Monday, September 15, 2014

Take a Man on a Date Month!


A friend of mine recently started dating someone. After their first date he asked for a second by informing her that September was “Take a Man on a Date Month."   

The idea of taking a man on a date made me start thinking about female assertiveness, gender roles, and healthy relationships. I know several females who would be very uncomfortable with the idea of asking a man out on a date—almost to the point of finding it socially unacceptable.  

When I think about healthy relationships, however, assertiveness and the ability to state your wants and needs—as well as the ability to respect the wants and needs of your partner—are very important. So simple, right? Well, not exactly so simple. In the past when I have asked for the second date, my friends have looked at me like I was an alien from Mars! 

Also, in general, we know that clear communication, respect and boundaries in relationships are often easier said than done - which is why our youth need ongoing support and positive modeling in all relationships. 

I sometimes wonder if a lack of assertiveness at the start of relationships will lead to people being unable to state their needs later on in relationships. While I am not currently a parent, when I become one I hope that I can teach my kids to say what they need and want and to not allow traditional gender roles to keep them from making healthy connections. Maybe I’ll even use “Take a Man on a Date Month” to do it. 

by Elizabeth Polinsky, University of SC Master of Social Work Intern, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, August 25, 2014

The Good Enough Teenager


Do you simply want to survive your children's teen years? Or, would you like to have a more engaged, joyful experience of parenting? I stumbled across an interesting article in the 2014 winter edition of The Law of Attraction magazine titled Are you an Available Parent? Dr. John Duffy specializes in "maximizing satisfaction and minimizing conflict between parents and their teenagers – what we call Parent-Child Connectedness in the teen pregnancy prevention world. Duffy describes being an available parent as acknowledging, accepting and challenging your teen openly and without judgment. Overall, the article was very enlightening and even as a non-parent I can use some of the techniques with the young people I come in contact with on a consistent basis. 

Here are a few highlights:
 
·         If your teen isn't good enough in your eyes, they will throw in the towel on your relationship as well which may lead to years of heartache, frustration and joylessness.
·         By remaining available to your child during his/her teenage years, you lay a foundation for a healthy, loving relationship with him/her in their adult years. 
·         Instead of focusing solely on your teen's behavior, over which you exert little or no control, focus on your behavior as a parent, which you have full control. 
·         Use your teen’s missteps and experiences as opportunities and teachable moments. 
·         Don't feel like your teen is always being oppositional for sport. It's a normal and important part their development. 
 
by Meredith Talford, Training and Technical Assistance Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
  • This article is adapted from his book The Available Parent. For more information visit http://drjohnduffy.com/  
  • Dr. John Duffy is not related our Director of Research and Evaluation, Dr. Jennifer Duffy.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Six Months and Counting...

So, next Tuesday marks my six month milestone with the SC Campaign. And those months have flown by. It’s been a busy time at the SC Campaign. Our 20th Anniversary Gala, followed quickly by Summer Institute, sprinkled in with Contraceptive Counseling, ICE, Seventeen Days, Reproductive Coercion, Leadership, Be Protective, Social Media and youth, training trips to San Antonio and Knoxville…WOW!! Busy is an understatement. And the fall looks even busier! I’m still learning about CEUs, nursing CEUs, MAPPS hours and all of the different processes we go through to get these approved. I’m so very thankful to all of our partners for their patience as I learn and adjust. And I’m especially thankful for Markessce Craft and Sara Lamberson for helping with all of the logistics.

We are excited about several new trainings we are offering this fall:

Along with some great standards:
  • Making a Difference/Making Proud Choices
  • Safer Choices
  • Reproductive Health 101 
Check out our events page on our website for more information about all of our workshops, and keep checking as we are adding more to our calendar daily.

by Shannon Lindsay, Training Coordinator, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's National Health Center Week!

It’s National Health Center Week – a time to celebrate those who work in health centers across the country, but specifically, I want to thank all of the hardworking individuals who give their time and effort in the health centers within our state. Here is a description of what this week is all about from the event’s website:

“Each year the second week in August is dedicated to celebrating the services and contributions of Community, Migrant, Homeless and Public Housing Health Centers. While there are countless reasons to celebrate America’s Health Centers, among the most important and unique is their long success in providing access to affordable, high quality, cost effective health care to medically vulnerable and underserved people throughout the United States.”

Health centers play an important role in the work of the SC Campaign. Every day, our youth are exposed to messages about love, sex and relationships. Healthcare providers are in a unique position to offer accurate, timely information in a confidential setting. In addition, teens value the time spent with them and the unique counsel that is offered. So this week, give a shout out to someone via social media who works at a health center, send a fruit basket to a health center near you, or simply say THANK YOU to the men and women who work day in and day out to provide important services not just to young people, but to all citizens in South Carolina who need their help.

If you work for a health center, those is charge of the National Health Center Week want to hear from you. Share your stories, photos or videos on what makes your health center special. For more information, visit www.healthcenterweek.com.

by Cayci Banks, Senior Advisor for Communications, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Monday, August 4, 2014

Talking to your teen about substance use and sex: prevention is key

When is the right time to talk to your teen about sex, drugs and alcohol use? The truth is talking about these matters is just as important as talking about drunk driving or preparing for college. While it may not be comfortable at first, the sooner you start talking about these things the better.

Photo credit: Fotolia.com
In the technology-driven world we live in, teens especially, are being exposed to sex and substance use both on the Internet and through friends. This results in teenagers becoming more curious about experimenting with substance or sex at a younger age. Teens may view drinking, smoking and sexual activity as the “cool thing to do” simply from the way it is glamorized in social media and talked about by their peers. Young teens also learn habits from their older siblings simply by viewing photos or status updates on Facebook or Instagram. While we can't completely shield our children from everything, there are ways to educate them on these topics so that they remain safe.

There is also a strong correlation between substance use and teen sexual activity. A study completed by CasaColumbia.org found that, “teens under age 15, who had ever had a drink were twice as likely to have had sex as those who didn’t drink.” The same can be said for teens, who drank ages 15 and up who were “7 times likelier to have had sexual intercourse and twice as likely to have had it with 4 or more partners than non-drinking teens.” [1] What many teens don’t realize is that these numbers don’t include only consensual sex in that age group. Drinking or using drugs might increase the risks for sexual abuse and even rape.

While you may believe that you have a good rope on what your teen is doing at all times, eventually they will be off to college and will need to make decisions regarding sex and substance use on their own. However, alcohol has lead to rising number of unprotected sex. In fact, according to data compiled in 2013 on CollegePrevention.org, “400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex.”Unprotected sex can lead to a slew of problems such as unwanted pregnancy and sexual transmitted diseases. According to the same study, “97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.”[2]

So what can you do as a parent or trusted adult? Again, communication is key. Here are a few solid tips when approaching the subject with your teen.


  • Remain calm and collected. A screaming match between you and your teen will get you nowhere fast. When discussing these topics it’s best to remain calm and non-hysterical. This way your teen will engage in the conversation longer, and will not feel like they will get in trouble if they speak with you about their curiosity about sex or drug and alcohol use. The more you converse with your teen, the more comfortable you both will feel. As much as you may want to completely shut off the topic, it is best to inform your teen about situations they could get into when engaging in substance use such as overdoses, date rape drugs, sexual assault, unprotected sex or unwanted sexual advances. This way, if a dangerous situation does arise one day, they can be prepared to react accordingly.


  • Keep on top of social media. Depending on your personal preference you may not want your teen on social media sites. But if you are constantly being begged to permit it and you decide to give in, have some boundaries. Explain to your teen that anything put on the Internet can never be erased. Oftentimes teens don’t think about the long term and solely focus on the short term. While social media sites do have privacy measures, advise your teen against posting pictures of underage drinking or drug use. Another way to protect your teen is to add them as your friend. If you see anything unusual, ask your teen about it and how they feel casually. This might give you a better insight as to whether they are curious about experimenting with substance or not. 


How have you talked to your teen about these issues?

This blogpost is by guest blogger, Saint Jude Retreats, an alternative to traditional substance use treatment. Saint Jude Retreats provides a program for people with substance use problems that concentrates on self-directed positive and permanent change. Through the program, we offer the opportunity for individuals to self-evaluate and explore avenues for life enhancement.

Resources:
[1] http://www.casacolumbia.org/addiction-research/reports/dangerous-liaisons-substance-abuse-and-sex
[2] http://www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov/statssummaries/snapshot.aspx

Monday, July 28, 2014

It Takes a Village




It takes a whole village to raise a child, but...

it begins with a connection.  This week marked the release of the Annie E. Casey Foundation sponsored 2014 Kids Count Data Book, highlighting state-by-state progress, or lack thereof, around issues affecting children like education, health, poverty and safety. Thanks to our friends and colleagues at the Children's Trust of South Carolina, the agency responsible for South Carolina's data release, we are able to consider the well-being of children on a state and county level. South Carolina ranks 45th in the country for overall child well-being, which reflects very little progress in a positive direction. More than a quarter of a million children live in poverty, which contributes to the state's overall stagnation around health, education and the economy. The foundation is weak and even when we consider "bright spots" like teen birth rates (which have fallen by 47% over the past two decades), we realize just how fragile progress remains. 

The fragility of progress, and our often short attention spans, places unique responsibility on all of us - from youth-serving professionals and advocates to parents, faith leaders and government officials. I truly believe that most people care about children and their families, especially those who are in poverty, sick or marginalized in some other capacity. So, if most people care, then why do we continue to see such negative social and economic outcomes? Well, of course the answer is complicated, but I strongly believe the answer at least begins with our ability to genuinely engage and connect with each other.

Staff members from the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy were able to join the Children's Trust of South Carolina during a couple of media activities this past week and, as I am sure happens every year, the media wanted to know "now what?"  We continue to have these data releases -notably, in the near future, the SC Campaign will work with state partners to produce data specific to teen births and the connection to other social issues. But, how will we use this data to inform effective strategies, to collaborate (like the Children's Trust of SC and the SC Campaign) and to CONNECT with the community at large?  How will we remind each other that we are ALL connected and impacted when a child grows up in poverty, when a child is consistently behind academically, when a young person becomes a parent, or when a family goes without healthcare? We should also consider the connections and overlaps between these issues so that strategies for improvement are comprehensive and reflect all of the factors that contribute to poverty, educational attainment, and health, etc.

Of course we cannot provide all of the answers with one data release or via a blog. But we can engage each other through community forums, volunteer efforts, mentoring and individual support for causes that effectively reach the homeless, the working poor, young parents, and so many others who often just need a stronger foundation from which to progress. 

Let's be that village we so often reference in our speeches and conference themes. Let's also remember this great African proverb is only a cliché if we fail to make the connections necessary to genuinely affect change.
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*It takes a whole village to raise a child - Igbo and Yoruba (Nigeria) Proverb

Monday, July 21, 2014

Giving teens some space

It’s no secret that the Hartsville Boys and Girls club does great work, but the Teen Center needed a serious face lift. So when the Midlands class of the spring 2014 Diversity Leadership Institute was choosing a project to work on in Hartsville, S.C., the Boys and Girls club seemed like an obvious choice.

“We had three people in our group from the Darlington/Hartsville community and another who grew up there,” said Doug Taylor, Chief Program Officer at the South Carolina Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and a member of the Midlands class. “It was a known need in the community that the Boys and Girls Club building was not in good shape.”

Over the past three months the group has spent time transforming the drab brown and white Teen Center into the ultimate teen hangout. The space is now an inviting bright blue, with new couches, a TV, and even study stations for the teens to comfortably do their homework. The teens will get their first peek at their new space on Thursday, when the teen center will hold its grand reopening.

But the Boys and Girls Club is about more than just giving teens a place to be. It’s about preparing our young people to be leaders in their community.

“Programs like this are so important because kids need access to caring adults when parents or guardians are at work,” Taylor said. “They need to be engaged and not just sitting around wasting time.”

That’s why Taylor’s group also made sure the Boys and Girls club staff had the resources they need to educate the teens on important life skills.

For Taylor, that meant working with the staff this summer to implement a teen pregnancy prevention curriculum, Making Proud Choices. The curriculum emphasizes safer sex by teaching teens about abstinence, condoms, communicating with their partner, and strategies to delay initiating sex.

The Boys and Girls Club staff will be able to sustain the program long after Taylor’s group has graduated, thanks to continued training from the SC Campaign and funds from the Department of Health and Environmental Control's Personal Responsibility and Education Program.

Taylor is confident the project can be sustained, thanks to the passion he found in the community.

“The best part was getting to meet and work with individuals who are committed to making their community better and who can follow through,” Taylor said. “It wasn’t ‘why don’t we try this, why don’t we try that’ they’re out there making it happen.”

by Kylee Perez, Communications Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy