This article is made possible by a partnership with the Marion County Commission on Youth. Indy with Kids is proud to support the work of MCCOY and help communicate information that is important for the youth of our community.
Written by Jacie Farris
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Indiana was ranked 17 out of 51 states (including the District of Columbia) on final 2015 teen birth rates among females aged 15- to 19-years-old. According to Power to Decide, there were 5,813 teen births in our state that year.
Sexual health education, teen pregnancies and contraception are often considered hot topics in today’s society. Personal beliefs aside, it is important that caring, informed adults teach youth about healthy decision-making processes and that young mothers and fathers are able to access resources to help them and their children.
Yasmin Cline is the director of Parent Life at Central Indiana Youth for Christ. Her program works with pregnant and parenting teens, both mothers and fathers, between the ages of 12 and 19 to provide support and mentorship. The groups she works with proactively discuss healthy relationships, healthy parenting, honesty, integrity and sex.
“All of those topics play a role in sexual health,” said Cline. “We approach each topic holistically, considering the emotional, physical, societal, generational and spiritual components of health.”
Open dialogue is often a good first step for adults to take with young people, as data suggests that many youth are already sexually active in high school. According to Power to Decide, 41.7 percent of Indiana high school students in 2015 had already had sex.
Through her work, Cline has found that most young parents need a “consistent connection with an adult who cares and listens.”
Cline noted numerous success stories through her program, especially as the youth work through their struggles over time. In one instance, a 14-year-old young woman came to Parent Life expecting a child who would be born with special needs. The young woman was in previous abusive situations, which caused her to struggle with school and family, despite her naturally outgoing personality. Parent Life helped to build a stable support group around this individual to relate to her situation and encourage her along the way. Four years later, this woman now has a healthy child and is enrolled in college classes.
“If we can invest in young parents, we can change future generations,” said Cline. “The survival of our families depends on it!”
Cline said that community members and concerned citizens can help young families “by connecting to nonprofits and ministries that are walking with young families through mentoring and modeling.” In fact, Cline recommended Nurse-Family Partnership and WeCare Plus Indiana as valuable resources.
More information about adolescent pregnancies, as well as a listing of resources, can be found on the Indiana State Department of Health’s website.