Helping teenagers improve communication skills, emotional understanding, and healthy conflict resolution is key to reducing teen pregnancies according to a report released by the non-profit PAIRS Foundation.
In a research study involving 137 teenage mothers and expectant teenage mothers in Florida’s Miami-Dade county, PAIRS Foundation found that teaching youngsters skills for confiding, expressing emotions, and constructive conflict resolution significantly reduced factors that lead to teen childbearing.
South Florida has one of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the nation, with more than 6,000 children born to mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 between 2005 and 2007. Statewide, more than 25,000 babies were born to teen mothers during this period.
The PAIRS Foundation study involved delivering brief classes on communication skills, emotional understanding, and healthy conflict resolution to teenage girls in Miami-Dade County Public Schools over a five week period. Months later, PAIRS assessed student improvements in areas previous research has identified as critical to preventing teen pregnancies.
Results of the study indicated:
• 86% reported an improved ability to say “no” to unwanted sexual advances;
• 82% reported a greater ability to confide feelings about sexual issues with significant others;
• 77% were more likely to consider consequences of their decisions about sexual behavior;
• 63% reported increased likelihood to insist on birth control;
• 64% said their ability to talk with friends about sex improved;
• 53% said their ability to talk with parents, stepparents or guardians about sex improved.
A 2004 study by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy estimated teen childbearing in Florida cost taxpayers (federal, state, and local) nearly $500 million annually, primarily as result of taxpayer costs associated with public health care, child welfare, incarceration, and lost tax revenue due to decreased earnings and spending.
Earlier this year, President Barack Obama highlighted the importance of reducing teen pregnancies nationwide.
“Despite progress over the last decade, three out of every ten young women in the United States become pregnant. Teen pregnancies present a number of risks for both mother and child, including increased health problems; higher likelihood of neglect, poverty, and involvement in the criminal justice and child welfare systems; and greater obstacles in attaining education.”
The President called for a renewed commitment to “promoting parent-child communication, and investing in programs that have been proven to reduce teen pregnancy.”
PAIRS CEO Seth Eisenberg said the research results are very encouraging.
“We know that helping teens improve communication with family, friends and others is critical to reducing teen pregnancies and helping young people consider the consequences of their decisions about sex We’re very encouraged by the result of this brief program and hope to expand services to reach greater numbers of teens and their parents.”
The PAIRS Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 1983 to teach skills that enhance emotional understanding, communication, and healthy conflict resolution. The Foundation has trained more than 2,000 program facilitators worldwide who deliver classes to thousands of participants each year. In 2006, PAIRS Foundation was awarded a multi-year, multi-million dollar grant by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families to conduct a demonstration project in South Florida to help reduce the rate of marital and family breakdown and improve outcomes for children.
PAIRS classes, ranging from nine to 120 hours, are offered regularly throughout South Florida, in many communities nationwide, and over the Internet. For more information, call (877) 724-7748, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.PAIRS.com.