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October 5

Teen pregnancy: not so glamorous

Filed under: Celebrities,issues,media,News,pop culture — posted by Breakup Girl @ 10:45 am

Do reality shows like Teen Mom and 16 And Pregnantglamorize” teen pregnancy? That standard hand-wringer has always struck me as weird. Because um, those shows don’t exactly make teen pregnancy/motherhood look awesome.  They (unlike, SORRY, Glee) actually make it look pretty crappy — a lot more so than, say, carrying around a sack of flour for a week. Even when cute teen moms glam it up for celeb magazines (which are guilty of overglamorizing post-teen motherhood), teens — who, turns out, are also better at condoms than grownups — still know what’s up.

And now we have the numbers to show it: according to two brand-new studies commissioned by The National Campaign To Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “most teens (79% of girls and 67% of boys) agree that when a TV show or character they like deals with teen pregnancy, it makes them think more about their own risk of getting pregnant or causing a pregnancy and how to avoid it.” Other findings:

·         Among those young people who have watched MTV’s 16 and Pregnant, 82% think the show helps teens better understand the challenges of teen pregnancy and parenthood and how to avoid it.

·         76% of young people say that what they see in the media about sex, love, and relationships can be a good way to start conversations with adults.

·         About half (48%) say they have discussed these topics with their parents because of something they have seen in the media.

·         16 and Pregnant got young people talking and thinking about teen pregnancy─40% of those in the treatment group said they talked about the show with a parent, 63% discussed with a friend, and 37% discussed with a sibling.

·         93% of those who watched [a particular] episode agreed (53% strongly agreed) with the statement:  “I learned that teen parenthood is harder than I imagined from these episodes.”

This is all information we’re not so sure they’re getting in, say, abstinence-only sex ed — which, while we’re on the subject, glamorizes lies, shame, and fear. (And whose funding just got resuscitated, even as the Obama administration also awarded $155 million in federal grants to support evidence-based, medically accurate sex ed.)

Enough with the mixed messages, as Jessica Wakeman wrote at The Frisky, continuing: “If pregnant teen girls get their moment in the media’s graces, the least we can do is use it wisely. The alternative could be much, much worse.” Of course the media plays a role in the whole teen pregnancy ecosystem, but there are a whole lot of other reasons teens get pregnant, most of which are much, much more complicated and challenging than the simple notion of MTV cause-and-effect (which is exactly why we are reluctant to acknowledge and deal with them).  Teens are smarter than we give them credit for. Sometimes, in fact  — see phrases bolded above — they just want to talk.

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September 23

Take this sex ed quiz and win awesome prizes!

Filed under: issues,News,Treats — posted by Breakup Girl @ 9:41 am

It’s the National Sex Ed Week of Action! Now with PRIZES! (For the first reader who emails me with answers to the quiz below!) But first, a quick true or false:

• The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate among the world’s developed nations.

• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least one in four teen girls has a sexually transmitted infection.

• Half of sexually active young people in the U.S. will contract a sexually transmitted infection by age 25.

• Approximately 750,000 teenagers in the United States will become pregnant this year.

• The health care reform bill  included a renewal of $50 million per year funding of abstinence-only education for states until 2014.

This Op-Ed by an Atlanta teen about the importance of comprehensive, accurate sex ed is awesome.

Answer key: TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE, TRUE.

Which, now that we’re all riled up, brings us to the one with PRIZES! Planned Parenthood of NYC, BG’s local affiliate, is giving away a package of safe-sex goodies to the BG reader who emails me with the correct answers to all five of the following (at least peripherally) sex-ed related questions. Pencils ready?

1. In how many states is it still illegal for an unmarried heterosexual couple to live together?

2. What was the name of the first daytime television show to feature a same sex wedding?

3. What famous female advocate founded the first birth control clinic and later founded Planned Parenthood?

4. Japanese love pillows, which usually decorated with life-size animae characters are called what?

5. What species was the famous gay couple who raised an offspring named Tango together?

(And now, New Yorkers, join the campaign!)

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April 7

Teen birth rate down: yeah, but

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 7:58 am

According to the CDC, the teen birth rate has dropped. Whether this is unequivocally good news is unclear, given, for example, the convincing evidence that a preponderance of teens are saving themselves for a vampire. Here’s what Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, had to say:

“The drop in the teen birthrate after a two-year increase is welcome news, but the fact remains that nearly 750,000 teens become pregnant every year, a number that is still unacceptably high. When it comes to preventing unintended pregnancies and keeping our teens healthy and safe, hiding our heads in the sand is not a sound strategy. Our young people need education and support that comes from comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex ed.

“That’s why we must continue to invest in commonsense policies that achieve our shared goal of truly preventing unintended pregnancies and lowering the teen pregnancy and birthrate. Full funding for comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education programs will put our nation on a sustained path of decreased teen birthrates.

“President Obama and members of Congress have taken a major step forward in allocating more than $185 million in evidence-based, medically accurate teen pregnancy prevention programs. [Yeah, but…?!] Studies show that these types of comprehensive sex education programs are effective in reducing teen pregnancy.

“As we mark STD Awareness Month and the launch of our Get Yourself Tested, or GYT, campaign with MTV, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Family Foundation (www.gytnow.org), it is imperative that we take the issue of teen health seriously. An investment in comprehensive sex education is an investment in reducing STDs and unintended and teen pregnancies. It’s that simple.”

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February 3

These abstinence programs aren’t those abstinence programs

Filed under: issues,News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 11:49 am

The New York Times reports that a study of middle-school students has “found for the first time that abstinence-only education helped to delay their sexual initiation.” Uh oh? The finding “is already beginning to shake up the longstanding debate over how best to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.”

Okay okay! Nobody panic! Keep reading.

“[T]he abstinence-only classes in the Jemmott study…unlike the federally supported abstinence programs now in use, did not advocate abstinence until marriage. The classes also did not portray sex negatively or suggest that condoms are ineffective, and contained only medically accurate information. [This] abstinence-only course was designed for the research, and is not in current use in schools.” [Emphasis added.]

Well, there you go. Look, the debate has never been about abstinence-only vs. “…and, for your homework, please have sex this afternoon.” It’s moralistic, inaccurate abstinence-only vs. comprehensive and realistic: please wait; if you don’t, please be responsible. Though there are those who will misrepresent this research as surely as they misrepresent the effectiveness of condoms, it’s actually yet another vote in our favor.

Update: This (PDF) just in from our heroes at Guttmacher: “While the evaluated program is the first abstinence-only intervention to demonstrate this positive impact in a randomized control trial, it was not a rigid ‘abstinence-only-until-marriage’ program of the type that, until this year, received significant federal funding. The evaluation, therefore, adds important new information to the question of “what works” in sex education, but it essentially leaves intact the significant body of evidence showing that abstinence-only- until-marriage programming that met previous federal guidelines is ineffective.”

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