New Report: Informed and Empowered: Girls With Options program on family planning for Black and Hispanic female teens

Posted by Children First on September 14, 2021

Under the direction of Dr. Tawanna Jones Morrison of We.REIGN, Girls With Options worked with Black girls to develop a sex ed curriculum, had Black women teach it to Black and Hispanic students, and solicited feedback so the program could be fine-tuned and replicated. In a webinar on September 10, 2021, Children First released the findings of this program in a new report, Informed and Empowered: Girls With Options program on family planning for Black and Hispanic female teens.

One of the most shocking discoveries that came out of the program is that neither boys nor girls take responsibility for birth control. Girls expect boys to have condoms since condoms are easy to get and are thought to be a boy’s responsibility; boys expect girls to be on birth control. But girls don’t have a lot of information on the “what” or “where” of female contraceptives.

A powerful component of the Girls With Options program was helping girls think through their reproductive plan. Nearly every teen girl said they didn’t want to become a mother until turning at least 21 but were stumped when asked how they intended to be sexually active but not become pregnant. And they knew less about long-acting reversable contraceptives like IUDs that could safely delay pregnancy for years.

In the webinar discussion on Informed and Empowered: Girls With Options, Dr. Morrison said, “Young people are not having conversations with their partners, parents or pediatricians before having sex. They don’t have a reproductive plan. Don’t want to have kids for 10 years? What’s your plan to prevent pregnancy?”

Marisha Marsh of Access Matters echoed the importance of this approach. “Our youth hear so many messages about sex already, but when you ask them, ‘What’s your plan?’ they have to think about it. It’s important to have conversations about reproductive health but also personal healing, self-esteem, do they have their basic needs met so they can start planning for the future.”

Teen pregnancy is a public health issue and an educational issue. Two-thirds of Philadelphia School District female students who give birth within four years of starting high school drop out of school, even though the district is working hard to accommodate pregnant girls and teen moms.

When we fail to give girls options, we rob them of opportunity. Find out what to do about it by reading our report, or watching the webinar on the Children First Facebook page.

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