How Latino communities can fight high dropout rates – through teen pregnancy prevention
Less than 2 percent of teens who have a baby before 18 will have a college degree by age 30. A new report out today shows how this happens – it found the top 25 persistently low-achieving school districts also account for 16 percent of the nation’s teen births. This is sobering, since about half of Latinas will become pregnant by age 20, and they are a large part of the country’s future workforce.
But here’s the good news. Several communities across the country – some in Latino neighborhoods – have come up with effective programs which connect sex education to educational achievement,and are producing good outcomes, according to the new report by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and America’s Promise Alliance.
“Successful programs have known how to combine a community’s public health resources with the district schools, and have provided great tools for teens, parents and educators,” says Ann Marie Benítez, Senior Manager of the National Campaign’s Latino Initiative. “All these resources have to go hand in hand,” she adds.
One such program is “Changing the Odds Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program,” in the Bronx, New York. Its director, Estelle Raboni, is a Dominican-American public health specialist who places “facilitators who look and talk like the kids” in 9 high schools and three middle schools. The teens attend sessions twice a week during the entire school year, and Raboni says this is crucial. “We help these children with the most important lesson – life skills. It takes time.” Many teens tend to think short-term, Raboni explains, and do not see the link between risky sexual behavior, skipping school here and there, and a diminished economic future for themselves and their children if they get pregnant and drop out of school. The teens also do community service, “where they realize their behavior can have positive outcomes.”
Read the full story at NBC Latino