MOAPPP Monitor
Summer 2000

Articles in this issue of the MOAPPP Monitor:

Teen Pregnancy, Birth Rates in MN Drop Again

Hispanic Teen Pregnancy on the Rise

Teen Voices

Reducing Negative Outcomes for Youth

News & Notes

Teen Pregnancy, Birth Rates in MN Drop Again

There’s good news!

The pregnancy and birth rates for Minnesota teenagers are still on the decline.

In fact, the pregnancy rate for girls aged 15-19 in Minnesota declined five percent in 1998 to 43.8 pregnancies per 1,000 woman. And, the birth rate for teens aged 15-19 dropped three percent over 1997 rates to 31.0 births per 1,000 teen girls, according to data from the Center for Health Statistics at the MN Department of Health.

These figures represent the latest in a ten-year trend in declining teen pregnancy and birth rates in MN. The teen pregnancy rate in MN has decreased by 26 percent since its peak in 1990; the teen birth rate declined 15 percent during that same period.

This trend in Minnesota reflects the national trend in decreasing teen pregnancy and birth rates.

In 1998, the US teen birth rate was 51.1 births per 1,000 women aged 15-19, an 18 percent drop since 1991. The US teen pregnancy rate has dropped 15 percent since 1991, according to data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Looking at recent research and survey data, it’s clear that the lower teen pregnancy and birth rates show that more and more of Minnesota teenagers are taking control of their lives. They’re focusing on their futures, having sex less and using contraception more often when they do have sex.

According to the 1999 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) report, released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which was released on June 9, 2000, the number of high school students reporting they have had sex has decreased 7 percent since 1991. And the number of teens using a condom during their last sex has increased 21 percent since 1991. (For a copy of the report, go to

There’s also a new report from the Urban Institute that found that in the past decade, there’s been a decline in teen risk-taking behaviors, except among Hispanic teens. Ninety-two percent of the teens surveyed were found to participate in positive behaviors such as spending time in school sports or clubs and earning good grades. For a copy of the report, go to the Urban Institute’s webpage, See also the related articles on pages 3 and 5 of this issue of the MOAPPP Monitor.

While it’s critical that we celebrate the overall drop in pregnancy and birth rates, now is not the time to let down our guard or to back off our teen pregnancy prevention initiatives.

The absolute number of pregnancies and babies born to teenagers is increasing as the total teen population increases. In 1998, 7,892 teenage girls become pregnant and 5,597 gave birth – 300 more pregnancies and 267 more births than five years previously in 1994.

And, Minnesota continues to lead the nation in teen pregnancy and birth rates in our communities of color.

By continuing to support local programs and enlist new partners in our state and local pregnancy prevention efforts we can renew our commitment to making sure our teenagers are empowered to make responsible decisions and that babies are born to adult parents who are ready to care for them.

What can you do?

Use this information to raise awareness in your area about teen pregnancy issues. The MOAPPP InfoExchange has pregnancy and birth statistics by county. For a copy of your area’s statistics, call the InfoExchange, 651-644-1447. The full reports will be available on the MOAPPP website,, in downloadable format later this summer.

Support your local teen pregnancy prevention program. Or, if there is a gap in this type of service for youth in your area, start one. Call or e-mail for a copy of MOAPPP’s new community organizing guide, Get Started!

Join MOAPPP. A MOAPPP membership helps support our work on behalf of teens throughout Minnesota. Through MOAPPP, you can get involved in policy, public education or training projects. And now, you can join MOAPPP online at

Little Mothers: one out of every ten good girls…
By Claudia Fuentes, The Urban Coalition

Carrying her cherubic child, Luis, Eloisa walks briskly to a friend’s home. At age 16, Eloisa (not her real name) looks like any other adolescent. With her jeans and Nike shoes, she has the same tastes as her peers. She also enjoys shopping with her friends for baby clothes, because that is another thing she shares with them — the responsibility of a young child.

One-fifth of Latina adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 will get pregnant this year in the United States. And although the teen pregnancy and birthrates have fallen for African-American and white teens, the birthrates of Latina teens provide frightening statistics.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, nationally, the birthrate for Hispanic teens ages 15 to 19 is 2.7 times higher than the birthrate for white teens. Between 1995 and 1997, the birth rate of Latina teens in Minnesota rose 23 percent, although nationally all teen birthrates have fallen.

In all age categories, Minnesota has the third-highest Latina teen birth rate in the nation. In Minnesota, the birth rate for Hispanic teens ages 15 to 19 is more than four times that of the overall teen birth rate and nearly six times higher than the birth rate for white teenagers.

Public health officials list many causes for the high Latina teen birthrate. For instance, statistics show that a rising middle class coincides with a reduction in teen birth rates. This reality is reflected in the statistics of birth rates of subgroups of Latinos. Cuban-American teens, who mainly come from economically stable families, have the lowest teen birthrates (2.8 percent). Puerto Rican teens, coming from families with less economic stability, have the highest rates of teen births, at 10.8 percent.

The lack of access to medical insurance, combined with language and cultural differences and residency status, are other barriers for low-income Latino families. More than any other group in Minnesota, Latinos have the lowest rates of medical insurance coverage — 30 percent of the Latinos who live in Minnesota have no medical insurance, according to Public Health and Health Care Access: Minnesota’s Latino Community, an October 1999 report prepared in part by the University of Minnesota and HACER. The scarcity of insurance means Latino teens may not obtain information about reproductive health and contraceptives nor seek guidance on how to deflect peer pressure.

A profound social problem is that many low-income teens don’t have grand aspirations for their adulthood. If an adolescent had a career focus or post-secondary goal, the likelihood is greater that they would avoid anything that would interfere with their plans, including pregnancy.

The Latina teen birth rate, in all its dimensions, shouldn't be seen as an ethnic crisis. Overall, the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the industrialized world, nine times higher than in the Netherlands (Guttmacher Institute). The solution to the teen pregnancy problem as it relates to the Latino community can be found at many levels of society -- public health organizations, churches and families in particular.

According to Laine Renfro Sedillo, executive director of the New Mexico Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition, the problem of high Latina birth rates has everything to do with a health system that hasn't confronted the multiple aspects of poverty or made efforts to reduce Latina teen birthrates.

The faith community and spiritual leaders may also have a role in the solution. It shouldn't be assumed that parents provide their children with accurate sex education, including the consequences of unprotected sex. Religious leaders can contribute to the public dialogue by acknowledging that high teen birth rates are a problem and that it deserves everyone’s attention.

Because parents can’t teach what they don’t know, one approach is to target parents whose children aren't yet teens with appropriate teen pregnancy prevention education. Often, parents don't have the skills to talk with their kids about unplanned pregnancy and other hazards of sex. It is obvious that parents need to connect with their children about this topic in a loving and understanding way before a crisis occurs.

Contact MOAPPP at 651-644-1447 or 800-657-3697 for Spanish language resources for parents, teens and professionals.

Teen Voices

In April, MOAPPP helped kick-off the African American Teen Pregnancy Prevention Collaborative’s public education efforts at a highly successful community rally.

At the rally, one of MOAPPP’s Teen Advisory Panel members, Shawntel Fonville, stole the show with a poem she wrote just for the event:

Young blood

Your first day of passion was your last day of fun, pissy drunk off of hennesy
and your life began to spin, or past tense spun. Took you through the valley of shadow and death, now please, grasp, your next breath…

He loves me, he loves me not
he was made of cheap talk when I told him I was sick
and he drove me to the gas station, and bought me cough drops.
I was sicker than that.

I’m 13 in the 7th grade, sexually active, do I have AIDS?
Two months of conception,
and my parents? ain’t no telling,
the truth at least what am I going to say?
I ate 100 bags of snickers & bottles of pop, and 2 cakes?
Is that something that they’re going to believe,
looking like a pumpkin without the seeds, this just can’t be.

I ask myself will I successfully succeed giving birth at a young age dependently?
never graduate from high school with a diploma, but a G.E.D.
only be qualified for penny jobs like white castle and burger king,
never consider, head of secretary or manager trainee,

so at 13 giving young blood to babies is what I disagree, desperately,
we don’t need.

Shawntel Fonville

Shawntel is a senior at Central High School in St. Paul. She was active in MOAPPP’s Teen Advisory Panel, which developed the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Month poster, and is now an summer intern for MOAPPP.

Promising News about Reducing Negative Outcomes for Adolescents
By Michael D. Resnick, Ph.D.
Director, National Teen Pregnancy Prevention Research Center

It was a first time event in US history: on May 2, 2000 the White House hosted a conference on adolescent health.

The First Lady keenly observed in her opening comments that " of the greatest casualties of modern life is family time."

Members of the Cabinet facilitated breakout panels. I was assigned to the panel facilitated by Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalayla, with four minutes to synthesize the research on risk and protective factors in the lives of youth. And the message to the adolescent health panel was this: We know a great deal about recurring, robust protective factors that apply across groups of young people. Cross-cutting the categories we use to describe human beings, by gender, ethnicity, race, geographic location, and social class, human beings are fundamentally in need of a strong sense of connection to others.

How does this inform our work in pregnancy prevention and reduction of risky behaviors?

We understand that key protective factors for young people include a strong sense of connection to parents and family - something that is applicable across single and dual parent families, adoptive and foster families, and extended kin networks. Adolescents are involved in less risky behaviors when they have a strong sense of connection to school - indicated by the perception that teachers are caring, teachers are fair, and school is a place where adolescents feel they belong.

Adolescents do better when there is a sense of connection to other adults outside of the family, adults who recognize, value and reward pro-social behavior. Other protective factors reside much more at the individual level: good school performance, a sense of spirituality, emotional health and optimism.

The research also shows us that there are risk factors that are consistently predictive of high-risk behaviors and poor outcomes for young people: persistent poverty and social disorganization, witnessing and experiencing violence, easy access to tobacco, alcohol, illicit substances, and firearms in the home, and having a short personal timeline, that is, the conviction that one is not going to live very long.

Do powerful risk factors mean that adolescents are destined for negative outcomes?

Herein lie the most intriguing revelations of this body of research. We see consistent evidence that protective factors can offset the impact of risk.

In analyses of risk and protective factors for youth violence, conducted by the Prevention Research Center at the University of Minnesota, we have learned that even when young people live in a climate of uncertainty and fear; when there is substance use and violence victimization; these powerful connections to others, along with the experience of success in school, mean that adolescents can be two to five times less likely to engage in violence against others or themselves compared to when these protective factors are not present.

And when there is not a sense of connection to family and parents, encouragingly, other forms of connection, competence, and mastery can still considerably reduce the likelihood of poor outcomes.

These findings lead us to two general conclusions. First, we must vigorously reject the pessimistic pronouncement that 'nothing can be done' to promote and protect the well being of young people, including those living in high risk environments. Secondly, we see great merit in a dual strategy of reducing risk while boosting or enhancing protective factors for which we have solid scientific evidence.

This approach should help us to prioritize among the day to day experiences we provide for our adolescents. The nurturing of competence, confidence, and connectedness, whether we are focused on pregnancy prevention, violence or substance use, are among our most prized building blocks of healthy youth development. And these are the attributes we should seek to nurture in all of our young people, across the groupings of race and class and gender, because youth with a future and a strong sense of possibilities for themselves, are those who will, in the words of Emerson, leave the world a better place whether through the nurturing of a garden, a healthy child, or an improved social condition.

News & Notes

Get Started! Community Organizing Guide Now Available
Interested in organizing a teen pregnancy prevention program in your community?

Then, MOAPPP’s new publication, Get Started! MOAPPP’s Teen Pregnancy Puzzle Community Organizing Guide, is for you. Organized in an easy-read format, Get Started! includes Minnesota-specific details about:

How to conduct a needs assessment
How to find funding
How to use the media to your advantage
How to choose the right program and strategy
How to evaluate your progress

In fewer than 30 pages, Get Started! guides readers step-by-step through the process of developing a community-based teen pregnancy prevention program or project. Based on MOAPPP’s nationally recognized Teen Pregnancy Puzzle©, Get Started! is designed specifically for individuals and organizations that want to "cut to the chase" and Get Started! in preventing teen pregnancy in their communities.

Ready to Get Started!?

Complete the flyer enclosed in this issue of the Monitor and send it, along with a check for $20, including postage, to: MOAPPP, 1619 Dayton Avenue, Suite 111, St. Paul, MN 55104.

10th Anniversary Plans Underway
It’s hard to believe but in June 2001 MOAPPP will celebrate its 10th year. MOAPPP was formed in 1991 as part of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Project of Minnesota. To mark this important anniversary, MOAPPP is planning a breakfast/luncheon series as well as a larger celebration event sometime in the late spring of 2001. If you’d like to get involved in planning our 10th Anniversary activities, call MOAPPP at 651-644-1447. And keep your calendars nearby so you can be sure and participate in all the 10th Anniversary events.

Sex Education for Life – MN Hosting SIECUS
SIECUS is coming! On August 11, MOAPPP and Sex Education for Life – MN will host the Sexuality Information and Education Coalition of the US (SIECUS) for a one-day training on coalition building. This meeting will coincide with MOAPPP’s release of the results of our statewide poll on attitudes toward in-school sexuality education. If you want more information on this meeting, call Emari Dimagiba Lavine in the MOAPPP office.

MOAPPP Welcomes New Staff
MOAPPP is pleased to welcome our new Associate Director, Marnie Wells. Many MOAPPP members know Marnie from her work as Education Director at Pro-Choice Resources. Marnie brings extensive organizing, training and policy skills to the position and MOAPPP is excited to have Marnie joining the staff.

MOAPPP is also fortunate to have hired Angie Cords as our new Office Coordinator. Angie comes to MOAPPP and the Twin Cities from Mankato, where she worked as a Disaster Specialist at the American Red Cross.

New MOAPPP Board of Directors Leadership
The MOAPPP Board of Directors elected new leadership at their June meeting: Robbin Frazier is the new President; David Ellis, Vice President; Grit Youngquist, Secretary; and Lynn Brofman, Treasurer. Additionally, Lisa-Marie Wright will be chairing the Fundraising Committee.

A special congrats to MOAPPP member organization, Pilot City Health Center, for winning a grant from the Academy for Educational Development for the Call to Action Coalition, a community-based effort to address the high rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections in North Minneapolis.

Thanks to…

Laura and Leeann Chin, for hosting MOAPPP’s May 1 fundraising dinner. The evening provided good company, great food and a chance for MOAPPP supporters to reconnect, re-energize and show their support for MOAPPP’s work on behalf of Minnesota youth. Laura Chin is a member of MOAPPP’s Advisory Board.

Advocates for Youth, Washington DC, for their ongoing technical assistance in building MOAPPP’s capacity as an effective statewide coalition.
Briana Franzmeier, MOAPPP’s 1999/2000 Advocacy Intern, for her extra efforts on every project she undertook, from the Teen Advisory Panel, to the Teen Voices poster, to Women and Girls Come to the Capital. And for her sense of humor… Having graduated from St. Thomas, Briana is now working at West Suburban Teen Clinic in Excelsior and will continue to participate in MOAPPP through the Minnesota Sexuality Education Resource Review Panel (MSERRP) and Sex Ed for Life - MN.
KT Craig, who interned with MOAPPP throughout the Spring and who assisted in organizing our 9th Annual Conference.
Michael Brott, MOAPPP’s outgoing Board of Directors President, who skillfully helped to guide MOAPPP through the past two years.