THE BLOG
03/07/2013 04:27 pm ET Updated May 07, 2013

New York City's Fight to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

A new ad campaign that aims to highlight teen pregnancy prevention in New York City is generating headlines this week -- but the important story is the innovative approaches the city has brought to this work over the last several years, which helped cut teen pregnancy by 27 percent in New York in the last 10 years.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg's leadership, New York City has become a model for how to educate and empower young people. Over the last decade, working with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Department of Education, New York City's schools and social service agencies have partnered closely with community groups, like Planned Parenthood of New York City, to reach young people where they are and give them the information and access to birth control that they need to prevent teen pregnancy.

This plays out every day, across the nation's largest city.

In the South Bronx, students in many public high schools receive expanded sex education geared toward helping them prevent unintended pregnancy. The city partners with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and community organizations from within the South Bronx to develop and deliver the innovative program.

Across the city, 25 percent of public high school students have access to reproductive health centers within their schools -- where they can get information and support, as well as direct access to contraception.

In some public schools in New York -- many of them serving communities that were historically neglected -- school nurses and doctors provide sexual health information, pregnancy tests, birth control, and referrals. When this program, Connecting Adolescents to Comprehensive Health (CATCH) came under fire last year from groups that oppose access to family planning, the Bloomberg Administration stood strong.

Because it is such a multifaceted issue, no one strategy has helped cut teen pregnancy so significantly in New York -- and no single approach will help us continue making progress. Collectively, the innovative and aggressive strategies that New York City is using have become a model for how to effectively prevent teen pregnancy.

It's no secret that Planned Parenthood of New York City was disappointed with the Human Resources Administration's latest ad campaign, which uses provocative language to show why teens should avoid becoming pregnant. As a nonprofit health care provider, we pride ourselves on being nonjudgmental, and our concern is that the ads have the effect of making young women, men and children feel judged.

It's not the ad campaign we would have developed, but it doesn't negate the much broader body of work that New York City leaders have done over the last decade. And it doesn't change the enormous pride that Planned Parenthood of New York City has in our partnership with the city.

What matters here is that young people have access to information and health services that can help them prevent unintended pregnancy. Nobody does that better than New York City, and what's happening here is leading the way for the rest of the nation.