MEDICAL INSTITUTE: EL PASO PROGRAM REDUCES TEEN PREGNANCIES – December 2010
Decline in local teen pregnancy draws attention
Austin, Texas—December 10, 2010— Recognizing the effects of teen pregnancy and single parenthood, there is a renewed focus on teen pregnancy prevention efforts in the country. With a high teen pregnancy rate, Texas has received additional attention to emphasize prevention efforts. Youth in border areas with their unique economic and social challenges are particularly vulnerable to risky behaviors and their consequent outcomes, such as teen pregnancy.
A demonstration project Paso a Paso: Building Healthy Families in border communities in El Paso has shown significant results in reducing teen pregnancies.
Since 2006, schools report that the number of pregnancies have dropped to all-time lows in the economically disadvantaged border communities of San Elizario and Fabens where Paso a Paso operates. One school district, that provides transportation to pregnant teen girls to school and back home, had to change from a bus to a van because of declining numbers. Reaching out to middle school and high school students over several years, the success is enhanced by parental involvement in the sexual health education of their youth. The program provides scientific information in an interactive environment and emphasizes prevention of risky sexual behaviors in youth.
Since, sex education is more than just giving information to adolescents, Paso a Paso focuses on the motivations and peer pressures that sometimes lead to bad decision making. Program researchers talked to the area youth extensively to determine youth beliefs, norms, sexual behaviors and motivations behind these sexual behaviors. The program and its messages are tailored to this information as well as cultural norms and expectations. Additionally, the program allows parents to feel more confident about discussing sex with their kids through a structured parent course. Parents also learn more about today’s adolescent culture and the effect of the media on teen sexual decisions. Teen pregnancies and births in the area are tracked by program staff to evaluate outcomes of the program.
The results of the program have been presented in large national professional conferences and meetings such as the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting in November this year. The Medical Institute for Sexual Health, creators of the program, hopes to continue the program and expand Paso a Paso to more communities so these teens can receive continued guidance on healthy sexual decision making.
The Medical Institute is a nonprofit (501c3) that empowers safe, healthy living by communicating objective and scientific sexual health information. Through resources like the STD Wizard (www.STDWizard.org) — an online sexually transmitted disease self-assessment tool — the Medical Institute is helping people live safer, happier, healthy lives. For more information visitwww.medinstitute.org.