Teen pregnancy prevention efforts continue in Mississippi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Teen pregnancy prevention efforts continue in Mississippi

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi ranks third in teen pregnancies. New funding opportunities for prevention programs have some organizations taking a different look at how they talk to teens.

Teen pregnancy numbers have been on a steady decline for the last few years in Mississippi. Various groups around the state are having those tough but important sex ed conversations with teens.

"We want young people to consider what the consequences of sex are," said My Brother's Keep Director of the Office of Organizational Development Deja Abdul-Haqq.

My Brother's Keeper was receiving federal funding for teen pregnancy prevention. They thought it was a five-year deal till it was abruptly cut off last summer.

"The monies that we were disconnected from weren't as important as the momentum that was damaged through the process," noted Abdul-Haqq.

The Trump administration published its new pregnancy prevention plan last week and the guidelines for new funding.

"We'll have to include emphasis on sexual risk avoidance and sexual risk reduction which many translate as abstinence but we don't have an option to not do," added Abdul-Haqq.

The organization will interpret that as adding conversations about delaying choices until teens are ready to handle the consequences.

Teen Health Mississippi works with student advocates and educators around the state on improving sex ed in our schools. They'll pass on accessing those new dollars.

"What's being said now is sexual risk avoidance which is just a different way of saying abstinence only," explained Teen Health Mississippi Interim Executive Director Emily Feher. "For us, we won't be applying for that funding because we believe abstinence-only education is harmful."

Many districts have chosen an abstinence-only program but Teen Health Mississippi works with 32 abstinence-plus districts where they can discuss other prevention methods such as birth control, condoms, and STIs.

"We have seen a lot of interest in schools seeing the importance of providing accurate and honest sex education," said Feher.

As a reminder, it was in 2011 that the state changed the law to require all public schools to implement sex education programs, either abstinence-only or abstinence-plus.

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