Teen pregnancy has a tremendous impact on the educational, social, and economic lives of young people.
Statistics show that teen birth rates are declining in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, birth rates fell 11% for teens aged 15-17 and 7% for ages 18-19. However, despite this noted decline, teens are still engaging in sexual activity and young women are still getting pregnant.
Studies prove that unplanned pregnancies are particularly common among young women without a lot of resources to deal with the consequences of becoming pregnant. Also, unplanned pregnancy is associated with all sorts of negative outcomes for the women and children involved. For example, in comparison to women who plan their pregnancy, those who experience unplanned pregnancy suffer from more mental health issues, have less stable romantic relationships, experience higher rates of physical abuse, and are more likely to delay prenatal care. Last, children whose conception was unplanned are at greater risk of experiencing negative physical- and mental-health outcomes and are more likely to drop out of high school and to engage in delinquent behavior.
It is quite obvious that early parenthood reduces the likelihood that a young woman will complete high school and pursue the higher education needed to be successful in today’s global economy. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, only 38% of teen girls who have a child before the age of 18 earn a high school diploma by age 22 and 30% of teen girls who have dropped out of high school admit pregnancy or parenthood as a reason. Girls PACT understands the “stuff” around sexual activity and unplanned pregnancy:
- 90% of all women want to change at least one aspect of their physical appearance
- 1 in 3 girls between the ages of 16 and 18 say sex is expected for people their age if they’re in a relationship
- Nearly 3 in 10 teen girls in the US will get pregnant at least once before age 20
- A couple who has sex without using condoms or any other kind of birth control has an 85% chance of getting pregnant within a year
- About 3 million teens get a sexually transmitted infection every year
- 57% of rock music videos portray women as a sex object, a victim, as unintelligent, or in a condescending way
- 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they have been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner
- 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped, or pushed by their partner
Girls PACT addresses this “stuff” to empower young women ages 15-24 with the knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to combat unplanned pregnancy.
Girls PACT currently serves young women with “stuff” attending high schools and colleges on the west side of Los Angeles. According to school demographic reports, these young women are predominately African-American and of Latino descent and considered of low socio-economic status. Girls PACT successfully serves this audience, but “stuff” does not discriminate. There is a need for Girls PACT in any and all communities.
Here’s what Michelle Olivier, 19, teen parent at 14, has to say about the impact of Girls PACT:
“I was first introduced to Girls PACT in my parenting class my senior year at Santa Monica High School. I was thrilled to meet Girls Pact Founder, Michelle Shegda. Finally, someone wanted to reach out to young ladies and make a positive influence on their lives! It’s not too often that you hear about groups or programs reaching out to young ladies. I had a rough childhood and had my son at the age of 14, you can imagine how high my stress level was. If I would have found a support system such as Girls Pact at a younger age I would have made better choices growing up as I do now. I am extremely excited to become a part of Girls Pact and make a change in the community.”
Sources: *StayTeen.org *ConfidenceCoalition.org *neahin.org