Teen pregnancy rates have plummeted over the last decade, a trend that overlapped with increased funding for Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) programs. However in an unprecedented move last summer, the department of Health and Human Services under the Trump Administration abruptly ended federal funding two years early for 81 organizations, including Children’s Aid. Without this funding, 580,000 young people across the country will lose access to comprehensive sex education this summer, and the gains made in teen pregnancy nationally are likely to be reversed.
TPP programs are a critical part of our adolescent health services. We provide comprehensive sex education both through our Carrera program and at our health clinics at Milbank and in the Bronx to help teens make smart choices when it comes to their sexual health and their future. Some of this work is done by our Just Ask Me (JAM) Peers, youth sexual health mentors who teach other teens in their communities about consent, healthy dating behaviors, and safe sex. We asked them to share in their own words, why TPP programs are important.
Before I became a JAM Peer, I attended a Making Proud Choices workshop. In the beginning, I wasn’t paying attention because I felt like an adult was sort of telling me what to do. But towards the end of the workshop teens began to talk and I caught myself listening more without even knowing that I was listening. I guess it was kind of like a teen-to-teen connection. They weren’t even sharing personal stories, but I was listening. - Rasheeda
I believe that it’s important for teens to get sex education from other teens because it makes the teens more comfortable talking to someone of the same age. Teens tend to be less open and shut down when talking to adults. When talking to someone that’s the same age, it’s easier to explain yourself because the person can relate. - Marquis
People always say that certain programs granted for teens are not really needed. Like for example, our new president in office thinks it would be a good idea to cut funding for TPP. I don’t think that it would be a good idea to cut funding for TPP cause most of these programs are helping reduce the pregnancy rate. – Shannell
As a teen, I believe that teens are more comfortable speaking to each other about subjects they wouldn’t with an adult, parent, or guardian. These topics can range from relationships to fashion and I believe this is because us teens feel like adults do not understand or could relate to what we are going through since we do come from different eras. Children’s Aid and their JAM peer program and other programs similar are very important because our goal is to educate teens on sexual health reproductive health and pregnancy prevention. So we can bring statistics down. If programs like ours lose funding, pregnancy rates will increase once again and STD’s and STI’s would spread around and the statistics will increase. We do more than pregnancy prevention. We teach about healthy relationships. – Jason
What teen do you know that listens to their parent about sex? Many find it uncomfortable and disturbing. Which is where teens like me come in. Being a JAM Peer educator, us teens teach other teens the correct information about sexual health. Taking way the TPP grant shouldn’t even be a topic. How dare you take away something that helps us? Teens are the future for America. Sex education is just as important as English, math, and science. Don’t fail us trying to take the cheap way out. – Denaya
The federal cuts to TPP is very unfair to us teens. Many teens that I personally know come to ask me questions. The only reason I could give them the proper answer is because of the pregnancy prevention program that I learned about. If there was no program, then there could have been a big chance that my friends could have been pregnant, have a STD or even a STI. The main purpose I became a JAM Peer was to help protect my friends, myself, and other teens. If they cut TPP, then how are we teens going to protect ourselves and others? – Zahiry