Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Infamous Miley Pole Dance

I have a confession to make. I did not watch the Teen Choice Awards on August 9. I'm sure I was doing something very constructive with my time that caused me to miss out on this incredible showcase of talent - perhaps I was washing my hair. At any rate, it's been tough to ignore the controversy that has stemmed from that evening's festivities with Miley Cyrus and her alleged "pole dance."

Now, in an effort at some journalistic integrity, I found Miley’s performance of “Party in the USA” on youTube and watched the entire thing. The controversy over the dance is clear. Miley was, in fact, using the pole, which was attached to a Miley’s Ice Cream stand (that’s a blog topic for another day), to steady herself as she traveled across the stage. Obviously, standing on an ice cream cart in high-heel boots while singing and dancing requires some level of support. The fact that she occasionally danced in the DIRECTION of the pole was purely accidental, I’m sure.

So here’s my question: in what world do we need pre-teen Hannah Montana followers involved in a debate over whether or not Miley actually pole-danced during a performance? I would prefer that my 12 year old niece not even know what pole-dancing is, much less be able to accurately distinguish between that and dancing near a pole while holding on to it for balance.

I appreciate one astute YouTube blogger’s description of the Teen Choice Awards – that they are “one pair of hooker heels away from getting the word teen knocked off the title.” Of course, the Teen Choice Awards alone are not to blame. We live in a world where even our youngest females are constantly depicted in sexual ways in all avenues of media: where it’s not enough to be smart, compassionate, funny, talented, or even attractive. One must be sexy, hot, steamy, and show lots of skin.

In the world of teen pregnancy prevention, this presents a huge hurdle. How do we send the message to a 14 year old girl that she is more than what she physically presents to the world when she receives messages at every turn to the contrary? And how do we help a 14 year old boy understand that females are more than a potential hook-up when he repeatedly sees images of females highlighting body parts that may not even be fully developed yet?

There are no easy answers to these questions. But in an effort to invest in today’s young people, I for one will make sure I’m washing my hair during the 2010 Teen Choice Awards. And I will make sure my niece is doing so as well.

by: Dana Becker, Technical Assistance Specialist, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Contact Dana:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Time to Prepare

Living on the coast, you learn about the seasons - not just spring summer winter and fall, not just football and basketball and baseball (soccer is eternal.) No you learn about Hurricane Season. You learn that beginning the middle of August it is a good thing to turn to the Weather Channel at least once a week at ten minutes before the hour to check out Tropical Storm Update! Just in case!

Even though it has been a relatively slow season, things have started to heat up in the tropics with Ana, Bill and Claudette forming in just a few hours. With each storm, we are told that now is the time to prepare—just in case. Get water and food for at least a few days; make an evacuation plan, get the materials together to protect your home. Bill is now a major hurricane, but models show it curving out to sea, not hitting the SC coast, but still we are told, now is the time to prepare.

But what about the storms that we know are going to hit...
In 2006 there were 8175 babies born to teenagers. They are now 3 years old. That means that in 3 years they will begin first grade. That is 327 first grade classes. Statistics tell us that most of those children will be living in homes below the poverty line—putting them at risk. This is the side of preventing teen pregnancies that often gets overlooked. We forget that these infants grow up to be first graders. What are we doing to prepare?

Unfortunately, as a state we tend to be going in the opposite direction. Rather than preparing for the coming storm, we are making cuts that increase the coming intensity. A recent article in the Charleston Post and Courier reported that due to the ongoing budget crisis:

The Department of Health and Environmental Control has shrunk dramatically in the last decade, shedding just under 1,500 workers. Its funding has been cut by $35 million in the past year.

Among the programs affected:
  • The Postpartum Newborn Home Visit Program is now limited to the most high-risk infants on a referral-only basis.
  • The Family Planning program's budget for contraceptive services has dropped by 21 percent and fewer clinics are offering the service.
  • Several county health clinics have been closed and hours reduced at other places.
What does this say about our preparation for the future? What does this say about how we hope to deal with what we know will be coming our way? What does this say about what we think is important?

Everyday the National Weather Service informs us of storms that might be coming our way. They urge us to be prepared. Part of the role of the SC Campaign is to let us know of the storm that is coming our way. Our job is to be prepared?

How are we doing?

By: Rev. Don Flowers, Immediate Past Board Chair and Pastor of Providence Baptist Church
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Talk About Expensive

The USDA just released the annual "Cost of Raising a Child" report for children born in 2008, and boy-oh-boy are those little tots expensive!

On average, a middle class family can expect to spend over $220,000 raising the children born in 2008 until they are 17 years old, and that isn’t counting for inflation which brings that number to around $300,000. If we do general math (evaluators don’t get upset) and just divide that $220K by 17 years, that equals almost $13,000 a year to have a child! To top that off, this report ONLY counts the necessities, like food and shelter, but leaves out all non essential items!

Income can greatly affect what is spent on a child throughout their childhood and through high school. A family with an average income less than $56,870 can expect to spend almost $160,000 on one child through high school. That means that even adults earning minimum wage will spend upwards of $159,000 on each child in the family!

When speaking with young people about the cost of teen pregnancy, it is important to highlight the financial implications that having children at an early age can have on your life. These are just some numbers to help you start that conversation.

Check out the summary of the entire report for more information.

by: Taylor Wilson, Technical Assistance Associate, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Contact Taylor:

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Getting Your Feet Wet

MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn: there are so many different social networking sites that serve so many different audiences, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Here are three simple things to keep in mind when you decide to tackle the social networking beast…

Set Your Goals: Why does your organization want/need to be on a social networking site? This is important. Developing a presence on a social networking site can take hours for a single staff person to build and maintain, so knowing what your goals are ahead of time is key. You can use a social networking presence as part of your overall public awareness strategy, advocacy plan, or fundraising campaign. You can also use it to communicate with the target populations you serve. Knowing what you hope to accomplish first will help you decide which site to start with and how to begin crafting your presence.

Take Your Time: Do not try to develop a presence on every single social networking site out there. There are way too many for that! You’ll never be able to successfully maintain them all. Find the one site that is the best fit for your organization and grow your community there. Many social networking sites allow users to socialize with the people and the organizations that share the same goals and beliefs as you and your organization. Don’t worry if you don’t have 1000 contacts in the first month; building a network takes time, patience, and persistence. This means that you will have to actively recruit users! Then, after you get a grip on one site, consider creating a profile on additional sites.

Evaluate: Treat your social networking site like an extension of your organization’s website. Once it’s developed, it’s out there for the entire network of users to view. After people have access, evaluate whether or not it is meeting its purpose. How can it be improved? There is always room for improvement in every aspect of your public awareness strategy; your social networking presence is no different. You need to constantly think of new ways to keep your presence fresh and exciting, and ways you can incorporate it into other public awareness activities.

Taking the leap into social networking can be fun, and if you’re anything like me, it’s also an important part of your daily activities. Think of your networking presence as an office plant. It has be watered, nurtured, and spoken to regularly for it to stay alive.

Remember that when you’re tired of all the tweets and status updates, these sites provide our organizations FREE access to millions of people throughout the world – and with networks of over 300 million active users, it’s a world that we can‘t afford to ignore.

by: Zenica Chatman, Public Awareness Associate, SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Contact Zenica: