Teens are reaching out to their peers through social media to help prevent teen pregnancy in Richmond County.
The Youth Leadership Council for We Are Change, a teen pregnancy prevention program funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is sharing information on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr about reproductive health. The social media campaign kicked off Jan. 18 with an online quiz for teenagers.
“We want them to take a quiz as a way to help them think more seriously about protecting themselves,” said Donna Elliston, the project director for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Power and Potential, the group administering We Are Change.
The quiz tests a teenager’s knowledge base on safe-sex methods, the cost of raising a baby, locations of health clinics and other information, Elliston said. The goal is to link teenagers to clinical services in Richmond County.
In 2010, Elliston’s group received a $7.5 million grant to try to lower Richmond County’s teen pregnancy and teen births by 10 percent in five years.
The teen birth rate for Georgia was 41.4 per 1,000 females ages 15-19 in 2010, according to the CDC.
The grant has helped fund two teen health clinics where teenagers can get confidential help, birth control, abstinence counseling and testing for sexually transmitted diseases.
The Youth Leadership Council has helped lead the initiative since its inception. Teenagers helped design the quiz, test the questions and ensure peers would be receptive to the method, Elliston said.
“It’s the power of social media,” she said. “We are giving teens a chance to reach teens.”
The quiz runs through Feb. 3. Every teen who takes the quiz will be entered into a shopping spree contest.
At the end of the quiz, teens are invited to take a pledge to abstain from sex or practice safe sex.