Teen pregnancy prevention program takes 'above the waist' approach

It’s not just the birds and the bees. It’s what organizers at the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program call an above the waist approach to sex education. Participants learn everything from possible careers to  financial literacy, and something 15-year old Maelah Jackson calls most important—how to set boundaries

“I learned how to say no, and not everything deserves a response,” says the Cobb County teen.

According to the CDC, a recent survey of high school students shows 34% had had sex within the past 3 months. Jackson tells us pressure from boys for sex can be strong.

“They usually ask for it. If you're texting them, it’s almost the first thing that they ask,” she adds “I usually change the subject and sometimes I let them know the consequences behind it, and why we shouldn't  do it. “

Jackson says some boys understand, and others are not, but she remains strong. The Carrera program, implemented by Morehouse School of Medicine, starts in middle school.  More than 150 girls and boys were recruited from Fulton, Cobb, Jasper and Lamar Counties to participate in the program, Ron Skeete is a program manager. He says you can use some of the Carrera components at home; for instance, good communication. He says be firm and warm with your child.   

“The statistics tell us, particularly when it comes to teen pregnancy, when parents share their values about sexuality and pregnancy with their young people, it makes more of a difference than their peers do,” says Skeete “continue conversations and don't close doors as a parent.”

Skeete points out adults need to help young people think big.

“When you're looking to live big, successful lives, you don't make short sided decisions, like decisions that could lead to becoming pregnant as a child.”

This group of youngsters is 5 years in, and so far, there has not been one pregnancy.

“I learned a lot from this class. I really have I'm grateful for all of it,” says Jackson.

Jackson’s class will graduate by the end of the summer. Organizers are hoping to obtain more grant money to follow Jackson’s class through high school graduation and bring in a new group.

For more information about the Children’s Aid Society’s Carrera Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention program, you can go to its website:

www.stopteenpregnancy.com

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