The new Action Agenda to Reduce Teen Pregnancy is the blueprint for local action. The Action Agenda was created in 1997 and was updated in 2002. The seven strategies are based upon years of research and effort and they unite Oregonians with differing methods and views who all agree that pregnancy and parenthood are not the best life strategy for teens.
You can download a copy of the 2002 Action Agenda (PDF) or contact us at (503) 945-5600 for a copy.
Seven strategies of the Action Agenda:
- Positive community values
- Comprehensive sexuality education and youth development
- Abstinence education
- Contraceptive access
- Male involvement and leadership
- Balancing health, safety and legal issues
- Young-parent services
Positive community values
Build and support positive community values through public awareness, youth and adult involvement, and collaboration with the community.
What's acceptable or ignored in a community influences young people's values and norms, and the decisions they make about sexual behaviors.
Children who believe they can have a positive future and youth who have family members or key adults with whom they can discuss sexuality and other issues are more likely to make safe decisions about sexual behavior.
Young people seek guidance and structure from parents and trusted adults in their lives, even though it may not be apparent.
Involvement by positive role models, community members, peers and adults is an essential part of supporting youth in making healthy choices about their future.
Communities actively support and promote teens in making healthy choices.
- Involve local media in promoting positive community values and use other ideas contained in the "Bee Involved" booklets.
- Support and participate in community initiatives that encourage positive youth development. These include efforts by youth-led groups, businesses, prevention coalitions, and faith-based and other local community organizations.
- Support individual efforts of parents, youth and adults to reduce teen pregnancies. Some communities are achieving this through parent-youth workshops, mentoring programs, youth fairs and school-to-work activities.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the percent of teens never having intercourse, the use of contraceptives, the use of research-based sexuality education curricula in schools, and the state's teen-pregnancy rate.
Comprehensive sexuality education and youth development
Support and promote school- and community-based youth development efforts, and research-based, comprehensive sexuality education for all young people.
This strategy offers local communities a solid framework of information, skills and opportunities needed by youth to enable them to have positive and productive futures. The combination of youth development and comprehensive sexuality education has been found most effective in reducing teen pregnancy. Strategy 2 includes key information and skills related to sexuality, and the tools to build confidence and self-worth among young people in Oregon.
An essential element to helping young people make responsible decisions is providing research-based, comprehensive sexuality education. These programs have been found to help families and teens communicate about sexuality, and reduce risky behaviors among youth.
Additionally, youth development strategies such as "community service learning" programs provide youth the opportunity to positively contribute to their communities, establish relationships with trusted adults, and develop skills that can be applied in career pathways.
Youth in Oregon will possess the skills and knowledge necessary to positively participate in family and other relationships, work, and community.
- Ensure a continuum of school- and community-based youth development strategies is implemented statewide.
- Ensure school-based comprehensive sexuality education is research-based and being implemented in every school, per Oregon Revised Statute 336.455 and Oregon Administrative Rule 581-022-1440.
- Build a network of support for educators, school administrators, community organizations and families who are committed to providing quality, comprehensive sexuality education and youth development strategies for all young people.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the percentage of teens never having intercourse and the percentage of teachers receiving training in research-based sexuality education.
- Programs in schools and communities that combine clear messages about postponing sexual intercourse, reliable information on condoms and contraceptives, and negotiation and communication skills have been demonstrated to delay the onset of intercourse and increase the use of condoms and contraceptives among youth.
- Additionally, the overwhelming weight of the evidence shows that school-based health centers, condom-availability programs, and comprehensive sexuality education programs (including prevention of teen pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections and HIV) do not increase any measure of sexual activity.
Based on information from:
"Emerging Answers: Research Findings on Programs to Prevent Teen Pregnancy."
- Studies provide evidence that some youth development programs have decreased pregnancy or birth rates among youth.
Kirby, D. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. 2001.
"Reducing the Risk: Connections That Make a Difference in the Lives of Youth."
Blum, R.W. and Rinehart, P.M. Division of General Pediatrics and Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota. 1998.
Promote abstinence and help youth develop the skills to identify and resist pressures, so they are able to choose abstinence.
This strategy focuses on providing youth with refusal skills, goal setting and positive peer support in an informed, practical way. It supports the growing number of students who are choosing to remain abstinent and recognizes the key role played by parents in the success of these programs.
Abstinence programs are designed to help all youth avoid sexual involvement, while encouraging sexually active teens to consider the benefits of abstinence.
According to a recent survey from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 93 percent of teens say they should be given a strong abstinence message. This affirms Oregon's support of public and private abstinence programs, which are active in schools, youth agencies and other youth venues throughout the state.
The skills taught in abstinence education reinforce the skills taught in drug and alcohol prevention courses. This is particularly important in light of research connecting the use of alcohol and drugs with sexual behavior in the adolescent population.
Foster a community environment that supports and strengthens young people's decisions to choose abstinence.
- Develop on the state level a consistent evaluation for all state-funded abstinence programs.
- Strengthen current abstinence education efforts and seek options to meet increasing program demands.
- On the local level, identify and implement effective strategies that offer abstinence education resources to parents and guardians.
- Develop a statewide inventory of abstinence education programs offered in Oregon communities.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the extent of STARS training in schools, the percent of teens never having intercourse and the state's teen pregnancy rate.
Factors that increase the practice of abstinence include some of the following:
- knowledge of refusal skills;
- a positive peer environment that supports abstinence;
- a set of personal goals and direction for the future;
- positive and supportive school relationships; a family that supports abstinence. The federal government has developed guidelines for abstinence education and the State of Oregon has adopted ten principles for these programs. They include:
- using skills-based strategies that are appropriate for the students' age and development;
- providing accurate medical and scientific information;
- involving parents and guardians at all levels;
- ensuring that discussions include the health benefits of abstinence; avoid the use of fear and shame; and present material in an upbeat and positive manner.
- Oregon has expanded its abstinence education efforts since 1995 and is now funding three programs. They are "Students Today Aren't Ready for Sex (STARS)," "Stop and Think," and "Youth Solutions."
Help youth avoid pregnancy by providing timely education, outreach and access to reliable contraceptives.
A high priority must be placed on encouraging teens to take responsibility for educating themselves and using clinical contraceptive services, if they make the decision to become sexually active.
Contraceptives must be affordable and conveniently located; services for teens must be user friendly, timely and confidential. Both females and males must have access to these services.
Teens must have the education and counseling they need for the effective use of contraceptives.
This strategy is most successful when it includes community partners such as schools, the faith community, health-care providers, retailers and community based organizations.
All sexually active youth have the necessary access, knowledge and skills to use contraceptives effectively and consistently.
- Work to ensure contraceptives and services are readily accessible and available through retailers and health-care professionals.
- At sites offering contraceptives, promote the availability of information about sexually transmitted infections, relationship violence, and alcohol and drug abuse.
- Contact your local health department to learn about the availability of low- or no-cost services for teens in your community.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the use of contraceptives by teens and the state's teen pregnancy rate.
- Among teenagers in the United States, 8 of 10 pregnancies are unintended.
"Contraception Counts" The Alan Guttmacher Institute. 1998.
- Among teens who are sexually active and using contraceptives, the majority of unplanned pregnancies stem from inconsistent or incorrect use.
"Facts in Brief: Contraceptive Use." The Alan Guttmacher Institute. 1998.
- Even teenagers who are not currently sexually active need information about pregnancy prevention in order to prevent future pregnancies.
"Involving Males in Preventing Teen Pregnancy: A Guide for Program Planners." Sonenstein, F., Stewart, K., Lindberg, L., Pernas, M. & Williams, S. The Urban Institute. 1998.
- For each dollar the federal government spends on family planning services, $3.00 is saved on Medicaid costs for pregnancy-related and newborn care.
"Title X: Three Decades of Accomplishment" The Alan Guttmacher Institute. 2001.
Male involvement and leadership
Support active participation of young men and adult males in teen pregnancy prevention and parenting efforts.
The roles men and boys play in families, relationships and community all influence the teen pregnancy rate.
Reducing the teen pregnancy rate requires that boys and young men be educated and given the tools to make good decisions.
A comprehensive and broad-based strategy offers health and sexuality education for young boys, as well as information and services for sexually active men and teen fathers.
Effective male-involvement activities address personal behaviors and decision making, and show boys and young men the impact they have in their communities. They also provide ample opportunity for adult males to serve as teachers, role models, mentors and leaders.
According to Involving Males in Preventing Teen Pregnancy: A Guide for Program Planners, published by the Urban Institute, a review of programs in other states shows that male-involvement efforts take different forms depending on the background of the young men, including their age, knowledge level and the nature of their community.
Encourage and provide opportunities for males (young men and adult males) to be actively involved in teen pregnancy prevention and parenting efforts.
- Engage young men in planning and providing male-involvement activities.
- As part of the planning process for male-involvement activities, find out what participants know and what they're interested in learning. Build on participants' strengths and abilities with a positive philosophy, based upon respect.
- In programs, use male staff and volunteers (particularly community leaders and peer mentors) who are knowledgeable about male issues.
- Create a friendly environment, display positive images, create a special place, and provide engaging activities, based on the males' ages and cultural identity.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the use of contraceptives, the number of teen births fathered by adult males and the state's teen pregnancy rate.
- The State of Oregon has provided funding to eight local male-involvement pilot programs. The intent was to study how to incorporate effective male-involvement strategies at the local level. Principles and recommended actions were developed from the Urban Institute guide, which was distributed to 36 local coalitions.
- Statewide, there have been a number of partnerships developed to build and support male involvement in preventing teenage pregnancy. These included the MARS (Male Advocates for Responsible Sexuality) Program in Benton County and STRIVE (Successful Teens Reaching Inward for Vision and Empowerment) in Douglas County.
Balancing health, safety and legal issues
Promote the balance between safety and accountability in the handling of teen-sexual-abuse and teen-pregnancy cases.
There are legal as well as social issues involved in teen pregnancy. Children deserve to be supported by both parents. To do this, services need to encourage both parents to be active and positive influences in their child's life.
The methods of achieving this include paternity establishment, collection efforts by the state's Child Support Program, and encouraging and facilitating positive involvement by both parents.
A portion of teen pregnancies result from criminal acts such as rape, incest, abuse and exploitation. The challenge for communities is to effectively respond to the legal issues involved in these pregnancies without negatively affecting the health and safety of the teens involved.
There are currently pilot projects in three counties where the multi-disciplinary team (MDT), made up of investigators, prosecutors and social-service providers, is changing its approach. The projects seek a balance to help law enforcement pursue predators without discouraging young people from accessing services. The pilot results will be available in June 2002.
- Children are emotionally and financially supported by both parents.
- Fathers are identified early and help meet their children's needs; there are appropriate legal and financial consequences to encourage such support.
- "Mandatory reporters" are educated about their obligation to report sexual abuse.
- Increase awareness of parents' legal rights and responsibilities.
- Increase early identification of biological fathers and establishment of legal paternity.
- Increase awareness about the responsibility of mandatory reporting of sexual abuse.
- Contact your county's MDT to learn how the county responds to cases of alleged teen sexual abuse, especially those that result in pregnancy.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the number of teen births fathered by adult males and the state's teen pregnancy rate.
Establishing legal paternity means children will know who their biological father is and will be legally recognized as the person's offspring.
To establish legal paternity, parents can sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity at the hospital or birthing center. Or, the parents can later sign a paternity affidavit.
Families receiving services from the Department of Human Services or the Oregon Youth Authority can get help in establishing paternity through the Oregon Child Support Program.
Every county district attorney is mandated by Oregon law to develop a multi-disciplinary team that staffs cases of child abuse, including cases of teen sexual abuse.
Oregon has a "mandatory reporter" law that requires many professionals who have frequent contact with children to report possible abuse.
Information about who is a mandatory reporter and how to make reports can be found in the pamphlet "Recognizing and Reporting Child Abuse & Neglect."
Local MDTs are also a resource on mandatory reporting, especially in regard to teen pregnancy.
Support and promote community services and programs essential to the health and well-being of young parents and their children.
Strategy seven offers support to programs within communities that provide services to young mothers, fathers and their children. It affirms the unique needs of these families, and recommends actions for maximized support in meeting those needs.
Oregon communities can benefit from coordinated programs and services for young parents that support positive choices and reduce subsequent teenage pregnancies.
It is crucial that young-parent programs are culturally competent and respectful; use multiple strategies to address the diversity of the needs of young parents; tailor services to the individual; use strategies that are age- and gender-appropriate; and are flexible.
Young parents have the self-worth, skills, knowledge and resources they need to make positive life decisions and postpone additional teenage pregnancies.
- Facilitate discussions with local communities to develop and implement recommended components of young-parent programs and services.
- Develop and distribute a statewide inventory of young-parent programs operating in Oregon.
- Make available to young-parent programs the DIRECTIONS Service Providers Guidebook: Pregnancy Prevention for Young Parents.
Among the indicators that reflect the success of this strategy are those measuring the number of second teen pregnancies, the use of contraceptives, and the state's teen pregnancy rate.
Repeat births among adolescents are of particular concern for several reasons. An adolescent with two or more children is at greater risk of experiencing, and less likely to overcome, a host of difficulties associated with early adolescent childbearing, including pre-term birth, low birth weight and failure to thrive.
When compared to similarly situated women who delay childbearing until age 20 or 21, adolescent mothers and their children experience a number of adverse social, health and economic consequences.
For example, in an increasingly competitive economy, the adolescent years are best devoted to education and building the skills needed to old a job that pays a living wage. This is increasingly difficult while parenting. Therefore, it is clear that young-parent services are an important strategy for the health of our families and communities.
Based on information from:
"Reviving Interest in Policies and Programs to Help Teens Prevent Repeat Births." Dailard, Cynthia. The Alan Guttmacher Report on Public Policy. 2000.
"Kids Having Kids: A Special Report on the Costs of Adolescent Childbearing." Robin Hood Foundation, Maynard, Rebecca A., Editor. 1996.
"Tracking Healthy People 2010." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.