Teen Pregnancy Rates in Calhoun County
For over a decade, the rate of teen pregnancy in Calhoun County has been higher than that of the state of Michigan. Teen pregnancy primarily affects females between 15 and 19 years of age, though there is also a problem with teen pregnancy in girls under age 15. When a teen has a baby, numerous medical and financial issues arise. Teen mothers are less likely to complete school and are more likely to be single parents. Also, most live a life of poverty. There are numerous medical problems common to adolescent mothers and there can be detrimental effects to the children of young mothers as well. The entire community is affected by the issue of teen pregnancy.
Teen pregnancy not only affects adolescent females. It can also have an affect on you and society. The Brookings Institution highlighted Wyman’s Teen Outreach Program and its value in their 2007 report, Cost Effective Investments in Children. The factors for youth and society includes earnings potential and positive effects on health from finishing high school and not having an early pregnancy. The factors for government includes tax revenue, welfare, and crime. According to the Friedman Foundation: A student who drops out of high school earns about $10,000 less per year ($400,000 over their working lives) and is twice a likely to go to prison. The unemployment rates for high school dropouts is 20.1% as compared to 4.4% for high school graduates. All costs and benefits are shown in 2003 dollars. The benefit-cost analysis does not include the value of volunteer time provided by the participants. The cost to deliver TOP does vary by site based on their use of volunteers and in-kind supports of transportation, food, and meeting space.
Why did the Health Department Select the TOP Program?
The Wyman Teen Outreach Program (TOP) is one of the most highly regarded teen outreach programs in the nation. These endorsements are generally made on the strength of the program’s results, the cost-effectiveness of the approach, and the alignment with proven youth development best practice.
The program began in St. Louis, Missouri in the late 1970s and, prior to Wyman acquiring the program, it was led over the years by the Junior League and Cornerstone Consulting of Houston. Wyman has a long history (110 years) of excellence in youth development in St. Louis. Wyman began implementing TOP as a provider and trainer in 1998. When TOP required new national leadership in 2005, it was a great fit for Wyman. Wyman staff continue to operate TOP clubs for St. Louis teens from disadvantaged backgrounds.
The TOP program is a community approach to promote healthy behaviors and acquire valuable life skills in teens helping them develop a sense of purpose. These fundamental goals are the asset building blocks that adolescents need during this crucial phase of their development. TOP works by connecting youth to positive adult role models, holding high expectations matched with high levels of support, and providing opportunities to make a real difference in their communities.
Annually, the TOP program serves approximately 15,000 teens nationally. TOP does get results! This study was across a wide variety of populations with higher risk youth yielding the greatest dividends from the program. These results were for sites that were honoring the TOP approach and implementing the program with fidelity.
TOP is designed as an "Abstinence Plus" program, providing factual information about adolescent development. The message is that abstinence is the safest and most effective way to avoid disease, infections, and pregnancy. The approach to sexuality can be tailored to meet Calhoun County’s culture and needs. Both the TOP group meetings and the community service components are engaging, educational, and enjoyable to teens. It is when skilled facilitators help teens reflect and apply the learnings from meetings and community services that the power of TOP is realized.
The curriculum is quite flexible. Facilitators can add supplemental content to programs in response to the needs and interests of the teens in the group. The curriculum is divided into developmentally-appropriate units. CCPHD is proposing an after-school program consisting of 30 meetings and 20 hours of community service learning over the course of the nine month program. Programs that get results operate for at least nine months to meet the importance of consistency in the group of teens. These nine months are covered during the school year. Each club of approximately 20 students will have two facilitators.
During the nine month session, the following items are focused on:
- Values Clarification: Teens explore and challenge their own values, the impact of gender roles on values, the values of their family and friends, and the impact of the larger society on their value formation.
- Relationships: Teens examine the dynamics of friendships, family relationships and conflicts, peer pressure, romantic relationships, dating, and violence within relationships.
- Influence: Teens explore and grapple with the various influences on their lives and decisions, including peer pressure and media messages.
- Goal-Setting: Teens practice goal identification, understand short-term versus long-term goals, explore their future options, think about plans for life after high-school, and discuss the potential impact of teen parenting on their future plans.
- Communication/Assertiveness: Teens discuss and apply concepts such as active listening, assertive communication, nonverbal communication, how to say "no" and refuse a request, the use of "I" messages, and how to utilize personal and community resources to meet their needs.
- Decision-Making: Teens examine choices and consequences, practice using decision-making tools, and reflect upon recent decisions they have made.
- Development and Human Sexuality: Teens learn about adolescent development (emotional and physical) and human sexuality from a holistic perspective - abstinence-plus approach. This technique provides information on abstinence as the safest way to not become pregnant/father a child and to remain free of sexually transmitted infections. Information on the reproductive process and contraception is also provided for teens to make informed choices about their sexual activity.
What Schools is TOP in?
In the 2012-2013 school year, Calhoun County TOP clubs are located in various Calhoun County schools. Those schools include:
For more information on TOP, please contact the Health Department at 269-969-6365.