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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Colleges, Contraception, Education, Unplanned Pregnancy
July 27, 2015

The image of Miami, Florida as raging cauldron of sexuality often leaves students confused, trying to live up to the hype, and hopping on the sexuality bandwagon. Oftentimes, this bandwagon does not contain adequate information to make informed decisions about the best contraception practices. Teaching at a college in Miami, there is nothing in the curriculum to address why you should wait to have a baby until after you finish college, but it’s important that students have this knowledge.

Miami Dade College, a state-supported college with seven campuses, three centers, and numerous outreach centers, is the largest institution of higher education in the United States. In 2013, we served about 161,632 students. And with Latino students comprising 68% of its student body, MDC is also a Hispanic Serving Institution.

My experience at MDC has shown me that unplanned pregnancy is a very real issue in the lives of my students, and helping them prevent one could mean the difference between a student completing or needing to drop out.

For these reasons, when I attended a presentation from National Campaign staff member Chelsey Connolly in 2013 at the Community College National Center for Community Engagement conference, I knew this would be the right fit for our college students. When she announced that she was looking to partner with a college, I nearly jumped out of my chair raising my hand.

With the number of students attending MDC spread across various campuses, the idea of bringing this program to our college was daunting, to say the least. At first, we started with the notion of getting The National Campaign’s online lessons into our First Year Experience curriculum, but the lessons became so popular, it captured the attention from other disciplines, such as biology, reading courses, world languages, and sociology. Even the librarians got involved.

And we’ve seen great changes already. In an evaluation of the online lessons, MDC students’ knowledge improved from 57% on the pre-survey to 86% on the post-survey. For those of us who have been out of school for a while, that translates from an F to a B.

Although the material in the lessons was the same for all the students, the group discussions after they completed them took very different turns. The sociology courses used the opportunity to discuss the sociological implications of an unplanned pregnancy for 20-something year-olds, while the biology course discussed the hormonal and barrier methods of contraception. These discussions revealed that while this topic is still very much taboo, students appreciated the opportunity to talk about a very sensitive subject in an educational setting. I hope to see this conversation continue.

It took a lot of strategic planning and partnerships to scale this from an idea to a tangible project. Enthusiastic professors were identified from the psychology discipline, or as I like to call our team "The fab-five," in order to lead this initiative at their respective campuses. I would like to take the opportunity to thank these wonderful colleagues who helped me lead this project: Vellisse Grimes, Arlen Garcia, Trinidad Arguelles, and Miriam Frances-Abety. Another department that helped in the strategic plan was iCED, Institute for Civic Engagement and Democracy. The Director, Josh Young, and his superhero team of directors and staff helped to coordinate the workshops and to get the word out to all eight campuses.

My hope is that this project will change the way students think about contraception, family planning and college completion. For any faculty considering bringing the lessons to their college campus, I can testify that this is a win-win for everyone. 

Jessyca Perez is a native of Miami. She graduated with honors and attained a Master's in Guidance and Counseling degree and post-graduate certificate in Family Therapy from St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens. She is also an alumnus of MDC and FIU. Perez teaches Psychology and SLS at the Homestead Campus and has been working at the college since 2006. She is a strong supporter of Service-Learning across the curriculum and she co-coordinates with her colleague, Professor Yanely Cordero, a multi-disciplinary literacy project named Pages For All Ages. She is also the lead faculty college-wide for The National Campaign and works closely with faculty, staff and administration on comprehensive family planning education for college students.

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Couple Hugging in Bed
July 22, 2015
Authored by: Jessica Sheets Pika

Jessica Sheets Pika is the Director of Communications at The National Campaign. In that capacity, Jessica is the community manager and content strategist for The National Campaign’s award winning websites, (the Campaign’s corporate website) and (the Campaign’s teen website). She curates and writes content, manages consultants and content contributors, handles both sites’ social media presences, and develops new activities and content areas for both sites. In addition, Jessica handles press initiatives, spearheads the design and creation of new National Campaign materials, and provides general communications and editorial guidance to all program areas of the Campaign.

Jessica joined The National Campaign in 2006 and has nearly 15 years of experience in the non-profit health care world. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Political Science from Wake Forest University and lives in Northern Virginia with her husband, her adorable son, and their dog, Cora.

New data released today by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) include the following juicy nuggets:In 2011–2013, 44% of female teenagers and 47% of male teenagers aged 15–19 have had sex; the percentage has declined significantly, by 14% for female and 22% for male teenagers, over the...
Contraception, Teen Pregnancy, Teens
July 21, 2015
Authored by: Kelleen Kaye

Kelleen Kaye is the Senior Director of Research at The National Campaign. Before joining The National Campaign, she spent 12 years as senior analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation, where she developed and oversaw studies on a wide variety of issues related to family formation, poverty and public assistance. She also has worked for the National Opinion Research Center, the New America Foundation, the U.S. Department of Labor, the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. She has served on several advisory committees including the Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics and the Interagency Working Group for the National Survey of Family Growth. She has received the Vice President’s Hammer Award for her work on the Fatherhood Initiative and the Secretary’s Distinguished Service Award for data analyses related to Hurricane Katrina.

Kelleen received a Bachelor of Science degree in economics and mathematics from the University of Wisconsin and a Masters degree in Public Policy from the University of Michigan.

The evidence continues to pour in regarding positive results from the Colorado Family Planning Initiative, a program that helped increase access to the most effective forms of contraception (long acting reversible contraception, or LARC).  I could focus on the unfortunate fact that funding for this...
Contraception, Public Policy, State and Local, Teen Pregnancy, Teens, Unplanned Pregnancy
July 16, 2015
Authored by: Kate Meroski

Kate is the Manager of Communications at The National Campaign. She is responsible for managing the Campaign’s youth initiative work, including the National Youth Leadership Team and the DC (District of Columbia) Teen Advisory Board. She creates content and is the Campaign’s internal graphic designer.  Kate also manages content on the Campaign’s teen and corporate web properties ( and and social media accounts.  She plans Campaign events and coordinates external communications including press releases and the weekly newsletter, the Campaign EGRAM.

Kate holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from The George Washington University. 

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