Monday, July 30, 2012

New Generation of Communication....

While attending a recent youth workshop on social media hosted by the SC Campaign's FABULOUS Health Communications Specialist Taylor Wilson, I learned a few things about the art of social media. My discoveries included:

1) As a blogger, I tend to RANT. If you look back at any of my previous blogs on Personal Perspectives, you’ll notice that I’m often motivated to write because something or someone has ticked me off (see my blog on lingerie football if you don’t believe me). Fortunately for me, RANTS are a type of blog content that drive social engagement. Today, however, I’m choosing to LIST and discuss TRENDS. See? I’m learning!

2) My daily tweet totals (at both @upstateSC and @nrnspartanburg) contributed to the 16,000 tweets-per-second in 2012. (Yes. That is SECONDS. As in 60 seconds in a minute which results in 960,000 tweets-per-minute which results in 57,600,000 in an hour which results in numbers larger than I care to calculate!).

3) Only 19.7% of the Facebook user-base is located in the United States. Hablas ingles, mi amigo?

4) Twitter makes people better writers. While I tend to think I’m an excellent writer already, any of my college professors could tell you I had trouble with fluff, embellishment, and excess in my writing. (Notice how I just used three words there that basically all mean the same thing? Yeah. The profs noticed it, too.) Twitter forces you to say what you need to say in 140 characters or less so you must learn to be concise. This, of course, also means that what SHOULD say “Welcome to Not Right Now Spartanburg! We’re glad you’ve decided to be part of this amazing teen pregnancy prevention initative to improve our community and look forward to seeing what you bring to our team” will end up saying “Welcome 2 NRN Sptbg. Glad u joined teen preg prev work 4 our community. Get 2 work.”

5) I am old. In the world of social media, those of us who didn’t GROW up with it have much more trouble KEEPING up with it. My 13-year old niece taught me things I could do on my i-pad that I’d never known about. My 11-year old nephew added a baseball game app that now keeps flashing at me to do something with it. Young people aren’t afraid to try out something new and, in fact, are often looking for the even-better next thing out there.

Why did I choose to share all of this with you? Because, as one incredibly smart Health Communications Specialist I know shared, if we aren’t bringing the issue of teen pregnancy to the social media realm, we will quickly make ourselves irrelevant. And one of the best ways to bring the issue to social media is by engaging our young people using that platform.

To learn a little more about the power of social media, check out this video: Then post a video of your own. Share it on Facebook. Tweet it to all of your followers. Blog about it yourself. Let’s keep the conversation going and meet young people where they are. I’m sure there’s an app for that.

by Dana Becker, Spartanburg Community Specialist for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy

Friday, July 20, 2012

It is All About the Relationships

We read the news about teens in the United States:
  • 47.4% had ever had sexual intercourse
  • 33.7% had had sexual intercourse during the previous 3 months, and, of these;
    • 39.8% did not use a condom the last time they had sex
    • 76.7% did not use birth control pills or Depo-Provera to prevent pregnancy the last time they had sex  15.3%had had sex with four or more people during their life[1]

Those statistics terrify parents, faith leaders, educators, business leaders—and for good reason. The ramifications are more than we want to consider. In light of this, it is easy to narrow our focus. It is all about sex!

Many times that is where the fight centers. It is about sex! It is about teaching individuals not to have sex. It is about teaching individuals to use contraceptives when having sex. It is all about sex!

But it isn’t!

It is about the relationship! It is about the need that humans have to be intimate with another person, to feel desired and wanted and attractive and worthy. It is about being known by another person in the most intimate way possible. It is about being naked—physically and emotionally and know that you are safe!

It is about the relationship with parents, knowing that if you ask a question about sex you won’t be judged, ostracized or put on restriction. It is knowing that your teen is a lot like you were when you were their age—full of all the questions, fears, yearnings. It about allowing your relationship to grow and develop.

It is about the relationship with those who aren’t related to us, caring enough about the students in your class to know that what happens when they leave has as much to do with what they learn as what happens in class. It is knowing that if we don’t care enough about young people that we won’t have customers or workers in a few years, let along any one to pay for my Social Security!

It is about the relationships!

It is helping our young people make good decisions about their sexuality, but even more about how they navigate the troubled emotional waters. As Amber Madison reminded us at the recent Summer Institute, it all comes back to that note we used to pass in grade school: “I like you. Do you like me? Check yes or no!”

As important as it is for us to help our youth deal with questions about sexuality—and we must help them make smart, informed, wise decisions—we also have to help them answer the relationship questions. “How do you know when you are in love? “ “Why does it hurt so bad when she said no?” “Why won’t anyone ask me out?” These questions are just as important—if not more basic!

And a personal note: It is about the relationships! Having been involved with the SC Campaign for over 18 years (I started when I was 7!) it has been the relationships that have been so wonderful. The opportunity to meet individuals from around our state who are so committed to making a better future for our children, who daily seek to make a difference! To hear your stories gives me hope!

It is about the relationships with the incredible members of the board of the SC Campaign. (As the old geezer emeritus member I can say that!) This past year the Molly Talbot—who I first met when she was our graduate assistant—was the chair of the board. Watching her so ably lead us was a joy! (I do sound like an old geezer, don’t I?!)

And it is about the relationships! Next week we add our congratulations and best wishes to Forrest Alton and Heather Brandt as they celebrate their wedding! It is a great gift to both of them!

See, it is about the relationship!

by Rev. Don Flowers, Past Board Chair for the SC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Purity Ball Movement

The other day, I watched the National Geographic Channel series, TABOO. The episodes was about the rise of Purity Balls across the nation. If you aren't familiar with the concept, it's a formal ball where young ladies make a promise to remain a virgin until marriage. Their father places a promise ring on their finger to be replaced by a wedding ring from their husband. I watched father after father speak from their heart, sharing the hope that their beloved daughter would wait until marriage. A neighbor, who was watching it with me, made a backhanded comment about teen pregnancy. Naturally, I went into work mode and as I snapped back in my Jerry Maguire voice, "Show me the data", Professor Helen Fisher from Rutgers University pops on the screen and says, “research says that young girls who swear off sex, postpone for a short period of time, then impulsively have sex without any sex education.” Needless to say, I had to give my elevator speech on the power of Self-Efficacy. Self-Efficacy is a person's belief in his or her ability to succeed in a particular situation. (Albert Bandura) These young ladies have promised to abstain, but will they be taught the refusal skills and gain the self-efficacy to maintain that promise?
A while back, our CEO made a comment that shifted the way I approach my work. He said, “We must stop addressing teen pregnancy as a moral issue, but as a public health issue.” Personally, I respect the intention behind The Purity Ball Movement. Professionally, I question the impact they actually have on delaying the initiation of sex.

by Meredith Talford, Upstate Technical Assistance Specialist