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

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    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.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.