What are characteristics of successful coalitions that work towards teen pregnancy prevention?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Different traits can be found amongst successful coalitions that work towards preventing teen pregnancy.  Much of this is based upon the approach that the coalition takes.  However, there are some traits that are common in many different coalitions.  In a recent study, the role of teens in the process of reducing teen pregnancy was seen as critically important:  "Teens were infrequently viewed as primary decision-makers in the selection of interventions."  Viewing teens as part of the solution process helps to validate voice and create active steps towards a successful reduction in teen pregnancy. The same study asserted that prevention starts with a focus on education: "Communities with family planning services as hub agencies were more likely to address reproductive services and reproductive health education. Communities with child advocacy or youth-serving agencies were more likely to focus on other intervention categories. About two-thirds of the interventions were evaluated by either process or outcome measures, or by both."  The study concludes that both elements are critical to successful coalitions' approach to reducing teen pregnancy.  Activation of voice and dissemination of education are elements that coalitions use to help establish success.

These traits can be seen specific coalitions' approach to reducing teen pregnancy.  For example, in the approach taken by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina (APPCNC), one sees the presence of education aimed at teens.  For example, in the inclusion of "A Game Plan For Older Teens," there is a direct appeal to older teens embracing the "dual protection method" of using two forms of contraception.  At the same time, the coalition uses relevant factual data to appeal to the sensibilities of a target population at risk:  "Right now, not enough people know their status. In other words, a lot of folks out there have HIV or something else and they just don’t know it. There are 20 million new STD cases in the US every year – and half are in someone 15-24 years old." This approach includes both the activation of teen voice and the need to provide education as a two pronged approach in reducing teen pregnancy.

In the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition, there is an emphasis to facilitate greater education such as linking its website to the Human Sexuality curriculum in Texan schools.  At the same time, the site seeks to make teens an active agent in the process of reducing pregnancy by asking them to take surveys and reporting the assessed data of the survey. The use of education and individual voice are critical aspects to the site, reflecting the coalition's belief that both elements are vital in addressing the problem and challenges of teen pregnancy.

Finally, the coalition formed by the Alabama Department of Public Heath involves teen voice in their approach to reducing teen pregnancy:  "The Mobile County Health Department (MCHD) has established partnerships with 11 youth-serving organizations and 4 family planning health care providers at 8 sites to recruit teens into the program."  The belief of teens as active agents in the process of reducing pregnancy in their population is evident in this coalition's prevention approach.  Additionally, the ADPH's website interfaces with thinkteen.org, a site that "empowers young by providing accurate information and resources to assist them in making responsible, informed decisions to avoid unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases." 

In these three coalitions, teens are part of the solution process.  Combined with with an approach steeped in education, it becomes clear that coalitions view success in solving the challenges of teen pregnancy in a distinct and clear manner.