Saturday, June 8, 2013

Changing the Picture…

When we think of teen pregnancy, the silhouette of a girl with a low ponytail and a round belly typically flashes through our minds. We get caught up in the idea of an adolescent female struggling through nine months of pregnancy and then raising a child while still a child herself. Maybe we feel bad for her. Maybe we judge her for having had sex in the first place – for not using protection and allowing herself to end up in this situation.  Maybe we relate to her – having been in her shoes ourselves. Whatever our thoughts or feelings, what we most often do NOT take into consideration is the male involved in this pregnancy.

Héctor Sánchez-Flores
We all know that a pregnancy requires both egg and sperm, both a female and male. So why do we tend to ignore our young men when we talk about teen pregnancy? Our males need to learn refusal skills – as do our females. Our males need to learn negotiation skills – as do our females. Our males need to learn how to use a condom correctly – as do our females. Our males need to understand what a healthy relationship looks like – as do our females. When we implement evidence-based programs, we often teach these skills to males and females together. But what if our young men could benefit from outreach and programs that are specifically geared to meet their unique needs? What if our young men are tired of being used as the example of the “predator” in every role play and need someone to talk to them about how to handle pressure from their girlfriend? What if our young men, so many from
Eric Rowles
single- parent families where mom is raising them, need to spend time with a man who has been in their shoes and can relate to what they’re going through – who can teach them that having sex is more than adding a notch to the belt and that becoming a dad is not the only way to leave a legacy?
On Friday of this year’s Summer Institute, we’ll have several opportunities to more closely examine our
Charles Weathers
work with males. We’ll start with the chance to have breakfast with Héctor Sánchez-Flores, Executive Director of the National Compadres Network. Hector’s experience working with males includes addressing issues from rites of passage to gangs to domestic violence and more. He understands that males need a unique approach when we talk about pregnancy prevention. His breakfast will include a focus on community engagement, and we can't forget males are an important part of the community. In He Said/She Said: Perspectives from Youth of Color on Friday morning, Charlotte Galloway and I will compare some of the differences in attitudes between males and females which can help us understand how to better address males themselves. Eric Rowles will facilitate Stand Up, Man Up: Reaching & Teaching Young Men in 2013 to help equip us with
Vince Ford
skills to effectively work with males in today’s generation. Our closing panel will be focused on working with males as we hear from a variety of professionals including Vince Ford, Chief Community Health Services Officer for Palmetto Health; Charles Weathers, Founder and CEO of The Weathers Group; Eric Rowles, President and CEO of Leading to Change; and Héctor Sánchez-Flores of the National Compadres Network. This dynamic group of men will hopefully inspire us and motivate us to rethink how we view teen pregnancy by shifting the image in our minds of that round- belly silhouette to a full-color photo of a guy and girl who are BOTH experiencing a pregnancy and its impact on their lives individually and togethe

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

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