Teenage Pregnancy in Iowa State
Clearly identify the topic of teenage pregnancy (be sure to include the population you wish to address) and why you chose it. Identify data and/or public policy to support your choice.
What initiatives would you include, and how do you implement it? For example, if you want to include comprehensive sex education classes in every school, how would you do that? What other initiatives will you include?
How will you notify the public/concerned parties in Iowa that there is a problem? For example, if you choose to write a letter to the editor or to your congressperson, what will you put in the letter? or if you choose to inform the Iowa board of education about including sex education in the school course, how will you do that?
Will anyone assist you in developing or implementing your initiative?
Teenage Pregnancy in Iowa State
Teenage pregnancy refers to pregnancy in women aged 19 years or younger. Women can get pregnant if they have vaginal sex with men at any age after they start getting regular monthly periods. In the United States, teen pregnancies and childbearing are at historic lows, with impressive progress made in all 50 states. In Iowa, teen birth rates decreased by 64% between 1991 and 2018, with the rate now standing at 15.3 births per 1000 females aged between 15 and 19 years of age (CDC, 2020). Although teen birth rates have fallen for all ethnic and racial groups, disparities remain persistent. Teenage pregnancy prevalence in Iowa is more than two times higher among Hispanic and non-Hispanic Blacks than non-Hispanic whites (Americas Health Rankings, 2020). Pregnancy rates are also higher among teens in foster care, teens from low-income families, and families with low educational attainments. Teenagers who get pregnant are more likely to experience miscarriages, maternal illness, neonatal death, and stillbirths (CDC, 2019). The likelihood of teen mothers dropping out of high school and facing unemployment is also significantly increased, and children whose mothers are teens also have increased likelihoods of adverse behavioral, health and educational outcomes.
Due to the substantial social, health, and economic costs associated with teenage pregnancies and childbearing, effective prevention strategies are necessary. One such method includes sexuality education for adolescents and children. Sexuality education refers to teaching about sexuality among people. It includes intimate relationships, sexual anatomies, sexual reproduction, sexual activities, infections transmitted sexually, gender identity, sex orientations, contraception, abstaining, and reproductive responsibilities and rights (Breuner et al., 2016). Evidence-based and developmentally appropriate education regarding sexuality and reproduction provided gradually by schools is vital in helping teenagers make positive, safe and informed choices on responsible sexual activities, healthy relationships, and healthy reproduction. Evidence shows that sexual education is beneficial in preventing and reducing the risks of adolescent pregnancies, infection transmitted sexually as well as HIV (Breuner et al., 2016).
Implementation of comprehensive sex education classes will begin with raising awareness of teenage pregnancies in the school district and proposing sex education as the solution to the problem. Notification to concerned parties will be through presentations of crucial data and distribution of fact sheets on teenage pregnancy and disparities involved in Iowa to make them aware of the problem. It will also include understanding the school districts’ capacity in terms of finances and resources for implementing sex education (Leos and Wiley, 2019). Change in the district policy will be advocated for where sex education should be explicitly required in all school curricula. School board members will also be involved in the process from the beginning to acquire their approval before implementation can start.
An implementation plan will then be created, including the number of students participating in each school, the number of students in each class, and the timeline for implementation. Planning will involve coordination and collaboration among all personnel involved, including sexual health educators, counselors, school nurses, and teachers as well as parents. Timely, coordinated, and detailed planning among these stakeholders will ensure adequate training, enough time for implementation, ongoing support, sufficient resources, and high comfort and skill among teachers in teaching sex education (Leos and Wiley, 2019). It will also increase the abilities of the schools to implement the program with fidelity.
- America’s Health Rankings (2020). Health of Women and Children. https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/health-of-women-and children/measure/TeenBirth_MCH/state/IA
- Breuner, C. C., Mattson, G., & Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health. (2016). Sexuality education for children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 138(2), e20161348.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2019). About Teen Pregnancy. https://www.cdc.gov/teenpregnancy/about/index.htm
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020). Iowa. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/iowa/ia.htm
- Leos, C., & Wiley, D. (2019). “It falls on all our shoulders”: Overcoming Barriers to Delivering Sex Education in West Texas Schools. Journal of Applied Research on Children: Informing Policy for Children at Risk, 10(2), 4.