PPNEO Observes Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month

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"Teachable Moments" Provide Opportunities for Parents to Talk About Preventing Teen Pregnancy

PPNEO Observes Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month in May. While the teen pregnancy rate has declined steadily over the past two decades, the U.S. still leads the industrialized world in teen pregnancy rates. Statistics compiled by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy bear out the need for comprehensive sex education — more than 2,000 teen girls in the United States get pregnant every day; and 3 in 10 teen girls in the US will get pregnant at least once before age 20.

To continue combating teen pregnancy locally, Planned Parenthood of Northeast Ohio (PPNEO), the region’s largest provider of preventive health care for low- and moderate-income women, focuses on a three-part approach emphasizing prevention first – services, education and advocacy.

PPNEO provides comprehensive, preventive, confidential services at its 15 health centers throughout northeast Ohio. Fees are based on household income, and no one is turned away due to an inability to pay. Services available to its teen patients include:

  • Birth control information and supplies, including emergency contraception
  • Gynecological medical services, including annual Pap and breast exams
  • HPV (Gardasil) and hepatitis vaccines
  • Pregnancy testing, options and services
  • Screening and treatment of sexually-transmitted infections, including HIV

counseling and testing

PPNEO served nearly 23,000 education and outreach clients in FY 2010 through its education programs for teens, teachers and parents. One of its hallmark education programs for teens is called Triple T — Teens Talking to Teens. It is a youth development and peer education program for teens age 13-17 to address unmet sexual health needs of Cleveland and Akron-area youth. Triple T’s goal is to support the development of healthy lifestyles and responsible choices among northeast Ohio adolescents. The program is a collaboration of Hispanic UMADAOP, City of East Cleveland, Boys and Girls Club of the Western Reserve and PPNEO.

“As a parent, I’d encourage other parents to take advantage of ’teachable moments’ you encounter with your kids to continue instilling your values to them and to begin or continue conversations about preventing teen pregnancy,” said PPNEO CEO Tara Broderick.

Research also confirms the important role that parents play in their teens’ lives. The recently published With One Voice 2010 report commissioned by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy found that:

  • Teens continue to say that parents (46%) most influence their decisions about sex. By comparison, just 20% say friends most influence their decisions.
  • Eight in ten teens (80%) say that it would be much easier for teens to delay sexual activity and avoid teen pregnancy if they were able to have more open, honest conversations about these topics with their parents.
  • Six in ten teens (62%) wish they were able to talk more openly about relationships with their parents.
  • Six in ten teens (63%) and adults (62%) agree that the primary reason teens don’t use contraception is because they are afraid that their parents will find out.

A teachable moment could be watching an episode of a popular television show that talks about teen pregnancy. With One Voice 2010 confirms the power of media in teens’ lives — most teens (79% of girls and 67% of boys) agree with the following statement: “When a TV show or character I like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes me think more about my own risk of becoming pregnant/causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it.”

The Web can be another way to share teachable moments with teens, who are digital natives. The National Quiz, of which Planned Parenthood is a national sponsor, is a scenario-based online quiz that gauges what teens would do in different situations that could lead to teen pregnancy.

Locally, PPNEO’s Triple T program participants took the quiz. All of the students earned a perfect score. One commented that the quiz was “common sense.”

Parents and teens can take it together or separately and talk about the results. It is available at stayteen.org until May 31.

PPNEO also helps reduce the number of teen pregnancies by representing the thousands of parents and other adults across the region who support comprehensive sex education in our schools. PPNEO lobbies at the Statehouse and in Congress for medically-accurate, comprehensive sex education for our teens.

PPNEO (ppneo.org) provides essential reproductive health care, family planning services and sexuality education to 78,000 women and men at 15 health centers in 21 counties throughout Northeast Ohio. PPNEO strengthens individuals, families and communities by promoting healthy and responsible decision making about parenthood, relationships and sexual health.

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Celeste Ribbins
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