In my clinic, we are now seeing a higher rate of teens seeking services before or shortly after their first sexual experience, in contrast to a decade ago when most teens reported being sexually active for a year before seeking contraception. I attribute this to our outreach education program, an effective peer education program, collaboration with key stakeholders, the use of technology as a way to decrease barriers to information and as well as our focus to eliminate access barriers to effective educational and clinical services for teens.
All that said, we are seeing an interesting rise in teen pregnancy in older teens. This trend is also happening across the country. This begs the question ... why?
With several new pregnancies among our older teens over the past 6 weeks, me and my teen staff sat down to examine the issues and begin to develop a plan to approach this new target audience. We've interviewed a number of teen moms and newly pregnant teens to gain insight into the thoughts behind their pregnancies. The concensus seems to be that although most of them did not actively pursue pregnancy, there were thoughts in their heads that involved a lack of vision for the future and a feeling of disconnect. Some of our contacts expressed feeling like they didn't really have much to look forward to and couldn't see a clear path for their future. Of the girls that had given birth, all of them expressed that even though they totally loved their children, they wished they had postponed pregnancy and spent some time and energy figuring out a plan for their life that would have provided a more stable foundation in which to raise a child. Also interesting was a lack of excitement or commitment to their partners and a feeling that if their relationship didn't work out, they fully intended to care for their child on their own.
Here's where my passion kicks in!
I am in the process of developing a curriculum using the Success Principles for Teens by Jack Canfield to help provide kids with a process to help them discover a sense of passion and purpose along with system of goal setting and developing an action plan that will help them reach their goals. Those goals will most likely include having a healthy relationship and raising children for most teens, but I'm thinking that the timeline may be a little different than the current trend shows.
I also believe, based on what I've witnessed in my work, that underneath unintended pregnancy, risk behavior and academic disengagement lay beliefs that limit an individual from reaching their fullest potential. The Success Principles provide ways to identify, break through and transcend limiting beliefs and get to the other side to a place of enhanced self-esteem, confidence and personal fulfillment.
This interest and my current project goes well beyond the scope of teen and unintended pregnancy and far beyond my coaching clients. I am also using the Success Principles in the work I do with court involved youth, in the class I teach to youth at risk of dropping out of high school, and kids who are high achievers but don't have a clear direction.
It is my vision to see the Success Principles for Teens incorporated into a curriculum that is delivered in classrooms and is incorporated into youth services all across the country!
Check out the Success Principles for Teens in the Book section at
If you decide to purchase the book for the teen in your life, be forewarned! I get consistent feedback from teens that "the cover is ugly" ... "the tilte is geeky" ... and "I wouldn't be carrying this book around to show my friends".
However they all tell me that the content is pretty cool, the stories are inspirational and that every kid should learn this stuff. The consensus is that the material is way more useful than math, english or biology :)
For more information about my Success Principles for Teens Project visit: : http://www.crowdrise.com/successpriniciplesfo/fundraiser/trishajacobson