At a recent meeting I attended participants were asked to share something that made us hopeful about our work in adolescent sexual health. My response was that the integration of youth development principles with sexual health programming is providing powerful opportunities for caring adults to step up and make sure young people have what they need to “take charge of their sexual health.” This is the core of the Annex’s new mission statement. A Star Tribune article released last week highlights these changes.
When asked to explain the dramatic reductions in unintended teen pregnancies over the past decade my first response is always that young people are increasingly making great decisions. I think it is critical that young people get credit for this. For too long adults have assumed that teens can’t be trusted with honest and accurate information about sexual health.
Other factors that explain the dramatic drop in unintended pregnancies include an increase in the number of caring adults who are making sure young people have the information and access to services they need. Adults have done a good job of expanding access to evidence based sexuality education as well as accessible reproductive health services for young people. All of these things have contributed to the tremendous progress we’ve achieved.
I’m encouraged about our prospects for additional progress over the next few years. The integration of evidence based sexual health programming and youth development principles provides the tools we need to make sure every young person has the support and resources they need to make great decisions. Now let’s make sure adults hold up their end of the bargain and continue to make this programming available and accessible!