09/27/2012 03:06 pm ET Updated Nov 27, 2012

Keeping New York's Youth Safe and Healthy

We never cease to be amazed at those who would oppose providing our young people with the accurate information and resources they need to lead safe and healthy lives. In New York City, teens make up more than one in four diagnosed STI cases, and the vast majority of teen pregnancies are unintended, according to the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Young people living in areas of high poverty, which also tend to be communities of color, face disparities in the form of higher STI infection and unintended pregnancy when compared to other teens in the city. This is especially concerning when you consider that one in three young people in grades 9-12 are currently sexually active.

Making sure our young people are safe, healthy and have the accurate information they need to stay that way has always been an important part of Planned Parenthood's mission. Planned Parenthood of New York City, in partnership with other New York Planned Parenthood affiliates, recently launched "NowUKnow" a video and text-message campaign aimed at educating at-risk young people between the ages of 13-21 in New York City and surrounding areas about the prevention of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The campaign is funded by the Comprehensive Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention grant from the New York State Department of Health and hopes to start a long-term, ongoing conversation with teens through text messages that offer tips about staying safe and healthy.

Young people can join the campaign via the "NowUKnow" website as well as video ads being featured on several websites over the next few months. In two short videos, young people are introduced to "Troy" and "Lisa" who have growing concerns after a condom breaks during a sexual encounter. Users can then sign up to the campaign via text message and receive updates from "Troy" and "Lisa" as their story unfolds. Over the course of the campaign the two stories will merge. The user will also be provided with opportunities to obtain more information regarding birth control options, connect with someone at Planned Parenthood to ask questions, and find their local Planned Parenthood health center. While text messaging is the preferred mode of communication for young people, we also provide them with the opportunity to continue the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Our teens want and need accurate information about their sexual and reproductive health, which is why we must do everything we can to ensure we are properly educating young people. We feel that comprehensive sex education and campaigns like "NowUKnow," are critical to preventing unintended pregnancy and STIs -- because we know that young people who have accurate information make better decisions. So let's make sure the young people in our lives are equipped with the knowledge they need.