What are the characteristics of successful teen pregnancy prevention coalitions?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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The state of Texas is one of the highest ranking states for teen pregnancy rates and also one of the highest ranking states that has seen more progress in changing the rate. On a scale of 1 to 50, 1 being the state with the lowest teen pregnancy rate and 50 being the state with the highest teen pregnancy rate, Texas ranks 46, with New Hampshire ranking 1 and New Mexico ranking 50. As of 2012, 44.4 teenage girls in Texas out of every 1,000 became pregnant; however, Texas also saw a 43% decrease in its teen pregnancy rate. While not the highest rate of change, the rate certainly shows that what the state is doing is making a difference, especially considering that Texas is one of the highest ranking states for teen pregnancy. Similar to all teen prevention programs, the coalition in Texas aims to expose the "unrealistic expectations, misinformation, and myths" surrounding teen pregnancy and sexual health (The Texas Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy, "Our Strategy" ). The coalition also aims to use facts and research to support abstinence and expose the "realities teen pregnancy presents to teens, their children, and society" ("Our Strategy"). It also aims to teach teen pregnancy prevention strategies, such as make parents more aware of their role in sex education, teaching sex education in schools, getting adults more involved, and making contraception more readily available to teens. But one thing that particularly stands out about Texas is that the state realizes many adults in Texas have very base feelings toward anything having to do with teen sexuality, leading to misinformation and even adult muteness on the subject of teen sexual health. Such muteness has "created a society that almost completely ignores one of the major barriers to success--unintended pregnancy at a young age" ("Our Strategy"). Therefore, one thing that makes the Texas program different is that it realizes how vital it is for parents and adults to start taking an active role and are working with "individuals and organizations" to set up seminars and engagement trainings aimed at training adults to educate teens in sexual health.

California has one of the more middling teen pregnancy rates ranking at 21 out of 51 with an estimated number of 26.5 pregnant teens out of every 1,000; however, California has also had one of the greatest success rates at diminishing teen pregnancy rates, leading to a 64% reduction. The state of California does not have a coalition per se, but the Office of Family Planning has established a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program. Some things that are particularly unique about California's program is it aims to develop youth leaders and educate teens in life skills. It also aims to get males more involved, both in pregnancy prevention and as fathers. The program has implemented different practices throughout the state of California. One approach that proved effective was having a guest speak out in the Los Angeles school district about her experience as being both a mother and HIV positive. Students were apparently so touched by her presentation that they wrote her "heartfelt thank you letters," proving that having others share their stories about sexual health is an effective approach due to being both emotional and sincere ("Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs: 2010 Best Practice Examples").

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