Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention

NCY POSITION

The National Collaboration for Youth believes that:

  • Youth development programs that teach children life skills and social values and connect them more meaningfully to their communities, tend to result in a greater awareness of life options and a lesser likelihood of high risk behavior in all areas including early initiation of sexual intercourse.
  • Participation in comprehensive sexuality education programs can help delay the onset of sexual activity and encourage the avoidance of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases for both males and females.
  • Pregnant teenagers and teenage mothers should be encouraged to seek regular medical and nutritional care, to continue in school or to seek vocational training, and to enroll in parenting courses.
  • Prospective fathers and teen fathers should assume financial responsibilities.
  • Pregnancy prevention programs should be based on positive youth development principles and thus should:
    • build children's self-reliance, self-confidence and awareness of life options; facilitate parent-child, teacher-child, mentor-child activities and communication; promote peer education and leadership in schools and in the community; increase competencies in decision-making, negotiation, assertiveness, and refusal and resistance skills.
    • Fear-based approaches to adolescent pregnancy prevention are ineffective and harmful.

PUBLIC POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS

The federal government should take the following actions related to adolescent pregnancy:

  • Provide leadership and incentives to campaigns attempting to reduce adolescent pregnancy through comprehensive approaches that are research-based.
  • Expand funding for pregnancy prevention programs that provide medically accurate and realistic information about both abstinence and contraception.
  • In light of concerns from the medical and public health communities regarding the effectiveness of abstinence-only programs, redirect the federal abstinence-only-until-marriage funding to more comprehensive research-based youth development approaches.
  • Provide more evaluation dollars for current programs in an effort to determine what methods are most effective.
  • Support and fund scientific research into adolescent sexual behavior.
  • Provide leadership and incentives to programs attempting to reduce sexually transmitted infections through comprehensive interventions, including education, counseling, support services and treatment.
  • Ensure access to affordable health care, including contraception, to all regardless of age.
  • Recognize and support the role of schools in providing comprehensive health, nutrition, and sexuality education.
  • Promote services that support positive social, economic, health and developmental outcomes for teen parents and their children.
  • Support community efforts to increase and coordinate positive child/adolescent development programs.
  • Support community programs that attempt to reach, and provide specialized services to, youth in high-risk situations or environments.
  • Enact the Younger Americans Act to recognize and support the role of youth development programs as a promising approach to adolescent pregnancy prevention, and support further research on the efficacy of youth development approaches to adolescent pregnancy prevention.