The more the merrier is definitely true when it comes to preventing teen pregnancy. Girls Inc., Memphis has recognized that and has collaborated with a number of other organizations active in the Memphis area. The result is Memphis Teen Vision, or MemTV, a collaboration of 25 different community, school and local government organizations focused on bringing down pregnancy rates among teenage girls.
Through MemTV, Girls Inc. is able to keep Memphis City Schools informed of the impact their program has on reducing teen pregnancy as well as collaborate with other organizations working towards the same purpose. This allows them to secure support for their programs within the school district — including within the school day, which is extremely hard to do given already jam-packed curricula — as well as gain access to students’ academic data in an effort to better support the girls they serve. Additionally, Memphis City Schools also chose Girls Inc. to participate in the school district’s launch of Education Beyond the Classroom, opening up school sponsored programs to the greater community.
So obviously a comprehensive, impressive effort, but is it working? I was unable to find data showing teen pregnancy rates and/or their effect on dropout rates specifically for Memphis City Schools (please post in comments if you know of their existence), but did dig up a few other promising tidbits. According to statistics from the State of Tennessee Department of Health, births among African American girls ages 10-19 in Shelby county (which includes Memphis) fell from 58.1% to 50% between 2009 and 2010.
Maybe a small decline, but a decline all the same. Additionally, in an evaluation carried out by the Center for Research on Women at the University of Memphis, girls who participated in Girls Inc. during the course of an academic year made improvements in multiple areas. Girls Inc. students scored higher on standardized state tests, reported greater emotional resilience, improved body image and overall had a lower rate of sexual activity when compared with MCS students in general.
To me, this is extremely encouraging. So many factors are at work when it comes to teen pregnancy. Sex education, contraception and abstinence promotion obviously play a role, but it’s refreshing and commendable that Girls Inc. has developed programming that treats the whole girl, not just her uterus. If more organizations focus on nurturing young women emotionally, connecting them with role models, giving them tools to be confident, independent thinkers, and setting them up for academic and financial success, I’m certain that more young women will be in a position to take control of their own lives and teen pregnancy rates will continue to fall.
Do you know of any organizations fighting the good fight (and winning) against teen pregnancy? Leave your comments below.
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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