Article Text

  1. M. Mariner1
  1. 1University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA.


Introduction The town of Weiser, Idaho, has a wealth of remarkable people and dedicated health professionals. Unfortunately, they also have a serious teen pregnancy problem and minimal preventive education in their school system. To determine why this town seemed to have an increasing population of teen parents despite drops in national rates of teen pregnancy, I began to investigate the issue.

Methods Through a detailed study of Weiser, I determined that the main contributing factors to the increased teen pregnancy rates are a lack of sexual education in the schools and a number of issues related to the high level of poverty in the area. Since affecting poverty rates is a nearly impossible task, I chose the school system as the best place for intervention. I researched the many programs designed to prevent teen pregnancy and determined that a week-long program was the most effective. My research showed that early intervention was the key to success and programs that focus on honest discussion and positive reinforcement are the most beneficial to reducing youth parenthood. Once I had targeted the 15- to 16-year age group, I made contact with local education authorities and worked to combine my research into effective teen education methods with regional education practices.

Results My customized curriculum consists of five lesson plans, six homework assignments, a bonus debate, and collections of resources for both the students and the instructor. Each day has a topic, starting with getting pregnant, pregnancy, birth, babies, and ending with a day to discuss goals for the future. The curriculum is set up to first identify and then correct assumptions about being a teen parent. Each day builds on the previous, and the final result is a well-informed student with clear ideas about what they want for their future. The resource sheet I created for the students has hotline numbers, the names and e-mail addresses of local health professionals they can anonymously contact, the addresses of local clinics, and a list of Web sites on health issues and pregnancy.

Conclusion This curriculum will give the young adults of Weiser the knowledge and tools to make responsible reproductive decisions and hopefully allow them to enter parenthood as informed adults.

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