Teen pregnancy prevention: Issues and answers
OIC of South FL will host community conference at Signature Grand
Malika A. Wright | 8/14/2013, 12:52 p.m.
The statistics are very alarming. One in every four teenagers is infected with a sexually transmitted disease. Miami is no.1 in the nation of new HIV cases and Broward county is no. 2. Florida’s rates of adolescent sexual activity are higher than comparable national rates for high school students.
The statistics are the very reason youth, parents and community stakeholders are encouraged to attend Opportunities Industrialization Center (OIC) of South Florida’s “Use Your Mind, Not Your Body,” Teen Pregnancy Prevention Conference, which will be held on Aug. 24 at 8:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Signature Grand in Davie, Fla. Attendance is free.
Keynote speaker Pastor Paula White will discuss issues such as “Developing Positive Self Images”, “Media & The Adolescent Mind,” “Strategies for Healthy Relationships” and Family Strengthening.”
OIC believes people should attend so that they can become educated and youth can reach their aspirations and goals, according to Robyn McLymont, senior program manager for prevention programs, said.
“We don’t want our youth to become the statistics that we talk about in our programming,” she added.
The event will have several sessions specifically for the youth “to equip them with tools knowledge and skills so they can help themselves because [adults] are not in every place where they are,” Arlene Connelly, Division Director Youth & Family Services, OIC of South Florida.
She added that it just as important for male teens to attend the event as it is female teenagers.
“We talk about the girls when it comes to teen pregnancy, but it’s about our young men[also]. Our young men are a part of the decision making process,” she said.
“They also are often feeling pressured to engage in sexual activity.”
White will also discuss her experiences as a teen mom, having resiliency and the importance of making healthy choices and good decisions.
Many young people are dealing with a lot of trauma and White is coming from a place where she’s had childhood trauma also, but she was resilient and she bounced back, Connelly said. She said it is a critical message for the youth because after engaging in high risks behaviors that may lead to STDs or pregnancy, youth often feel hopeless, which has a great impact on their quality of life.
Connelly said it is important for everyone to come up with solutions for this issue, including those of the faith-based community.
“We are committed and really focused on the fact that there needs to be a collective response to this issue, the church and faith-based community needs to be present in this conversation..
How do can we all come together to make sure we inform them and give them true guidance?”