One Third Is Too Much

As most of us in the field know, teen pregnancy rates have hit record lows over the past couple years. The teen birth rate for girls aged 15-19 decreased 9% between 2009 and 2010, from 37.9 births per 1,000 to 34.3 per 1,000. This is the largest decline recorded in a single year since 1946-47, and teen birth rates are now at their lowest levels since National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) began tracking teenage childbearing .

Guttmacher brief released earlier this year help explains some of the reason for this success in driving down rates: “The majority (86%) of the decline in the teen pregnancy rate between 1995 and 2002 was the result of dramatic improvements in contraceptive use, including an increase in the proportion of teens using a single method of contraception, an increase in the proportion using multiple methods simultaneously and a substantial decline in nonuse.” This finding underscores Healthy Teen Network’s core belief that all youth can make responsible decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health when they have complete, accurate, and culturally relevant information, skills, resources, and support.

Still, with all the strides that have been made in the right direction, one third of American youth currently receive no formal information about contraception. This needs to change: one third is too much.

For more than 33 years, Healthy Teen Network has been building the capacity of professionals and organizations to support and empower adolescents and young adults, including teen parents, to lead healthy sexual, reproductive, and family lives. Accurate education on contraceptive methods is crucial to empower youth to make responsible choices.

For example, as part of our grant with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Reproductive Health, Healthy Teen Network provides training and technical assistance to state grantees, supporting the implementation of evidence-based programs to prevent teen pregnancy. Healthy Teen Network member and project grantee Erin Livensparger, of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, Inc., recently attended a Healthy Teen Network five-day training-of-educators on evidence-based programs, and participated in follow-up technical assistance.

“I really enjoy the high caliber way Healthy Teen Network trains on curricula,” Erin says, adding that it was “really powerful” to attend the training, and that it was “really helpful” to be trained on three curricula, all at once. Erin has found that the Healthy Teen Network trainers have “always been accessible and [are] sort of like our über-trainers whom we aspire to be like.” She continues, “The trainers were really approachable, asking what we were thinking, sharing ideas.”

Healthy Teen Network technical assistance goes beyond a single training, providing both proactive and reactive support to build long-term capacity among youth-serving professionals.

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