Awareness key to teen pregnancy prevention

This month thousands of teens across Hawai‘i are expected to participate in a local online campaign to prevent teen pregnancy, a press release states.

Teen Intervention Program—a community benefits branch of Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children—created a local campaign in 2004 modeled after a national program developed by the National Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

An estimated 2,400 teens across Hawai‘i each year respond to the online quiz.

“AlohaCare has once again provided us with a $15,000 grant to update our localized online version of the national teen pregnancy prevention quiz to encourage our teens to think carefully before having sex,” states Donna Tsutsumi-Ota in the press release.

Tsutsumi-Ota is the program director of Teen Intervention Program

“The quiz is designed to test young people on how much they really know about the consequences of having sex at an early age, and allows them to reflect on the decisions they would make in certain situations,” she said. “We’ve updated last year’s version by asking teens themselves to submit questions they would like included on this test.”

The quiz is available throughout May, which is Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month, at www.teenlinehawaii.org.

“Statistics show that more than 75 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds use the Internet,” Tsutsumi-Ota says. “Of those going online, two out of three have used the Internet to search for health information and four out of 10 have actually changed their own behavior because of information found on the Web.

“Using the Internet to send out a clear message to teens regarding the consequences of teen pregnancy is a proven method that works,” she states.

The state Department of Education and the state Department of Health are also providing assistance in reaching teens at Hawai‘i’s public schools through community-based organizations.

“Although teenage pregnancy, abortion and birth rates have declined in the United States, the U.S. continues to have the highest rates in teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world,” Dr. Rio Banner states in the release.

Banner is the medical director for AlohaCare.

“In Hawai‘i, the figures are alarming,” he says.

Banner said in 2004, more than 4,000 Hawaiians under the age of 19 got pregnant, and 34 percent of Hawai‘i’s high school students and 12 percent of middle school students have had sex.

“Providing Teen Intervention Program with a $15,000 AlohaCare grant to continue their comprehensive teen pregnancy prevention program will help not only our AlohaCare members, but teens throughout the state,” Banner said.

In addition to funding the online quiz, AlohaCare’s grant will fund 21,000 postcards and flyers encouraging teens to take the quiz, as well as host a play on teen pregnancy that will be performed in high schools on O‘ahu and Maui. The campaign is expected to reach 46,000 intermediate and high school students at 40 public schools, as well as community-based organizations that provide services to teens throughout Hawai‘i.

“Sometimes Hawai‘i’s culture makes it difficult for parents to discuss delicate issues such as sex with their children,” Tsutsumi-Ota says. “Our goal with this campaign is to take a program with a proven track record and give it a local flavor that appeals to Hawai‘i’s teens.”

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