Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Navajo Youth Builders
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program
Written by Rachel Nawrocki
Capacity Builders, Inc.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention Proves Positive in San Juan County
This article is part of a project of the local Community Health Improvement Council (CHIC). CHICs were created statewide in conjunction with the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) with the goal of getting local citizens and county governments more involved in the manner in which health might be improved in each of their communities. The local CHIC is conducting an ongoing awareness campaign addressing the various areas that can potentially affect a person’s health. January has been dedicated to teen pregnancy prevention.
Although teen birth rates have declined by 40% in New Mexico since 1991, the state still has the nation’s highest rate of teen pregnancies. Preventing teen pregnancy is an important priority for San Juan County parents, schools, health practitioners and leaders because, as reported by The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, “preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy significantly improves serious social problems including poverty (especially child poverty), child abuse and neglect, father-absence, low birth weight, school failure, and poor preparation for the workforce.”
Comparative analysis of New Mexico Youth Risk and Resiliency Survey (YRRS) data for San Juan County show that local efforts to reduce teen pregnancy are indeed working. With generous grants from the NM Department of Health and the NM Department of Education, in addition to grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, local organizations are implementing a broad variety of services, offering supports that result in lower teen pregnancy rates and fewer teen births. Data show that since 2011, risky behaviors associated with teen pregnancy are in sharp decline. In 2011, almost 30% of San Juan County teens reported being “sexually active”. In 2013, that number is down to 20%, a decline of nearly 10% in just two years. Additionally, communities in western San Juan County are reporting that the number of teens engaging in sexual intercourse before the age of 13 has declined by more than 5% - the greatest decline recorded in any New Mexico County in 2013.
Capacity Builders’ Navajo Youth Builders Teen Pregnancy Prevention program was launched in the fall of 2011. The program deploys certified Prevention Educators in all 7 Central Consolidated School District middle and high schools. These educators lead students through a positive youth development curriculum using an evidence-based model that is proven to reduce teen pregnancy while improving attendance and performance in school. Youth participants in the program also learn the importance of civic engagement as they are mentored through the planning, preparation and execution of numerous community service learning projects. These projects include everything from advocacy at the national level to improve youth health and wellness outcomes, to volunteering at local animal shelters and collecting donations to send to military service people overseas.
For more information about local efforts to reduce teen pregnancy, please visit: www.capacitybuilders.info/prevention