions as selfish monsters who care only about themselves and their own lives. How are we to reconcile this hatefulness with the fact that 61% of women who have abortions in the U.S. already have at least one child. That’s right – mothers sometimes make the decision to have an abortion. Continue reading
Coach teaches a sex ed class in the movie "Mean Girls"
Last week, we talked about the high teen pregnancy and STD infection rates in the U.S. compared to other developed countries. It turns out that differing societal attitudes towards teen sexuality is the biggest factor accounting for the huge gap. European parents and other adults are much more accepting of teen sexuality and teens consider it the norm to take precautions when engaging in sexual activity.
Quite different from the “sex is bad” approach so common in this country.
Aside from changing our entire country’s cultural norms around sexuality, what can we do to reduce teen pregnancy and STD infection rates? 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
May is National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month.
Here at the FPA, every day is devoted to the prevention of teen and unplanned pregnancy. Our clinical staff, prevention staff, legislative advocacy staff, and the administrative staff that keep the business side of things going are all committed to helping women and men plan their families and avoid unwanted pregnancy.
But what about all the folks who aren’t doing teen pregnancy prevention work as part of their day job — is there anything the average person can do?
By way of answering that question, I’d like to tell you about Jessie.
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
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