News / Health

NYC Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program Keeps Youths on Track

A Model New York Program to Keep Young Lives On Tracki
X
April 19, 2013 12:02 AM
Each year, 750,000 American girls under the age of 20 -- most of them unmarried -- become pregnant. It’s one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized West. Those who give birth and become teen mothers -- more than half -- face often difficult futures: a greater chance of poverty, of dropping out of school, and unemployment. New York City has an especially high rate, with about 20,000 teen pregnancies each year. But since 1984, an after-school prevention program run by the Children’s Aid Society in New York has succeeded in halving the number of pregnancies among participants. As VOA's Carolyn Weaver reports, the effort starts young, with children who are ten and eleven years old.
A Model New York Program to Keep Young Lives On Track
Carolyn Weaver
Each year, about 750,000 American girls under the age of 20 become pregnant. It’s one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the industrialized West. New York City's rate is especially high: more than 20,000 teenagers become pregnant each year. For those who keep their baby - more than half of teen moms around the country - the decision often leads to dropping out of school, unemployment and poverty.

As a young teacher in the Bronx in 1959, Michael Carrera saw how teen pregnancy in one of New York City's poorest neighborhoods foreclosed the hopes of many young girls and boys who became parents long before they were capable of taking care of themselves, let alone a family.

His interest led him to develop a pregnancy prevention program for the Children's Aid Society in 1984, a program he has run ever since. It is one of the relative few with proven effectiveness: Participants in the Carrera after-school program have half the pregnancy rate of other New York teens from similarly poor backgrounds.

The program starts before students reach puberty, with schoolchildren only 10 or 11 years old, and lasts through high school. There are sessions after school each day and on many Saturdays, as well as over the summer.

Sex education is only part of it. Carrera, who has a graduate degree in psychology, says the key is to address all of a child's needs, from physical and mental health, to knowledge and practical skills, to the need for achievement and a sense of mastery. These things, he says, help young people envision and plan futures of attainment.

“When young people believe that good things are going to happen in their lives, when they feel there is promise of success, they reduce risks on their own," he said. "So, we don’t prevent teen pregnancy - they do."

In addition to attending workshops on sex, relationships and family-life, students train in individual sports, such as swimming or squash, and take classes in self-expressive arts, such as writing. They learn how to find and keep part-time jobs and open their own bank accounts. They also receive educational and college counseling, and full medical and dental care.

22-year-old Kaity Modesto stayed in through college, getting job-coaching, and even money for workplace attire. As for sex and relationships, Modesto said she learned things her parents had not known to teach her.
 
“Even how to say no - it’s very hard in some circumstances as a woman, to say no," she said. "Because you might like someone, but you’re not ready for that step, and you think you should be. And [in] those kinds of things, the program definitely made [helped] me build confidence.”
 
“The program saved my life. It saved my life," said Felipe Ayala, who now works as the program’s college advisor. One of the first participants in 1984, he came from a tough neighborhood. He said most of his peers ended up in prison, became addicted to drugs, or were killed in gang or drug violence.

“The program kept us involved in things, and made sure we weren’t looking to have sex," said Ayala. "We weren’t in lonely places with young women, we weren’t taking young women to have sex with them, and becoming fathers before we were supposed to.”
 
Carrera, now in his mid-70s, said he seeks to give participants everything that he wanted for his own children. He said he looks for that same "desperation to help" in prospective staff.

"I say to them sometimes, 'I wish I could take an MRI of your soul, because I want to see if you understand the importance of gentleness and generosity.' I want to feel that they really do believe that these young people have gifts and talents, and no matter how deeply they're buried, or what the appearance of the young person, that they're going to be working with them weeks and months and years in order for it to be surfaced and used. That's the kind of desperation I'm talking about," he said.

The Carrera program is not cheap. The investment of $2,500 per child per year is perhaps the main reason it has not been more widely copied.

Still, it now reaches 4,000 students in 12 states, including 2,000 in New York City. And it could expand in the future: The Obama White House honored it with a “social innovation” award, and in 2010 ordered for the first time that federal funding for sex education go only to programs of proven effectiveness in reducing teen pregnancy.

You May Like

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid