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Stakeholders on Teenage Pregnancies
Transcript of Stakeholders on Teenage Pregnancies
Teenage Pregnancies Teenagers Affected by the Media The Public (Advocates) What do the stakeholders
for this social epidemic have to say? Politicians/Policymakers Even when the government provides aid programs for single mothers, legalize abortion, or place this issue on their high domestic agenda, the issue is only spreading faster throughout America. Reality television shows like Teen Mom
or 16 & Pregnant only highlights the
issues and encourages teenagers that
becoming pregnant is glamorous
or be a lifestyle they could adapt to. President Barack Obama has proposed eliminating all funding for abstinence only-until-marriage sexuality education programs (Melby 1). If it is approved, the government will stop paying for sex education in school. Instead, Obama is urging Congress to spend $178 million on sexuality education aimed at preventing teen pregnancy (Melby 1). According to the Office of Management and Budget, the U.S spent $1.3 billion between 2001-2009 delivering the message to American teenagers (Melby 1). Director of the White House Domestic policy team, Melody Barnes, has found through research that abstinence-only programs doesn't prevent unwanted pregnancies (Melby 1). "I'm wildly supportive of what the president has proposed. There's great joy here. There's no doubt about it" - Bill Albert, Spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (Melby 1). There are
who are less
about Obama's plan to focus only on reducing
(Melby 4). "That's a fraction of the work we do in sexuality education" -Elizabeth Schroeder, EdD, the executive director of Answer (national comprehensive sexuality organization based at Rutgers University)(Melby 4). PRO OBAMA PLAN PRO
PLAN AGAINST OBAMA PLAN Wagoner is also lobbying Congress to shift money from community-based programs to school-based programs since $110/$178 million of the budget would be spent on education efforts in neighborhoods and community centers (Melby 4). "The Obama administration
deserves praise for bringing
science and evidence back
to public health policy and
jettisoning the ideological
earmark known as abstinence
-only" -James Wagoner, president of
Advocates for Youth (Melby 1). What Advocates Have to Say: Albert also believes Obama is right on target. He's been keeping his eye on the adolescent birth rate and says, "The teen birth rate is on the rise after 14 years of decline, "[Obama's proposal] is coming at a particularly important time" (Melby 4). Obama is also calling for a
$10 million increase for Title X funding. This program provides birth control and family planning services for the poor at about 4,400 clinics nationwide
(Melby 4). In 2008 and 2009,
the United States spent $300 million on Title X, so Obama's proposed $10 million increase represents about a 3% increase in funding (Melby 4). The chief executive
officer of Planned Parenthood,
Blanca Cavazos, says "It's
enough!" especially with the
economy in tatters
(Melby 4). "Times are tough.
More and more people are losing their jobs and don't have health care. Title X is a program that can make a difference... $50 million would have been the place to start. $10 million would be swallowed up in Texas alone"
(Melby 4). When asked how much more money the U.S government should invest in Title X, Cavazos responds: Not only does Title X need more government funds to help prevent teenage pregnancies, but so does the National Network of Abortion Funds. says Stephanie Poggi, executive director of the National Network of Abortion Funds (Melby 5). "We are seeing poor women get poorer and we're also seeing low-wage women become poor. The economy is definitely having an impact... We see a greater demand for assistance," Even though the public questions Obama's intentions, both Albert and Wagoner were the ones to quickly point out that Obama's plan to spend not a penny more on abstinence-only programs in his 2010 budget was simply "just a proposal" (Melby 1). A major goal at Advocates for Youth is expanding the scope on Obama's plan to at least include STI prevention since, "Ten thousand young people get STIs every day in the United States," says Wagoner. "That costs the American economy $6.5 billion per year" from a "narrow," "shortsighted" teen pregnancy framework that does not include STIs (Melby 4). "We must address the decade of denial and disinformation under abstinence-only-until-marriage programs by targeting a significant part of our effort on schools" - Wagoner (Melby 4). There have been many polls that show that the American public agrees with having sex education in schools... Although local school boards are "reluctant" to offer it to students even if it could help prevent teenage pregnancies (Melby 5). After the group,
Future of Sex Education (FOSE), studied data from over 50 polls, they identified three "key messages" in support for Sex Education (Melby 5). • "Good sex education protects the health and safety of young people.
• Good sex education includes messages about abstinence and contraception.
• Good sex education provides complete information and education, which in turn helps young people take personal responsibility for important life decisions" (Melby 5-6). This is just another "hurdle" that is forgotten when it comes to short-, mid-, or even long-term strategies in order to prevent teenage pregnancies. "In any area where Americans want to confront a problem, they want solutions they know will work, as opposed to programming they know hasn't proven to be successful, Given where we've been in recent years, I think this is a very important moment." - Melody Barnes Although budget is one of the most important factors, the money must be spent wisely. Every penny counts when it comes to funding programs that can greatly affect the lives of teenagers. Melby, Todd. "The End Of Abstinence-Only?."
Contemporary Sexuality 43.7 (2009): 1-7.
Academic Search Premier. Web. 7 Mar. 2013.
Sun, Feifei. "Baby Mamas." Time 178.3 (2011): 58-
60. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Mar. 2013.
Vlahos, Kelley Beaucar. "Born To Consume."
American Conservative 10.7 (2011): 22-24. Academic Search Premier. Web. 14 Mar. 2013. Works Cited These MTV series have more than 3 million viewers each week on top of being two of the network's top rated shows (Sun). "Though MTV recruited them to be the subjects of cautionary tales, the network has turned them into success stories" (Sun). Unlike most typical
reality shows, the
Teen Mom franchise
turns these young mothers into celebrities for making unplanned detours into parenthood and inviting cameras along for the ride (Sun). The public is aware of the issues the country faces, but only the advocates have spoken up and taken action to prevent the issue from becoming worse. These programs exalt an
"uneasy mix of messages"
intended to document and deter teen pregnancy,
but ends up glorifying it (Sun). The senior vice president of the series development at MTV, Lauren Dolgen, came up with the show ideas after reading 750,000 15-to-19-year-olds become pregnant in the U.S each year (Sun). "This is an epidemic that is happening to our audience, and it's a preventable epidemic," Dolgen says. "We thought it was so important to shed light on this issue and to show girls how hard teen parenting is." This show encourages their viewers to a website that promotes teens to talk to their parents about sex and offers sex-ed resources at ItsYourSexLife.com (Sun). And this approach actually works.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy did a focus-group study in October 2010. They found that 4 in 10 teenagers who watch an episode of 16 & Pregnant talk about the show with a parent afterward and more than 90% of them think teen pregnancy is harder than they imagined before watching the series (Sun). "Any show that provides an opportunity to get more direction from a responsible adult, whether it's a parent or an educator--that's a terrific opportunity," says Leslie Kantor, national director of education initiatives for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (Sun). Kantor also states how, "showing the consequences of risky behavior can be helpful to some young people.
What you don't want is to send the message that everybody is having unprotected sex. These shows create a perception that tremendous numbers of teens are becoming pregnant or becoming parents" (Sun). "Liz Gateley, a former executive producer of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom who is no longer with MTV, says the network specifically targeted middle-class girls through church groups and parenting organizations" (Sun). This gives the "truly at-risk" audience to see these programs as normal or ideal in their own self-destructive behavior. Millions of girls can relate themselves with the girls on Teen Mom and MTV reinforces low expectations and communicates how settling in this lifestyle is normal, if not inevitable when becoming pregnant (Vlahos 3-4). Parents should not only be more aware of how the media targets their children, but also what exactly are the shows their children are watching teaching them? (Vlahos 4). says Gail Dines, a professor at Wheelock College (Vlahos 4). "Unless we educate our children and give them the tools to analyze their world, they're sitting ducks,"