Teens well-PREP'ed in NH concerning pregnancy
PREP is a federally funded program aimed at preventing teen pregnancy; the acronym stands for Personal Responsibility Education Program.
The state Department of Health and Human Services awards grant funding for PREP in Manchester and in Sullivan County. Both areas have the highest rates of teen births in the state.
Ake said there are still a lot of pervasive myths among teens ("you can't get pregnant the first time"; "having sex standing up - or in the ocean - prevents pregnancy.") "We always ask our girls, 'What have you heard?'" before providing the facts, she said.
The most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey, taken anonymously by high school students every two years, found that the percentage of New Hampshire teens who reported having sexual intercourse has declined in the past two decades.
About 200 girls have participated in PREP sessions in Manchester over the past two years. The biggest challenge is reaching girls who could benefit from the information provided, Ake said. "Once we get the girls here, they stay with us," she said.
"Definitely, boys need to fit into the equation," she said. "I wish the state had included boys in their target populations when the PREP funding became available."
There's also a cultural element, she said. "We've consistently had high teen birth rates for years," she said.
Moryan said the decrease in teen birth rates both here and nationwide is "hugely encouraging, because it means that things are happening, and there is change taking place."
And a third said the most important thing she learned is that "there are a lot more rights and a lot more resources available than most teens know about."
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