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
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
Last week the conservative majority of a U.S. House subcommittee voted to completely eliminate the federal Title X Family Planning Program, cutting nearly $300 million in funding. They also voted to cut $85 million from the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and increase funding for abstinence-only education by $15 million.
Seems kind of crazy, right? Unfortunately, it’s been crazy times for women’s health care and reproductive rights in this country for a couple of years now. And the lunacy continues.
We’ve got people saying low-income women shouldn’t have access to birth control and people arguing that preventive care for women shouldn’t be covered by insurance. These are the same folks fighting against birth control coverage in the Affordable Care Act.
The recent subcommittee vote is merely political posturing since the Senate is sure to reject the proposed funding cuts. The vote to cut all funding for family planning is another in a long line of actions designed to… well, I’m not quite sure what they’re designed to do but I have a hunch.
I’ve made a list of what I think these conservative legislators may be trying to achieve with their actions. Let me know what you think. Continue reading
Just in time for the July 4th holiday, there was good news coming out of Washington last week!
On June 28, the Supreme Court upheld almost all of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This decision means that tens of millions of Americans who are currently uninsured will have access to comprehensive health insurance coverage, either through Medicaid or private insurance.
Here at the FPA, we’re thrilled with the Supreme Court decision because the ACA includes several provisions that are critical to the reproductive health of Maine women, teens, and young adults. These include: Continue reading
I’m afraid the seemingly endless rain this past week has resulted in mold growing in my brain. When I sat down to write this week’s edition of On the Front Lines rain was the only thing on my mind.
Rain, rain go away?
Raindrops keep falling on my head?
Save it for a rainy day?
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
“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