Combating teen pregnancy with real life examples

Move aside, fake pregnancy bellies and life-like take-home babies. The latest classroom tool used around the county to deter teen pregnancy is a line-up of hit MTV shows.

The New York Times featured an article in the April 10 edition with a slew of examples of how the shows “16 & Pregnant,” “Teen Mom” and “Teen Mom 2” are used to prompt discussions and lessons about the negative effects of teenage parenthood. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy even distributes DVDs and discussion guides for that purpose.

The shows aren’t just discussion prompters in the classroom — they’re also a means for parents to start conversations about sex, contraception and pregnancy with their children. And although it’s often an awkward conversation, teens in Northeast Florida and throughout the country want to be able to have those talks with their parents.

The latest CDC report shows a decline in teen birth rates, but it is still a significant issue that has a negative effect on society and birth outcomes. Teen birth rates in the United States are higher than other industrialized countries — and locally and statewide, rates are even higher than the nation. The NEFL Teen Pregnancy Task Force meets the second Wednesday of the month at Shands and will develop strategies and iniatives — like educating parents about how to talk to their kids about sex — to combat the issue in the region.