Today, May 6th is the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. It provides Americans an opportunity to engage in a national dialogue centered on educating, engaging and empowering Americans to invest in our future by investing in our youth. After more than a decade of dramatic decline in adolescent pregnancy and birth rates, the United States has unexpectedly experienced increases in 2006 and 2007. Even with the decline, our Nation still ranks first in adolescent pregnancy and birth rates in comparison to other industrialized countries (almost double the next highest country!). The reality is sobering: in the United States one in three girls will become pregnant before age 20, totaling more than 750,000 girls per year.
In Georgia, some advocates and service providers are having isolated success, but most are struggling for the resources, support and training necessary to have a sustainable impact. We can no longer waste time and money. Every day, more than 2,000 girls in America, age 15-19, give birth--in the wealthiest, most educated nation in the world! Neither you nor I should accept this statistic.
My response has, and will always be, that accurate and age appropriate adolescent pregnancy prevention must be a priority at the state and federal levels. There must be a systemic approach where health care providers, teachers, after-school programs, government agencies, public health officials, parents and young people are working together with a shared vision and clearly identifiable outcomes, using proven practices and curricula
Fortunately, in a speech last week marking his first 100 days in office, President Obama commented on forming a Presidential task force to investigate and provide recommendations on reducing unintended pregnancies, especially among teens. I hope his administration will utilize scientific information and fund programs that work to reduce teen pregnancies, HIV and STDs and teach young people to make healthy, responsible choices. The return on the investment will benefit us all.
Realistically, the President cannot do it alone. If adolescent pregnancy prevention is to become a priority, then our strategy, as advocates, must contain two key elements: civic engagement and education. The Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention (G-CAPP), the state-wide organization I founded, whose mission is to eliminate teen pregnancy in Georgia, is doing so in a unique and dynamic way. Starting today, G-CAPP will embark on a groundbreaking, multi-tiered social mobilization campaign to unify and amplify the voices of concerned individuals. We are launching "gPOWER" (www.gpower2009.org) to bring together concerned people who want to see teen pregnancy rates at zero!
gPOWER connects organizations, stakeholders and allies in a virtual meeting room where information and ideas can be shared, discussed and utilized. It is a powerful tool with unlimited potential. If you listen to the video comments of G-CAPP President and CEO Michele Ozumba, it becomes evident why "gPOWER" is needed. Our young men and women need to be heard and we need to listen. "gPOWER provides us the space to do both."
Adolescent pregnancy prevention is an American issue. We must invest in the future of young people so they can become literate, productive and economically self-sustaining citizens.
Join of the movement, today. Learn the facts, lend your voice and get involved.
You have the POWER to make a difference!
Originally published on rhrealitycheck.org