Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Baltimore city has a teen birth rate twice as high as the state of Maryland and three times as high as the national average. With the economic and social consequences of teen pregnancy, a response to this public health crisis was critical. As one of B’more for Healthy Babies' priority programs, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI) aims to reduce teen births in Baltimore City by ensuring that adolescents and young adults have access to 1) Age-appropriate and evidence-based sexual health education and information; 2) Access to effective family planning, youth-friendly, and up-to-date clinical services and; 3) Community support to make informed sexual health decisions.
About the Initiative
While the rates of teen births in Baltimore City have been steadily declining over the past decade, major disparities exist in race and ethnicity. African American and Hispanic teens have rates three and four times higher than Caucasian teens, respectively.
In response to this public health crisis, in 2010, the Baltimore City Health Department (BCHD), in partnership with the Family League of Baltimore, established the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative, a multi-agency task force committed to reducing unintended teen pregnancies. Supporting Healthy Baltimore’s 2015 policy agenda to promote healthy children and adolescents, TPPI has the goal of reducing teen births (15-19 years) by 20% by 2015.
TPPI works to address factors related to policy and systems, services, community, and families – through four key strategies:
- Teen Pregnancy Prevention Taskforce - A coalition of academic, medical, and community agencies provides strategic direction, planning, and implementation of activities. This collaborative ensures a holistic and comprehensive approach to teen pregnancy prevention and reaching special populations such as foster care youth and pregnant and parenting teens.
- Provider Engagement and Outreach – TPPI works to improve clinical services for adolescents and improve teens’ access to family planning services, including home visiting for pregnant and parenting teens. TPPI trains healthcare providers and clinics in the provision of safe, long-acting, and reversible contraceptives (LARCs) for teens and delivering client-centered, youth-friendly care. In addition, TPPI conducts research and annual LARC roundtables to understand facilitators and barriers to LARC use in Baltimore City and develop action plans to increase the uptake of these methods.
- Youth Advisory Council – Having the input of young people is the key to TPPI’s success. This group of youth from Baltimore City meets twice a month to provide feedback and ideas to the initiative. The YAC are also trained to be peer health advocates and utilize various forms of media and outreach activities to educate other youth. Activities include the creation of videos, posting messages to social media networks, and disseminating sexual and reproductive health information through health fairs and peer-led workshops. The YAC is a great way for young people to build their professional and personal leadership skills.
- Social Marketing Campaign- Know What U Want U Choose campaign speaks to young people’s desire to make their own decisions and empowers them to plan for their future. This is accomplished by providing them with reproductive and sexual health information in a fun and interactive way.
The Know What U Want U Choose communication campaign is delivered across the city using a variety of media outlets (youth-friendly website, print materials, and social media) and partnerships with the school system, community-based organizations, and clinical services. This campaign is designed to reach adolescents and young adults ages 13-24 in Baltimore City to increase demand for reproductive health services and link youth to essential resources.
The communication campaign will be expanded in 2014 to target the following groups:
- Males ages 15-20: This messaging will focus on helping young men conceptualize their role in pregnancy prevention and knowing and supporting a partner’s use of birth control.
- Parents of pre-teen and adolescents: This messaging will stress the importance of parents talking to their teens about sex and providing education and other resources to help parents know the facts and facilitate this conversation.
The ongoing activities and success of the initiative are made possible through the collaboration of many partners including our funders, The Abell Foundation, the Henry and Ruth Blaustein Rosenberg Foundation, the David and Barabara B. Hirschhorn, and the Aaron Straus and Lillie Straus Foundation.
Agencies taking part in this initiative include Planned Parenthood of Maryland, Healthy Teen Network, Family League of Baltimore, Baltimore Medical Systems Patterson Park North and East, University of Maryland Upton/Druid Heights, MedStar Hospital, Johns Hopkins Center for Adolescent Health, YO! Center Baltimore, Elev8, Community Resource Schools, Baltimore City Public Schools, and Federally Qualified Health Centers and Title X clinics throughout the city.
What can you do?
This initiative is built on community engagement and collaboration. We invite all interested parties to get involved in the following ways.
- Visit the Know What U Want website and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram(@KnowWhatUWant).
- Encourage young people in your life to join the Youth Advisory Council. Contact Cassandra Davis or call 410-396-1849 for information.
- To join the coalition or receive free Know What U Want U Choose pregnancy prevention materials, please contact Cassandra Davis.