Monday, May 02, 2005
Births to young teenage girls in Cincinnati declined to 191 in 2004, the lowest annual number of teen births recorded since 1988, according to the annual survey of the Postponing Sexual Involvement (PSI) program. There were 228 births to young teenage girls in Cincinnati in 2003.
PSI, a United Way agency, is an abstinence education program of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center aimed at reducing teen parenthood and the spread of sexually transmitted infections. PSI has been tabulating teen birth data since 1988.
The results of the annual PSI survey are being announced in conjunction with National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Day, May 4. Teens are encouraged to visit www.cincinnatichildrens.org/psi or http://www.teenpregnancy.org/ on this day to take a "quiz" that presents several real-life scenarios involving sex and asks them to choose a course of action. The quiz is designed to help teens come up with their own plans for avoiding pregnancy.
The PSI evaluation looks at births in seven hospitals to girls 12 to 16 years old living within Cincinnati Public School district zip codes. The hospitals are University, Good Samaritan, Bethesda North, Christ and Mercy Franciscan Hospital in Mt. Airy and Mercy Hospitals in Fairfield and Anderson. The evaluation included Bethesda Oak before it closed in 2000.
Births to young teens declined 51 percent between 1993 and 2004, from 391 to 191, and 16 percent this just this past year. A direct comparison between local and national births is not available, in part because national statistics look at birth rates while PSI looks at numbers of births. "Young teen births keep going down in the Cincinnati area," says Christopher Kraus, JD, PSI coordinator. "While the PSI program cannot claim credit for this dramatic trend, it would be reasonable to infer that PSI is among the many factors responsible for the decline in births to young teens in our community."
Despite declines in teen births, the United States still has the highest rate of teen births among comparable countries. Despite less reported sexual activity among teens, 34 percent of girls in the United States become pregnant by the age of 20 and, for the first time, teen girls are more likely than teen boys to have had sexual intercourse, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.
Two physicians at Cincinnati Children's brought PSI to Cincinnati, and the program began in the Cincinnati Public Schools in September of 1990, with full implementation for all Cincinnati Public School seventh graders in 1992. Cincinnati Children's also assists PSI school-based programs in Milford and New Miami. PSI involves role playing, in which older teens, known as "teen leaders," provide the instruction. These teen leaders must serve as believable messengers for the proposition that teens can postpone sex and still be normal. In the classroom, middle school age students play out classic confrontations between boys and girls, learning to cope with and resist social and peer pressure to become sexually active at a young age.
Seventy-five teen leaders directed instruction this year to more than 3,100 students. More than 900 teen leaders have instructed 50,000 young teens in Cincinnati since 1990. "The teen leaders are the single most influential factor in this program's success, based on program evaluations," says Kraus. "They give compelling reasons and practical ways to postpone sexual activity."
Cincinnati teen leader Britney Thomas, a sophomore at Dater High School, serves on the national teen advisory board of the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, one of the founding partners of the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. Hughes Center senior Kendra Davis, along with Cincinnati teen leader Darrell Kindell, Hughes class of 2006, will pass on the torch of PSI teen leadership to Britney Thomas and Ceair Baggett a junior at Robert A. Taft / Scarlet Oaks at the 15th annual PSI Teen Leader Banquet on May 12, honoring 75 teen leaders and supporters.
Cincinnati Children's is a 423-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to transforming the way health care is delivered by providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. It ranks third nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.