Teen Pregnancy. It’s a tough topic to discuss, but sometimes, the tough topics need to be brought to light. So let’s talk about it.
The Educational Gap
Studies show that 3 out of 4 teen parents report their pregnancy as unintended.
50% of teen parents don’t finish their high school education by the age of 22.
50% of teen parents have another child within 18 months of the birth of their first child.
The Accessibility Gap
1 in 3 women currently wish to delay or prevent their own pregnancies.
1 in 3 women have been unable to access their birth control method of choice directly due to COVID-19.
The educational gap begins a sequence of events that can quickly create a hinderance to the future of our teens who are becoming young adults in our society. The accessibility gap has created a situation where even those who are educated on the topics at hand don’t have the ability to take the desired next step towards short- or long-term prevention.
Filling The Gaps
A Step Ahead Foundation Tri Cities works to close the educational gap, as well as the accessibility gap for these issues. They work to fill the education gap through classes and programs with not only our public schools (where all students involved must have a permission slip signed by a parent or guardians), but also our youth-based nonprofits like Girls Inc., Girl Scouts, Girls & Boys Club of Johnson City / Washington County, and the Johnson City Public Library. These classes center around the importance of preventing teen pregnancy, reproductive anatomy, puberty/menstruation, and social media safety. They’ve also recently started offering sessions for adults to teach them how to be an Askable Adult, where they learn how to have healthy and open discussions with their children about reproductive health, pregnancy prevention, puberty, etc. A Step Ahead works to fill the accessibility gap through providing free long-acting reversible contraceptive to those who cannot afford it otherwise.
The benefits of our teens and adolescents receiving comprehensive reproductive health education while in middle school and/or high school cannot be underestimated. Comprehensive reproductive education has shown to decrease the amount of unintended teen pregnancies, decrease the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), increase reproductive knowledge, increase safe behaviors, and increase contraception use. It has not shown to increase sexual activity amongst teens.
Empowering our teens and adolescents to plan their pregnancies, and plan their futures, will allow for prioritization of education, financial stability, and healthier families and communities, which is exactly what United Way works to improve. Health. Education. Financial Stability.
A Step Ahead Foundation Tri-Cities was brought to life in 2018, and this may be their first year of funding from United Way of East TN Highlands, but their work will improve lives in our community for years to come.
About United Way of East TN Highlands
Serving Washington, Carter, Johnson and Southern Sullivan Counties, our goal is to break the cycle of poverty by uniting people and resources to strengthen the health, education and financial stability of every person in our community. Our vision is to be a community united to empower every person and organization to reach their full potential and achieve more. For more information about United Way of East TN Highlands, please visit www.UnitedWayETNH.org.