SANTA BARBARA COUNTY: Uses New Strategy for Teen Pregnancy Prevention
Planned Parenthood in Santa Barbara County is taking a new approach to curbing teen pregnancy through a five-year program called Adelante Amigos, the Santa Barbara News-Press reports. The program, which maintains two boys' support groups and one girls' group, is designed to "see students all the way" through high school and into their first year after graduation. Using money donated by the Santa Barbara Foundation, the program gives students $10 per week as an incentive to complete homework assignments. Students are also awarded $50 for good report cards. Further, Planned Parenthood provides academic tutors, college scholarships, weekly support meetings and occasional outings to museums and "upscale" restaurants. Although sex education is included in the program, "there's more talk of grades than romance and relationships." Scott McCann, Planned Parenthood's vice president for education, said, "This is the coming thing in pregnancy prevention. You can't just give the facts and offer the kids contraception. If they're bombing out in school, why not have a kid soon? If you don't have hope, why put it off?" Another area program offering a comprehensive pregnancy prevention approach, Healthy Start- Healthy Futures, provides students with basic needs including food, clothing, and health services. "If you are in good health, getting help with your studies and you have enough food and clothing, you're more likely to do well in school and stay in school and wait to have your family. That's what a lot of research shows," Theresa Weissglass, director of the program for area schools, said. This comprehensive philosophy appears to be working: the number of births to teenagers in Santa Barbara County, once "rising at an alarming rate", is dropping steadily. In 1998, there were 268 births to teens, a drop of 21% from 1993. But not everyone favors the new approach. Questioning Planned Parenthood's motives, antiabortion activist Pat Riehle asked, "Are they trying to drum up clients by working with these kids?" (Finucane, Santa Barbara News-Press, 4/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.