Teen pregnancy prevention is one of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) top six priorities, and of utmost importance to health and quality of life for our youth. Evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs typically address specific protective factors on the basis of knowledge, skills, beliefs, or attitudes related to teen pregnancy.
- Knowledge of sexual issues, HIV, other STDs, and pregnancy (including methods of prevention).
- Perception of HIV risk.
- Personal values about sex and abstinence.
- Attitudes toward condoms (pro and con).
- Perception of peer norms and behavior about sex.
- Individual ability to refuse sex and to use condoms.
- Intent to abstain from sex or limit number of partners.
- Communication with parents or other adults about sex, condoms, and contraception.
- Individual ability to avoid HIV/STD risk and risk behaviors.
- Avoidance of places and situations that might lead to sex.
- Intent to use a condom.
This coming fall, Chicago Public Schools will be expanding a pilot program to make condoms available to high school students in 24 schools this fall as part of an ongoing effort to combat teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases among youth. Similar efforts are taking place in other public school districts including New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston.
The district is working with the Chicago Department of Public Health to determine which 24 schools will get the condoms, yet it is ultimately up to each principal to decide whether their school will participate. If a principal decides to make the condoms available, the program will be overseen by a staff member trained in sexual health education who can answer student questions. CPS officials stated that under district policy, parents will be notified prior to any sexual health education being provided.
While Chicago's teen pregnancy rate decreased 33 percent between 1999 and 2009, it still remains among the highest in the nation. Officials say the teen birth rate in Chicago is one and a half times higher than the national average.
The condom distribution program is just one part of a five-year grant for teen pregnancy prevention which focuses on building life skills and promoting healthy behaviors. This comes ahead of the district implementing new comprehensive sex education curriculum for all grade levels beginning in 2016.
In addition to evidence-based prevention programs, the CDC advocates for teen access to youth-friendly clinical services, as well as stressing the important role parents and other trusted adults play in helping teens make healthy choices about relationships, sex, and birth control.