Teen pregnancy, once a declining problem, is once again on the rise, particularly in minority communities. To combat the trend, one Massachusetts nurse started a program aimed at educating students and parents about teen pregnancy before it occurs. Anh Lewin, B.S.N., R.N., who works for Pediatrics West, started The Smart Sex Program for Teens in 2008 with a $5,000 grant from Fallon Community Health Plan, an insurance and health care provider. The program is held for two hours over a two-week period while a separate session for parents, called “Let’s Talk,” is a two and a half hour, one-time program.
Located in Groton and Westford, Massachusetts, Pediatrics West provides health care to some schools in those towns as well as in Chelmsford, Lawrence, Pepperell, and Tyngsborough. Lewin also has offered the program in nearby Lowell, which is the fourth-largest city in Massachusetts and has the highest percentage of native Cambodians of any place in the United States. Lawrence, meanwhile, is known as the “Immigrant City” and has always been a multi-ethnic and multicultural gateway with a high percentage of foreign-born residents, according to the city’s website.
The Smart Sex Program for Teens is free. It includes instruction on communication, the reproductive system, puberty, sexually transmitted diseases, protection, abstinence, and relationships.
For the parent workshop, there is a modest fee. “For the parents, we teach them all the facts. Now we want you to teach your kids how you feel about the situation,” Lewin says. “We ask, them, ‘What is your opinion?’ You have to give kids your values. We do not do that. We spend four to five hours with them. You have your entire life with your child. It is not one talk; it is multiple talks. It is talks that should start when they are really young, so you are always comfortable talking about it.”
To learn more, visit the Pediatrics West educational programs website (www.pediatricswest.com/education.htm).