Girls Inc. seems to understand that teen pregnancy doesn’t exist in a bubble, so neither should the solution. In addition to their programs that center on the how and why of not getting pregnant at a young age, they focus on five other areas aimed at building teen girls into confident, capable, well-rounded young women.
Their “Leadership/Community Action” program teaches the girls about community service and highlights the influence of female leaders in their area. “Friendly Peersuasion” tackles the difficult topics of substance abuse and managing the stress that accompanies peer pressure. It also gives participants a chance to act as positive role models for younger girls. “Media Literacy” seems an essential program to helping girls build a positive self image, especially with the rise of the internet and social media. Girls in this program have the opportunity to critically evaluate the image of women that is presented in the media, rip it apart, and develop their own, healthier version.
“Operation SMART” increases the girls’ exposure to science, technology, engineering and math fields, and their remaining programs include self defense, financial literacy (starting at age 6! Hooray!), and athletics. They don’t seem to have left much out. I’m not sure there’s any doubt that such a wide range of programming provides the teens Girls Inc. serves with the emotional and practical support they need to make good life choices and steer clear of many more risk factors than just teen pregnancy.
Girls Inc. also recognizes the importance of attacking an issue before it morphs into a problem. As a result, their pregnancy prevention programs aren’t just aimed at teens or pre-teens, but start with age appropriate curriculum in elementary school and follow students through middle and high school years. Their culminating activity for high schoolers involves a retreat called “Baby, Think it over,” at which the girls are given lifelike dolls and realistic financial dilemmas to solve as part of a simulation of motherhood.
Hard work and personal growth deserve recognition, and Girls Inc. seems to have a number of events aimed at doing just that. When I browsed their website, I found pictures and programs from luncheons and awards ceremonies at which girls, mentors and staff were honored for either their progress or dedication. There was also mention of a mother-daughter summit, an event that apparently celebrates the importance of a healthy mother-daughter relationship as well as provides opportunities for them to learn together about self-esteem and bullying issues.
Not to leave out positive male role models, they also seem to hold an annual Red and White Ball. Participants get to dress up and simply have fun being a girl, but are also involved in conversations about positive relationships with males and participate in a father-daughter dance.
Read more: abstinence, Center for Research on Women, contraception, girls inc, high school dropout rate, National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, teen mothers, teen pregnancy, women's image in media
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