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Report: Progress Stalled on Preventing Teen Sexual Activity

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August 21, 2007

According to a new federal report, progress has stalled on the effort to discourage sexual activity in teens. Comments from Brigid Riley, executive director, Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting (MOAPPP).

A new federal report finds efforts to discourage sexual activity among teens have stalled. Minnesota teen advocate Brigid Riley (with the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy, Prevention and Parenting) says one reason is that the kids most open to the “abstinence” message…have already heard it.

"It’s harder to reach some young people with the message of ‘waiting.’ And so, the kids who could be reached by existing interventions, and encouraged to wait…those kids have been reached."

The report notes the level of sexual activity among teens started declining in the early 90s, but has held steady for the last five years. Riley says it’s time to find new ways to get through to more kids.

Riley says we need a realistic approach that discourages sexual activity and also focuses on education and the health and safety of kids.

"There are, and always have been, some teenagers who are sexually active. Those young people need the information to prevent pregnancy, to prevent HIV, to prevent sexually-transmitted infection."

Riley says, while the number of active teens has gone down in Minnesota over the past 15 years, almost half of all 12th graders have had intercourse. She notes more than 65 hundred girls under 20 get pregnant each year.

Riley says, while the current strategy of discouraging sexual activity among teens has had some success, we need a more comprehensive approach to reach more kids.

"We do know that young people understand a message about waiting, and about being safe and using protection. That’s the real, balanced approach. And, young people who get that message actually do wait longer, and use protection more readily when they are sexually-active."

A new federal report finds efforts to reduce teenage sexuality activity, to prevent pregnancy and sexual disease, have stalled. Jim Wishner has reaction from Minnesota teen advocate Brigid Riley.

...pregnancy prevention. (Tag: Riley says the level of sexual activity among teens, which had been declining since the early 90s, isn’t any more. So, it may be time to update the way we get the message out.)

Riley is at 651-644-1447. The data comes from a “Youth Risk Behavior Survey” done every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More at www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/

Jim Wishner/David Law, Public News Service - MN