May is Teen Pregnancy Prevetion Month

Good news for Hawaii regarding teen pregnancies from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy: “Teen pregnancy and birth rates are at historic lows and there has been impressive progress on both fronts in all 50 states. As of 2013, the Hawaii teen birth rate was 25.1 births per 1,000 teen girls (age 15-19); Since 1991 the teen birth rate has declined by 58 percent. In the past year alone, the decline was 11 percent.

The data is from teens in high school. It doesn’t reflect the experiences of teens who have graduated high school or who left high school for other reasons.

Also, in 2013 the percent of sexually active high school students in Hawaii that reported using any method of contraception the last time they had sex was 84.4 percent.

This is great news. The millions of dollars spent in educating teens and parents are paying off, but it still cost the state (from our taxes) $32,000,000 to pay for teen childbearing.

May 6 is National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Beginning that day, stayteen.org will be offering a free online interactive quiz that challenges youth to think carefully about what they might do in the moment if a certain dating or relationship scenario presented itself. Last year over 500,000 kids participated in it. Of the 9,200 teens who left feedback for the site, 91 percent said that the quiz made them think about what they’d do in similar situations. 72 percent said that they’d already faced similar circumstances. stayteen.org also offers other relevant info for teens.

If anything, it might be a good idea for teens to visit to see what kinds of scenarios they might find themselves in.

It might be a good idea, because there are some negative consequences resulting from teen pregnancies. The US Department of Health and Human Services website (www.hhs.gov), presents these facts regarding pregnancies from the office of Adolescent Health on Pregnancy Prevention:

w Teen childbearing is associated with negative consequences for the adolescent parents, their children, and society.

w Children born to adolescents face particular challenges—they are more likely to have poorer educational, behavioral, and health outcomes throughout their lives, compared with children born to older parents.

w Abstinence from sexual intercourse is the most effective way to prevent unplanned pregnancies.

w In order to avoid unplanned pregnancies, it is essential for adolescents who are sexually active to use effective contraceptives (such as condoms, birth control pills, the patch, the vaginal ring, the IUD, and injectable birth control methods) and to use them every time they have sex.

w Adolescents who have a baby are less likely to finish high school, are more likely to be poor as adults, and are more likely to rely on public assistance than those who do not have a teen birth.

Seventeen Magazine linked with The National Campaign and put out a flyer entitled “Advice for Teen Girls, What Senior Girls Want you to Know” Twelfth graders were asked all about their feelings and experiences with sex, love, and relationships. This is what they think younger girls need to know:

w “It’s OK to wait, okay to be a virgin when you graduate. More than four out of 10 girls who’ve already had sex say they wish they’d waited longer.

w Use protection every single time. No excuses!

w Don’t do something that makes you uncomfortable just to please a guy. Most girls who have gone further in a hookup situation than they wanted to wish they hadn’t.

w Don’t have sex with someone you don’t love, and don’thave sex with someone who doesn’t love you back. Girls that did, regretted it.

w You can say no, even if you’ve said yes before. Eight out of ten girls who have already had sex think it’s important for you to know this.

w Don’t worry so much about trying to impress boys and don’t stress about falling in love. It will happen. It’s also important to have guys you are just friends with.

w It’s better to break up than stay in a relationship that’s bad for you. There are almost as many girls who say they wish they hadn’t wasted so much time in a relationship as there are girls who wish they’d had a relationship in the first place.

w Don’t be afraid to talk to your parents about personal stuff. No matter how awkward it can get, your parents can have good insights to share and can really help you find your way through complicated relationships.

w Believe in yourself! Looking back on their high school social lives, many girls wish they’d been more confident. In fact, having more confidence in themselves is the No. 1 thing senior girls are looking forward to after graduation.

w Lay off the pressure. The majority of 12th grade girls say the pressure to be sexually experienced comes not from guys but from their friends. Friends who tease each other about sex-whether it’s for having too much of it or not enough-add to the pressure and often regret it later. Your sex life is your business and your comfort level with it is what’s most important.”

LaVerne Bishop of Hale Opio Kauai stated that the best practices for reducing Teen Pregnancy are:

1. Having goals for the future – obtaining education after high school and planning a fulfilling career. When women have a goal, they know that supporting a child, and being tied down would either delay or stop the goal from happening.

2. Developing negotiation skills for delaying the initiation of sex. In other words, if a woman isn’t ready to have sex, they need to feel comfortable in saying so to their partner. If there is mutual respect, the female’s wishes will be honored. If she is not respected, she needs to feel empowered enough to stand up to her date.

3. Learning how to use condoms to protect against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

4. Developing a skill-set for decision making. We always are faced with choices, and some of them are extremely important. Starting a family is one of those major decisions that affects a woman for her entire life.

On Friday, May 15, Hale Opio is presenting the 4th annual Teens Night Out. Join them for a Teen health fair evening of fun interactive games with prizes, contests and educational activities from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center’s Exhibit area near Deja vu, and Jean’s Warehouse. It’s free! Learn how to be responsible and make healthy and wise decisions. Sign up at 5 p.m. for a musical talent contest, limited to the first 10 registrants. First, second and third place winners will receive Kukui Grove Center gift cards.

There will be a special performance by KUGA, with a “Just J” as the live DJ, spinning today’s hottest hits.

I’m so happy and inspired that so many organizations on Kauai want their teens to be healthy and happy, and make wise choices for themselves. Go with some friends, have fun

Call Mary Ann Ornellas at 651-0584 for more information about Teens Night Out.

In two weeks, The Corner will offer tips on talking to your teens about sex, relationships and safety, with a special nod to sons.

Next week focuses on Mother’s Day.

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Hale Opio Kauai convened a support group of adults in our Kauai community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues. Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org

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