Teenage Pregnancy Initiative
The chosen topic of interest is teenage pregnancy. This is an issue that needs to be handled with the seriousness that it deserves. Although most teenagers never plan to get pregnant, we need to appreciate the fact that many of them end up pregnant anyway. In addition, teenage mothers and the unborn child could also be faced with additional health risks (Hamilton, Martin & Ventura 2) because most of the time, teenagers rarely get timely prenatal care. As a result, they are more predisposed to developing pregnancy-related complications such as high blood pressure.
Teenage Pregnancy Informative statistics
On the other hand, the baby is faced with complications like low birth weight and premature birth. Compared with other developed countries the United States has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates. In 2010 alone, some of the numbers of infant births in the U.S was pegged at 367,752 (Hamilton et al. 3). This represented a 9 % reduction in teenage births, compared to 2009. The drop is attributed to the increased use of contraceptives.
In spite of the apparent decrease in teenage pregnancies in recent years, we also need to appreciate the fact that teens are sexually active (Martinez, Copen and Abma 31), and that the issues of teen pregnancy and the subsequent role of childbearing involve profound economic and social costs. It is important therefore to adopt strategies that will result in a drastic reduction in teenage pregnancies. There is a need, therefore, to take proper measures to ensure that we prevent teenage pregnancy. The current essay shall endeavor to examine the issues of teenage pregnancy and how it should be prevented.
The Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI)
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) became law after President Obama appended his signature into the bill in December 2009. The initiative is aimed at minimizing the rates of teenage pregnancies and births in the targeted communities. In addition, the initiative also hopes to increase the number of teenagers who choose to either abstain from having sex, or who opt to delay in having sexual intercourse. The TPPI has become a key turning point in as far as the sex education policy in the United States is concerned. In the 2010 fiscal year, the government set aside $ 114.5 million to go towards the initiative (Wind para. 4).
Both private and public entities can benefit from the fund as long as they are able to come up with age-appropriate and accurate programs aimed at minimizing teen pregnancy, along with risk behaviors associated with it. The fund also covers the costs of administering as well as assessing the program. There are certain elements of the intuitive that I would wish to keep and there are others that need to be changed.
The allocation of the grant is in three tiers. In the first tier, $ 75 million has been set aside to finance the replication of evidence-based programs. These are the programs that have undergone a rigorous assessment in order to determine that they are effective enough to lower teenage pregnancy (Advocates for Youth para. 5). They also include behavioral risk factors that often accompany teenage pregnancy, as well as additional risk factors.
The Different Tiers
I would hope to keep the proposals of Tier 1 because it addresses the key factors that affect teenage pregnancy and which if we do not address, can result in an escalation of teenage pregnancies. Under Tier 2, the government has already set aside $ 25 million every year (Wind para. 6). This money is often provided in the form of demonstration and research grants to develop, refine, test, and replicate extra innovative strategies and models with a view to preventing teenage pregnancy.
This is a very crucial area but my worry is that not enough money has been set aside for this particular tier. As such, I would wish to propose that the grant be doubled to $ 50 million so that more innovative strategies and models can be developed and enhanced in order to contain teenage pregnancy.
The rest of the funding has been set aside for research, technical assistance, and evaluation. It is important to ensure that more money is allocated to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evaluation program in the coming fiscal year. This is because the ongoing evaluation efforts are crucial in ensuring that we reduce unwanted teen pregnancy, various sexual risk behaviors, as well as STIs. Besides, it is important to ensure that teens have access to complete and accurate information regarding sex education.
This is the only way that we are going to assist them to postpone partaking in sexual activities. To do so, we require funding related research. Teenage pregnancy rates in the U.S are among the highest in the developed countries (Lorrie et al. 47). Of the nearly 750,000 teenagers who get pregnant, over 80 percent of them are unwanted pregnancies. With the right research, we can be able to reverse this trend significantly.
The TPPI – a welcome respite
The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative has been hailed as a welcome respite to most of the conventional, ineffective and rigid abstinence-only programs. The new initiative appears to be both effective and promising as it encompasses both absence and the use of contraceptives as well. I would not wish to have this section changed on grounds of its effectiveness. Previous programs aimed at reducing teenage pregnancies have not worked simply because they preached against abstinence but out of curiosity, teenagers still got pregnant. Perhaps it would be good to perch abstinence but also create awareness on the use of contraceptives in case anything goes wrong.
The new initiative is also age-appropriate because unlike children, teenagers are already aware of the changes that go on in their bodies and there is need therefore to ensure that sex education interventions are in tandem with the changes and developments experienced by young people. Therefore, teaching about abstinence could be suitable for say, lower grade children, because very few of them are likely to have sex. However, as the children grow older, they are more likely to become increasingly sexually active. As such, the sex education given to them should be less about abstinence and more about the use of contraceptives.
I also wish to propose that part of the funding be directed towards public and private schools in order to finance comprehensive sex education programs in schools. This money would then be used to provide learning materials, programs, and personnel involved in enhancing sex education. Research shows that comprehensive ex education programs can lower sex-related risk behaviors among students such as increasing the use of contraceptives and condoms, delaying sexual intercourse, as well as reducing the number of sexual encounters among students who are already sexually active (Douglas 15).
The issue of teenage pregnancy is a real concern for everybody. As such, the various sectors of society should be involved in the initiative to create awareness about the negative consequences of teenage pregnancy to the teenage mother and the child as well and also in order to sustain teen pregnancy prevention strategies. In addition, sex education programs should embrace abstinence and the use of contraceptives, as the child grows older. Ideally, community-based clinical services should be linked to teen pregnancy prevention efforts. More funding should also be provided to facilitate further research into the area.
Douglas, Kirby. Emerging Answers 2007: Research Findings on Programs to Reduce Teen Pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.
Hamilton, Brady, Martin, Joyce and Ventura, Stephen. Births: Preliminary data for 2010. Nat Vital Stat
Rep., 60.2(2011): 2-3.
Lorrie, Gavin, et al. Sexual and Reproductive Health of Persons Aged 10–24 Years – United
States, 2002–2007. Surveillance Summaries, 58.6(2009): 47.
Martinez, Gladys, Copen, Casey and Abma , Joyce. Teenagers in the United States: Sexual activity, contraceptive use, and childbearing, 2006–2010. National Survey of Family Growth. National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Health Stat., 23. 31(2011):3-6.
Wind, Rebecca. New white house initiative overhauls U.S. teen pregnancy prevention efforts. 2010. Web. 02 July 2012.
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