Health and Human Development

Penn State program aims to reduce teen pregnancy rates

Spring education workshops will equip teachers and community and health care professionals with the latest knowledge and strategies to help young people develop into sexually literate and healthy adults

University Park, Pa. — The rate of teen pregnancy is rising after a 14-year decline, and so are the societal costs. Nationally, teen childbearing costs taxpayers at least $9.1 billion a year, according to a study published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. In Pennsylvania, nearly $400 million in tax dollars is spent annually for public health care, child welfare and other services for teen mothers, the study concludes. The Pennsylvania Learning Academy for Sexuality Education (PLASE) has been established to combat issues like unintended teen pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmissible diseases by helping young people to develop into sexually literate and healthy adults.

"Adolescent pregnancy is a complex issue. We do know, however, that comprehensive sexuality education that provides young people with accurate information and health-promoting skills decreases the risk of negative outcomes," reports Patricia Barthalow Koch, Penn State professor of biobehavioral health and faculty director of PLASE.

PLASE workshops are designed for Pennsylvania teachers, counselors, health care providers and other professionals who present sexuality education to students, families, clients, patients and others. The academy is based in the Department of Biobehavioral Health in Penn State's College of Health and Human Development and is a collaborative effort with the Pennsylvania Coalition to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

The one-day spring workshops are underwritten, in part, by the Penn State Outreach Thematic Initiative Fund. Workshops will be delivered through Penn State Conferences, a unit of Penn State Outreach, at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel at University Park campus. The workshops, which will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., are:

• Sex and Alcohol: The Double Whammy, Monday, Feb. 23

• Don't Touch that Dial! Sexuality and Media Literacy, Monday, April 13

• Love or Lust? Building Healthy Relationships, Wednesday, May 6

For more information and to register for a workshop, visit online.

PLASE is also sponsoring an annual Teen Pregnancy Prevention Conference at University Park campus. The theme for the 2009 conference is "The Future of Sex Education." The conference will also be held at The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel on May 4 and 5.

Penn State Conferences plans and manages more than 300 programs each year, with enrollments of nearly 45,000. The programs represent the diversity and strength of Penn State's academic colleges and provide opportunities for many individuals — scholars and scientists; business and organization clients; youth, families, pre-college students and seniors; current Penn State students and professionals in health care, education, workforce development and other areas — to learn about the latest scholarship, research and developments in their fields or participate in enriching learning experiences.

For more information, visit online. Penn State Conferences is part of Penn State Outreach, the largest unified outreach organization in American higher education. Penn State Outreach serves more than 5 million people each year, delivering more than 2,000 programs to people in all 67 Pennsylvania counties, all 50 states and 80 countries worldwide.

Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

Last Updated November 18, 2010