The Children's Aid Society Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Program
has enjoyed over ten years of success and counting. While we never
equate our program as a quick-fix to the issue of adolescent pregnancy, we do
like to measure
our success. In addition to the following article, the most up-to-date
articles can be viewed on the Children's
Aid Society web site.
June 1, 2023 - The good news about teen pregnancy is that a new study shows three different types of programs are effective at reducing pregnancies. The bad news is that none of the programs that proved so successful taught only abstinence. Yet most federal dollars for sex education are reserved for programs that teach sexual abstinence alone.
The study released Wednesday by the non-profit, non-partisan National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy provides important information on making lasting inroads into the pregnancy problem that has long plagued U.S. teens. While rates have dropped in recent years, more than 40% of teen girls still get pregnant before reaching the age of 20. Thatís double the rate in Great Britain and 10 times that in the Netherlands.
And pregnancy is not the only risk of early sexual activity: About 66% of students have sex before graduating from high school; 25% of the sexually active contract a sexually transmitted disease.
The 1996 Welfare Reform Act set aside $85 million a year for pregnancy-prevention plans, but it includes a catch. Only programs preaching abstinence until marriage qualify.
Certainly, there's a lot that's good about the abstinence message. It matches the social
and religious mores of many communities and it should be part of any sex education program.
As a sole approach, though, it appears to fall short.
Among programs found most effective:
School-based comprehensive sex education
These programs, which include the abstinence message, discuss contraception and draw on peer leaders to conduct role-playing exercises. Result: They delay the first time a teen has sex and also make condom use more likely.
Teen outreach programs
These programs, found in 16 states, channel teens into community-service activities, with adult mentors teaching the teens how to be effective as volunteers. Although sex education is not a formal part of the program, the pregnancy rate of participants fell by a third.
Intensive mentoring programs
The New York City Carrera Program run by the Children's Aid Society was the star of the study.
This program does it all: sex education, health care, individual tutoring, mentoring and arts
enrichment. It cut pregnancy rates in half, a phenomenal success rate for any kind of teen-pregnancy
There's still a chance that abstinence-only programs may eventually prove effective. But
thereís also evidence of other programs that deserve government funds now.