Jay's World of Abstracts

Jay's World of Abstracts 00004

Promising Approaches

'Promising Approaches to Preventing Teen Pregnancy' by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Chapter Two.

[Standard disclaimer: The nature of abstracts are that they are pieces of something larger. Not everyone is going to be happy with my choice of abstracts from any larger work, so if you are dissatisfied, I would refer you to the original document, which should be able to be found on the Internet. I encourage others to make their own abstracts to satisfy their needs.

Jay's Introduction

An abstract from "Promising Approaches to Preventing Teen Pregnancy" by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Chapter Two.


The Three Stages of Adolescence

[Note: Teens of different ages have different concerns and problems that affect how they feel about themselves and others.]

  1. Early Adolescence (9-13 years old)

    • significant physical/sexual maturation
    • concrete thinking
    • increasing influence of peers
    • growing independence in decision-making
    • transition from elementary to middle or junior high school

    Programming Ideas

    • Start programs younger. The groundwork for prevention must be laid in the early adolescent years. Early adolescents need tools and skills to deal with the messages they are already hearing.
    • Take concrete thinking into account. Focus on familiar, real-life situations, not abstract future possibilities (such as "what would your life be like if you had a baby"). Ask young teens to practice communication, decision-making, and negotiation skills using situations they face every day.
    • Give the same information to boys and girls. Young teens need information about the other gender as well as their own. One reason for inappropriate language of activity around sexuality issues is that a person may be seeking answers to questions.
    • Teach about healthy and unhealthy relationships. This is a good time to help young teens think about the qualities friends should have, what healthy and hurtful friendships look like, and how to choose enhancing, not risky relationships.
  2. Middle Adolescence (13-16 years old)

    • continuing physical/sexual changes
    • intense focus on body image
    • beginning the capacity to think abstractly
    • enormous influence of peers/school environment
    • risk-taking

    Programming Ideas

    • Use peer educators. Given the inportance of peers in this group, peer educators can help create social norms around abstinence and contraception. Their modeling of good coping, negotiating, and decision-making behaviors can have a strond impact.
    • Include oportunities for safe risk-taking. Programs can provide for middle teens to take physical risks (ropes courses, field trips to new places, new types of activities) and emotional risks (role plays). These opportunities can help teens build relationships and learn about trust, responsibility, sharing feelings, expressing needs, and weighing and taking risks.
    • Help parents stay connected to their teens. Middle teens need independence as well as careful supervision. Parents struggle with finding this balance and the a sense of loss as their child grows up. Programs should allow parents to vent these feelings and provide opportunities to be together.
    • Take cognitive changes into account. Programs need to be attuned to middle teens' shifts between concrete and abstract thinking. Hands-on learning is good; lectures are ineffective.
  3. Late Adolescence (16 years old and older)

    • physical/sexual changes complete
    • capacity for abstract thought in place
    • adult cognitive functioning
    • family influence in balance with peer influences
    • transition to work, college, independent living

    Programming Ideas:

    • Reach 18- and 19-year-olds where they are. Look beyond colleges. Reach late adolescents through their workplaces, churches, community organizations.
    • Use the media. TV, radio, advertising, print, and the Internet can be used to reach this audience and to illustrate the importance of establishing oneself before becoming a parent. Use media to publicize pregnancy prevention services and resources.
    • Re-cast 18 and 19 as part of adolescence. Most concern about tee pregnancy focuses on girls younger than 17. However, most teen pregnancies occur to 18- and 19-year-olds. Older adolescents also nee the message that it is better to wait until one is established before having a baby.

Reaching all Teens

Experience over many years and types of programs has shown that a few key program techniques and basic educaiton strategies can help to increase the effectiveness of a teen pregnancy prevention effort.

Helpful Program Characteristics

Promising Educational Strategies

The Bottom line of Successful Programs: Make them participant-centered, not planner-centered.

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