Sex Education program reduces teen pregnancy rate 75%,
and raises high school graduation rates!
By Jonathon Kennedy
This program was set up specifically for girls whose sisters had a baby before the age of 18, which statistically puts them at risk for teen pregnancy themselves. The pregnancy prevention program, based at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, pays 12 to 18 year old girls one dollar for every day they are not pregnant.
Program participants are given three goals: avoid pregnancy, graduate high school, and enroll in college. Upon completing all three of the goals, the money is deposited into a college savings account. The girls also receive $5 per week for transportation to the program's classes in sexual health and preparation for college. Some students have received over $2,000 toward a college degree.
The program promotes abstinence and discusses the importance of birth control for those who are sexually active. The girls also learn about college by taking trips to different campuses and receiving assistance filling out their college applications. The educational part of the program is conducted on the UNC-Greensboro campus, which further serves to improve familiarity about higher education.
The growing savings account promotes awareness regarding the benefits of long term planning and goal setting. As the bank accounts grow and the girls learn the individual and social benefits of delaying child rearing, financial planning skills and wider cultural/world perspectives are cultivated.
Participants are separated into groups of 12-14 and 15-18.
Of the 125 participants who have stuck with it for more than six months, about half have made it all the way through and half have dropped out. The non-success stories include five percent of the students becoming pregnant, another 5 percent who dropped out of high school, and the others who simply discontinued the program for various reasons. The money saved by those who do not make it through the program is divided up among the remaining girls. Most of those who end up going into higher education attend a college in North Carolina, but the money may be used anywhere.
A control group of girls with similar characteristics was tracked for comparison to those in the program. The girls who did not go through the program were four times more likely to become pregnant as teenagers and half as likely to enroll in college.
College Bound Sisters was founded in its most infant stages almost 20 years ago by Hazel Brown, professor of nursing, and Rebecca Saunders, associate dean of the graduate school.
The curriculum has been presented to the state of North Carolina, and other educators within and outside the United States, but no other colleges are known to have started a similar program.
Operating costs are about $75,000 per year, most of which goes to pay the program manager. [i] A single teen pregnancy can cost taxpayers up to half a million dollars between healthcare and welfare expenses. Teen pregnancies currently cost taxpayers $9.1 billion annually, according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. [ii] [iii]
Source: U.S. Census Bureau – 2007 Annual Social and Economic Supplement