MOAPPP Monitor
Winter 2000

Articles in this issue of the MOAPPP Monitor:

Teen Birth Rates Down in MN, US

Stepping Up to the Challenge

Debate Over Comprehensive Sexuality Education Intensifying

Teen Birth Rates Down in Minnesota, U.S.

According to a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the birth rate for Minnesota teens age 15-19 has dropped 14 percent in the past six years.

In 1991, 37.3 young girls age 15-19 of every 1,000 girls of that age gave birth. In 1997, that figure dropped to 32 births for every 1,000 girls.

Nationally, the drop is even greater. In 1991, the teen birth rate was 62.1 and by 1997 it had dropped to 52.3 – a 15.8 percent decline.

This the seventh consecutive year that Minnesota’s seen a drop in teen birth rates.

That’s great news. And everyone working with teens to prevent early pregnancy can take come credit for bringing down these rates.

However, as always, the story behind the story is that in Minnesota’s communities of color, the birth rates are disproportionately high.

For example, among African-American teens who are between 15 and 19, the birth rate for every 1,000 girls is 119.4 – more than 3.5 times higher than in the white community.

And, with a birth rate that tops 137 per 1,000 girls, Hispanic teenagers are 4.3 times more likely to give birth sometime between the ages of 15 and 19.

These statistics rank Minnesota as one of the nation’s leaders in teen births in communities of color – just behind Washington D.C. and Wisconsin for the number of births to African-American teenagers and North Carolina and Rhode Island for the number of births in the Hispanic community.

MOAPPP remains committed to working collaboratively to turn these rates around. Already, we’ve begun meeting with representatives from Hispanic/Latino and African-American organizations and agencies to begin the dialogue on what would be our most effective culturally-based approaches to this issue.

The members of our Saint Paul Advisory Board are also focusing attention and resources on this issue. And, MOAPPP’s teaming up with Family Tree Clinic and Saint Paul Urban League to involve African-American teens in planning teen-based pregnancy prevention outreach for the spring. Look in the News & Notes section of this issue of The Monitor for details about the upcoming African-American dialogue and the Teen Advisory Panel.

But there’s so much more to do.

Watch future issues of The MOAPPP Monitor for details on upcoming events and activities.

For a copy of the CDC report, call the MOAPPP offices 651-644-1447, 800-657-3697 in Greater MN.

"Stepping Up to the Challenge" of Teen Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting

MOAPPP’s 9th Annual Conference Set for May 1-2

Mark the date!

MOAPPP’s 9th Annual Conference is set for May 1-2 at the Earle Brown Heritage Center in Brooklyn Center.

As in previous years, the conference will be packed full of information and ideas on developing and supporting state and local teen pregnancy prevention and parenting programs.

And the conference theme, "Stepping Up to the Challenge," will encourage participants to celebrate, renew and strengthen their commitment to comprehensively addressing teen pregnancy prevention and teen parenting issues.

Focusing on Minnesota’s growing economic and social diversity, this first conference of the new millennium will surely be key to future discussion, debate and action on teen pregnancy prevention and parenting in Minnesota.

Watch your mail for registration materials in late February.

Debate Over Comprehensive Sexuality Education Intensifying

As the temperatures are falling in Minnesota, the debate over comprehensive sexuality education is heating up.

For some time now, attacks on comprehensive sexuality education have been on the rise. In fact, federal government block grants for "abstinence-only-until-marriage" education, which were recently reappropriated by Congress, have encouraged states to focus efforts on promoting what’s commonly called "abstinence only" programming.

And in Minnesota, many efforts were made during the last legislatuve session to amend the current K-12 health education to focus on "abstinence-only" education. In the end, legislators amended the ENABL (Education Now and Babies Later) program language to include the goal of "promoting abstinence until marriage."

What’s wrong with programs that focus on abstinence?

Nothing, if abstinence is one part of a comprehensive approach.

But, many "abstinence-only programs" omit vital health information, provide medical misinformation, contain sexist, racist and heterosexist stereotypes. Many are based in fundamental religious beliefs that do not consider the unique needs of children outside these religions. And all "abstinence-only" programs fail to provide accurate, if any, information about contraception.

On the other hand, a comprehensive approach to sexuality education includes abstinence as one component of an overall holistic approach to helping youth develop healthy attitudes and behaviors toward sexuality.

And, research has shown that comprehensive sexuality education is effective. Programs that discuss both abstinence and contraception have been shown to have a positive effect on young people’s choices to delay sexual involvement as well as protecting themselves from risk if they choose to be sexually active.

Overall, parents support an in-school comprehensive sexuality education curricula. A recent national poll sponsored by the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and Advocates for Youth revealed that 94% of Americans want their kids to learn the facts about sex in the high school classroom.

MOAPPP recently received funding from the Jay & Rose Phillips Foundation to conduct a similar survey in Minnesota. The survey, which will be conducted early next year, will ask parents and caregivers their attitudes toward sexuality education in the schools.

Through this survey, MOAPPP will gain possession of unbiased, reliable survey results that genuinely represent parents’ attitudes – the opinions that really matter when it comes to deciding what kids are learning in schools.

Survey results will be released in late summer 2000.

In the meantime, we’re expecting that efforts will again be made to further entrench abstinence-only education in our state’s education policies. Anticipating this, MOAPPP is joining with like-minded programs and organizations to form a coalition on comprehensive sexuality education that will focus on responding to these attacks. Among the groups participating are: Minnesota AIDS Project, The Annex Teen Clinic and West Suburban Teen Clinic.

Clearly, MOAPPP is planning to stay on top of this issue in the coming months. Watch for Action Alerts from our office or the coalition on happenings around the capital. We will need your help to protect our young people’s rights to accurate information.

To be sure your name is on our Action Alert list or to find out more about the coalition, call the MOAPPP offices, 800-657-3697.

Also call our office if you want to learn more about comprehensive sexuality education or about MOAPPP’s upcoming statewide opinion survey.