We know that ongoing, comprehensive sexuality education about growth and development, sex, love, relationships and values is key in helping kids make healthy choices and reducing behaviors that put teens at risk for pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection.
In the wake of the recent federal and state budget cuts, our outreach budget for comprehensive sexuality education programs just sustained a 47% cut. After careful evaluation of our clinc and outreach programs, we are being forced to eliminate puberty education in the elementary schools. The middle school programs will be shortened. Parent programs and other community education programs will be cut. Our teen clinic hours will be reduced by 33%. Programs in grades 9 through 12 will remain intact.
This is tragic.
We have one of the very lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country. We know what works. We have implemented evidence based practices and have been seeing consistent results for years. Prior to the cuts, we were in the process of developing a program to address the common themes we are seeing in the teens who are becoming pregnant. If we had the ability to continue our work, it has the potential to serve as a model for the country to further reduce unintended pregnancy in teens and young adults across the country. That work is now on hold.
Although classroom teachers may take over teaching the puberty and sexuality education classes in the elementary and middle schools, the outcomes will surely not be the same as having specially trained sexuality educators teaching the subject matter.
When rumors of impending cuts began, I could see the handwriting on the wall. I've always wanted to develop a program to support healthy communication between parents and kids around sexuality, as I often get calls from parents asking for support and resources. Apparently, the time had come for me to do just that!
Let's face it ... having the sex talk with kids is not always easy for parents. However the research has become more and more clear that parents have the most influence over their kids about sexual decision making. Teens wish their parents were more open with them and parents are always calling me to support them in talking with their kids.
I tend to like change and often find myself seeing life's challenges as a place where opportunity lies. So as the legislature was slashing the Maternal and Child Health budget, I found myself developing a program called The Sex Talk Series for Parents that provides resources that will help them have better conversations with their kids about growth, development and sexuality.
At the same time, it is my hope that perhaps the program will fill in a gap created by budget cuts and maybe even produce some support to continue on with the next step in preventing teen pregnancy!
And if I do say so myself, I think my new program, The Sex Talk Series for Parents and the accompanying resource guide is quite good ... while being reasonably priced! Check it out ... subscribe ... pass it on ... twitter it ... facebook it .... email the link to whomever you think might benefit.
And, of course, feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the program or about how I can help you reduce teen pregnancy in your community.
For my next project, with my newly found spare time, I'll be working on a sexualtiy education teacher training module and an online coaching program for teens! More on that later ... for now, I'm heading out on the lake to hang out with the loons. It is a spectacular day to live in the lakes region of NH!
Today I taught my last class of the school year ... a 6th grade puberty education class. I've been teaching puberty and sexuality education in 5th through 12th grade classrooms for 10 years in NH, where we have one of the very lowest teen pregnancy rates in the country.
Our program works and we know why. We also know what needs to happen next to make our rates even lower.
Unfortunately, we are waiting to hear the final figures for our FY 2011 budget that goes into effect on July 1. We are expecting a hefty cut in our clinic and outreach budget that will more than likely eliminate our 5th through 7th grade programs as well as our parent eexuality education programs.
These program cuts will impact our outcomes in a negative way. There's no way around it.
Rather than wait for the axe to fall, I decided to follow along the path of many of the older kids I work with. Use technology to make a difference in the world.
I am pleased to announce my new 12 week online educational series for parents titled:
The Sex Talk Series for Parents: A Guide for Talking With Your Kids
To read more about this unique online program that will coach you through the Sex Talk AND get a free copy of my eBook TOP 10 Resource Guide to Support and Inspire Teens, visit http://www.talkingwithtrish.com/the-sex-talk-series-for-parents.html
To learn more about how federal and state budget cuts are impacting school based sexuality education programs, listen to this 5 minute audio clip.
It is imperative that kids get age appropriate, comprehensive sexuality education to support personal empowerment, a foundation for health decision making and healthy attitudes towards sexuality and relationships.
The United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in all of the developed countries. It is high time we stop making this a values argument and start take action based on what's really going on with our teens and what we know works.
We'll get there someday. But in the meantime, parents must assume more repsonsibility and a more active role in educating their kids about sexuality.
And I'm glad to provide a program that will support that role ... in a fun, focused, convenient and affordable way!
Over the last two decades teen births have dropped 37 percent in the United States and are now at a record low, government health officials report. While this is good news, the US teen birth rate is the highest in all developed countries and still up to nine times that of other affluent nations.
Speaking at a press conference recently Dr. Wanda Barfield, Director of the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion's Division of Reproductive Health said that teens may still not be getting the sex education they need to protect themselves. "Only 50 percent of high school students are getting comprehensive sexuality education including abstinence and contraception," Barfield added.
See more about the press conference at:
In NH we have the lowest teen pregnancy rate in the country. In my region, we provide abstinence based comprensive sexuality education to teens beginning in the 7th grade and continung through high school. In addition, we offer a teen clinic and peer education program as part of our family planning services.
It works.In addition to using evidence based programming and practices, we connect with teens on many levels and in many vanues and help them build assets and develop effective support systems.
Unfortunately, we are facing huge budget cuts for the upcoming fiscal year. If things end up the way they seem to be headed, we will have to cut programs significantly. We will certainly lose ground and our rates will undoubedly go up.
I find it incomprehensible that some of our legislators are voting to defund Title X Family Planning services and others are supporting deep cuts in the short term that will result in long term negative outcomes.
I also find it a waste of time and energy to engage in the debate over what we should or should not be doing with regard to sexuality education. We know what works. We simply need to be doing it. I am doing it in my program and hope to be able to survive the cuts and continue doing it.
Both are conversations for another time.I prefer to focus my energy and attention on what's nextt moving forward.
I am hoping to take it what we have accomplished one step further to bring in some of the newer brain research into current family planning practice!
Here's what I see in my practice and here's what I'm interested in investigating:
We are seeing increased pregnancy rates in 18-22 year olds. Case studies indicate that these teens and young adults report having limited or vision for their future. Many report being the child of a teen mom. Some are choosing to drop out of high school. Many are in unstable or less than stable relationships and expect to evenutally be raising their child as a single parent with the support of family and friends. Some have no definitive plan. Many tell me that access to birth control wasn't an issue in their pregnancy, but aren't really clear about why it happened. Some cite their decision being a subconscious one.
I am a passionate student of the subconscious mind and the limiting beliefs lthat can lead us to limiting behavior patterns that keeps many of us stuck. In my own personal growth, I had and continue to explore limiting beliefs that were downloaded into my subconscious mind, according to current research, by the time I was 6 or 7.
I would love to explore the impact of limiting beliefs on teen risk behavior and outcomes, including unwanted or unintended pregnancy. In my work with students at risk of dropping out of high school, it is clear that limiting beliefs play a role in academic performance and success.
Fascinating. In a way that makes the passion within me rise. I'm thnking that my experience with teens and pregnancy prevention and risk behavior, as well as my expertise as a hypnotherapist may well be an interesting combination to explore the connection!
Now, to connect with some innovative thinkers with high impact and find some funding!
If any of you were teen moms and would like to share your story, thoughts, insights and opinions confidentially, I would love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If any of you have ideas or contacts for private funding, Please share them with me at email@example.com or feel free to pass on my contact information.
As Jack Canfield suggestsin his Success Principles , I'm being an inverse paranoid. I am trusting that this passion is driven by purpose. That we will find the funding we need to support our current level of service and develop more to explore this new theory. I am taking action by writing about this and asking for your help.
Let's see what the Universe comes up with!
A Year of Positive Action: Week 11
Lift up your voice!
Call, write, visit, e-mail, or text an elected official (or a decision maker) about an issue that you are passionate about. Be a catalyst for change.Your voice matters...exercise the "power of one".
“I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do.”
~Edward Everett Hale
A Year of Positive Action is shared with permission by Positivity Nation. Vistit them at www.positivitynation.com
I'm taking action to support the elimination of Title V abstinence only until marriage funding and the shifting of these funds to help support effective, evidence-based comprehensive, abstinence-based sexuality education for teens. If you're interested, read more at http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/blogs-main/advocates-blog/1808-take-action
Transition on Purpose