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Poll: Latinos See Teen Pregnancy as a Major Issue

PHOTO: A new poll among U.S. Latinos shows strong support for high school sex education that includes the topics of birth control, sexually-transmitted diseases and abstinence. CREDIT: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
PHOTO: A new poll among U.S. Latinos shows strong support for high school sex education that includes the topics of birth control, sexually-transmitted diseases and abstinence. CREDIT: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
May 10, 2013

PHOENIX – Strong majorities of U.S. Latinos say preventing teenage pregnancy is a major issue, and that high school sexual education should include the topics of birth control and sexually-transmitted diseases, as well as abstinence. Those are some of the results of a new poll from Planned Parenthood and New York University.

In Phoenix, the inner-city Creighton School District has just adopted a comprehensive sexuality education program. Board member Tiffany Arenas says parental involvement is emphasized.

"Parents are encouraged to talk to their children about what they're learning in school," says Arenas. "They can share what the family values are, as well as answer any questions that their child has."

More than eight in ten Creighton District students are Latino, and nine in ten are from low-income families. Arenas says there's a strong correlation between teen pregnancy and poverty. She is convinced that school-based sexuality education is critical to jump-starting discussions between teenagers and their parents.

"The advantage of having the school involved is getting that basic information out to students, giving them medically-accurate information and getting them thinking about broader life topics like healthy relationships," she explains.

The federal Title X program provides free or low-cost reproductive health services, including birth control, to low-income teens. At Arizona Family Health Partnership, there are several ways teens can get help, says executive director Bre Thomas.

"They are able to either go online and look for a clinic near their zip code on our website," says Thomas. "They can talk to providers in the area, and word-of-mouth. I think with teens, word of mouth is pretty important for services that we provide."

The website is arizonafamilyhealth.org. Arizona has the sixth-highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the nation, although Thomas says it has decreased in recent years.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ