Coalition receives grant from US Group to expand focus groups, test sex ed curricula

A grant from the University of North Florida’s US Group will allow the Coalition to expand focus groups on teen sexual behavior and pregnancy and have teens evaluate three sex education curricula.

The Coalition formed a regional Teen Pregnancy Task Force in October 2010 to determine ways to address the high primary and secondary teen pregnancy rates. Teenage mothers and their babies are consistently linked with poor health and socioeconomic outcomes. Daughters of teen mothers are more likely to become teen parents themselves and sons of teen mothers are more likely to be incarcerated.

A total of 7 “Listening Tours” were held as one of the first priorities of the Task Force; 67 teens participated, ranging from ages 13 to 19, split evenly between males and females, from different races and ethnicities and including teens that have never been pregnant, pregnant teens, teen mothers and teens who experienced multiple pregnancies. While there was a wide range of teenagers that participated in the original groups, the Task Force identified additional subgroups of the population that they wanted to receive feedback from, including: affluent teens, additional rural teens, church-going teens and parents of teens.

The Coalition will hold four additional focus groups with the aforementioned audiences in an additional county: Nassau County. The results will be used to develop additional programs and initiatives and target current initiatives to better serve the population. Nassau County was chosen because the community has expressed an interest in tackling the issue of teen pregnancy and because it allows for access to a teens and parents from a wide gamut of backgrounds. The Nassau County Health Department – Healthy Start office will serve a crucial partner in reaching the community and facilitating the activities.

Using TurningPoint technology available through the Nassau County Health Department, the Coalition will also collect quantitative data from the focus group participants. Questions on sexual behavior and direct knowledge of the basics of sex education will be asked of all participants. TurningPoint will allow the participants to anonymously submit responses to interactive questions using a handheld keypad.

Three comprehensive sex education curricula will also be tested with teens from the county. The first curriculum is “4Me”, a three-part program that engages teens, their parents and creates a teen leadership council in an apartment complex environment. Because there is a large faith-based community in Nassau County, the second curriculum will be “Our Whole Lives,” a comprehensive sexuality curriculum developed by the Unitarian Universalist Association and United Church of Christ. The final curriculum will be a clinic-based curriculum because the county health department has a teens-only clinic that has achieved success in providing family planning services to adolescents. The curriculum would be the Safer Sex Intervention, an approach that delivers education to participants individually in a clinic by a female health educator. Using the TurningPoint technology, the teens that participated in the focus groups will be able to anonymously evaluate the three programs, allowing the Coalition to determine the potential interest and effectiveness of implementing the curricula.