Roughly one in four teen girls become pregnant at least once by age 20 and fully half of all pregnancies in the United States are reported by women themselves as unplanned. Not too good.

By posting some intemperate thoughts about sex, love, relationships, pregnancy, childbearing, the media, public policy, our dogs, and other topics, we hope to spark a two-way discussion about how best to bring down the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in this country. And who knows…from time to time, we might even offer up a few cogent thoughts that will be helpful.

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20-Somethings, Bedsider, Colleges, Contraception, Education, Unplanned Pregnancy
March 26, 2015

An unplanned pregnancy can make it more difficult for students to stay in and complete college: 61% of women who have children after enrolling in community college do not finish their education, which is 65% higher than for women who did not have children after enrolling.

At the same time, we have found that not many colleges provide students with information to help their students postpone having children (or additional children) until after they have reached their educational goals. While it’s easy to assume that college students already know everything they need to about how to prevent unplanned pregnancy (I mean, these are adults, right?), it turns out that many young people harbor myths, misinformation, and magical thinking about sex, contraception, and pregnancy that puts them at risk for unplanned pregnancy.

Therefore, The National Campaign published three online lessons, Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy and Completing College. College faculty and staff can use the online lessons in a variety of settings on their campuses. Because the lessons can be completed as a homework assignment, instructors don’t need to become experts in sex and birth control or devote valuable class time to the topic. Also, I should mention that the online lessons are FREE!

The lessons are designed to help students understand the impact an unplanned pregnancy can have on their educational goals, their social lives, their significant relationships, and their finances. Students who participate in the online lessons learn about various birth control methods; select the most appropriate methods for their values, lifestyles, and relationships; and create a plan to decrease their chances of unplanned pregnancy. Most of the information about birth control comes from The National Campaign’s Bedsider website. The lessons take various parts of the site—like the Method Explorer, Where to Get It, and the Guy’s Guide—and put them in an educational frame. Similar to the positive feedback we get about Bedsider, students reported that they enjoyed taking the online lessons and found the information useful. One student said, “I thought this was a big reminder of the things that can possibly come crashing my way and I most definitely need to be smarter about my decisions on sex with my partner.”

I’m so pleased to report that we have now released our second edition of the evaluation of the lessons, and the results are just as positive as they were in the previous report. The evaluation was conducted in four semesters with nearly 3,000 students at four colleges—Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Georgia Perimeter College, Miami Dade College (FL), and Palo Alto College (TX)—and has shown that the lessons continue to be effective at improving students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intent when it comes to preventing unplanned pregnancy.

After only about 90 minutes of independent, online learning, both male and female students were significantly more likely to believe that a pregnancy would make it more difficult to complete their educational goals, be knowledgeable about birth control, report using a method of birth control in the previous month, and feel comfortable talking to their doctor about birth control. Furthermore, on the post-lessons survey, eight in 10 students agreed or strongly agreed they are more aware of ways to prevent pregnancy as a result of the lessons, and six in 10 students agreed or strongly agreed that the lessons helped them make a decision about birth control. As for gains in knowledge, before taking the online lessons students responded correctly, on average, to 61% of questions; after the lessons, they responded correctly to 85% of questions. For all the great results, you can download the report here.

Stay tuned for an upcoming Pregnant Pause post by guest blogger Jessyca Perez, assistant professor of psychology and evaluation project director at Miami Dade College, about her experience using the online lessons.

Finally, if you’re interested in using the online lessons, I would be delighted to hear from you. Please feel free to reach out to me at cconnolly@thenc.org or 202.478.8519.

Authored by: Chelsey Connolly

Chelsey Connolly is the Senior Manager of College Initiatives at The National Campaign. She is responsible for fostering relationships with college faculty and administrators and working with them to help students achieve their educational goals by preventing unplanned pregnancy. She also supports the development of materials, such as the online lessons, Preventing Unplanned Pregnancy and Completing College. In December 2012 she co-authored a report published by the American Association of Community Colleges, titled Make It Personal: How Pregnancy Planning and Prevention Help Students Complete College, about its project with the Campaign to incorporate the topic of preventing unplanned pregnancy into academic courses.

Since joining the Campaign in 2007, Chelsey has worked in several departments including State and Local Action, the Latino Initiative, and Public Policy. She also managed a federal grant to give teens information about how to have healthy relationships, through which she helped create the award-winning online games, My Paper Boyfriend and My Paper Girlfriend on StayTeen.org.

Chelsey earned a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and a minor in Marketing at Georgia Southern University. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Brian, and their rescue dog, Sophie.

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Amy Kramer is the Senior Director of Entertainment Media at The National Campaign. She came to the Campaign in 2007 after more than fifteen years as a television news producer and communications consultant.

Amy’s role at the Campaign is to advance the organization’s mission by working with entertainment media executives, writers, producers, and others to help them incorporate teen and unplanned pregnancy prevention messages into the content of their work. She consults and advises on many television programs and websites, writes episode discussion guides for parents and teens in order to help them watch TV together and talk about it afterward, produces Campaign PSAs and other videos for educational and promotional purposes, and works with outside experts on the media goals of the Campaign.

Prior to joining the Campaign, Amy was a producer at ABC, CNN, and CNBC. She began her career at the political Hotline, a daily news wire service covering state and national politics, and then started in television as a political researcher for CBS News. As a communications consultant she worked with corporations and foundations on issues such as drug abuse, education, health care, aging, and employee/employer relations. She has moderated focus groups, written surveys, and provided analysis and direction on public opinion related to these topics. She has also worked as a political campaign press aide and a summer camp waterski instructor. Amy graduated magna cum laude from Lehigh University with degrees in government and journalism. She lives in Maryland with her husband and dog.

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Bill Albert is the Chief Program Officer of The National Campaign. As Chief Program Officer, Bill is responsible for overall program planning and development, and for tracking program progress. In addition, Bill provides oversight to the Campaign’s media outreach and communication strategies, as well as the writing, editing, design, and production of Campaign’s numerous publications and materials. In addition, he oversees the Campaign’s popular, award-winning websites, the National Day to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, the organization’s work with new media, and the Campaign’s marketing efforts.

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Authored by: Jennifer Gootman

Jennifer Appleton Gootman is Project Director of the Birth Control Initiative for The National Campaign, a series of activities designed to rebuild support for and understanding of the important positive role that birth control in the lives of women and men.

Prior to her work for the Campaign, she was Senior Program Officer for the Board on Children, Youth, and Families at The National Academies. In that position she directed a number of studies on topics including adolescent risk behaviour, adolescent health, teen driving, food and beverage marketing to children and youth, youth development programs, and the impact of work on children and youth in low-income families. In 2003 she took leave from the Academies to participate in the Ian Axford Fellowship in Public Policy, where she worked in New Zealand to examine and publish a report on New Zealand’s national youth development strategy and related child and youth policies. She has worked for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the New York City Public Advocate’s Office, and the Constitutional Rights Foundation. Her work has focused on child and family policy for low-income families, including welfare reform, child care, child health, youth development, and teen pregnancy prevention issues.

She received a B.A. in education and fine arts from the University of Southern California and an M.A. in public policy from the New School for Social Research.

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