Arnita Furgason, M.S.
Education: Bachelor of Science in sociology (August 1998)
Master of Science in regional planning from Kansas State University
McNair Project: Preventing Teen Pregnancy: A Survey of Preventive Programs in Geary County, Kansas (1997)
Mentor: Richard Brede, Ph.D.
When I first decided on the topic of teenage pregnancy, I had a hard time deciding which angle I wanted to pursue, because so many variables interplay in such a complex issue. I examined the day-to-day operations of several pregnancy and parenthood programs on a local level in Geary County, Kansas. I chose this county because of the high rate of teenage pregnancy, community awareness of the problem, and program development. Specifically I interviewed coordinators from Junction City Youth Clinic, Mother and Infant program, Teen Pregnancy Case Management and The Geary County, Ft. Riley Sexual Risk Reduction Project. I used the qualitative method and open-ended questions to conduct my research.
The first program I analyzed was Sexual Risk Reduction Program (SRRP). The SRRP is housed inside Junction City High School. The project mission is to prevent pregnancy by promoting abstinence among adolescents and improving their social health status through long- term changes in health awareness and life style. The SRRP helps to promote abstinence with the aide of a program they developed called Teenagers Actively Promoting Abstinence (TAPA), in which high school students talk to their peers about remaining or becoming abstinent. My findings for this program concluded that this program was ineffective at the junior/senior level of high school for three reasons: 1). The junior/senior level tends to be the time where they lose their virginity and want to get out of the program; 2). It becomes "not cool" to be in the program at junior/senior level, and their peers begin to look at them differently; 3). The program doesn't target the adult males who are impregnating the teenage girls.
The next program I evaluated was the Junction City Youth Clinic (JCYC). JCYC's goal, when dealing with sexual matters, is to educate the teens with factual information. This program was introduced because of the high rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The coordinator wanted to target teens who are sexually active and offer free medical help. This program was the best program of the four because it provided a safe environment where teenagers could get factual information. The coordinator kept everything in confidentiality.
The third program I evaluated was the Mother and Infant Program (MandI). I interviewed the social worker for the program, whose job is to connect teenage girls with the resources for which they are eligible, such as welfare, WIC, and cab vouchers to get the teenage mother to and from her doctor appointments. The social worker also acts as a counselor to the teenage girls on how to tell their parents about the pregnancy and help come up with solutions for problems caused by the pregnancy. This program is good one because its main emphasis is to ensure a healthy and safe pregnancy.
The last program is called Teen Pregnancy Case Management (TPCM). This program is designed to assist teen mothers in developing a support system and receiving supportive services needed to obtain future goals. Out of all of the programs that I evaluated, this was the weakest, because there were no on-site services for the programs that the girls qualified for.
While doing the research I ran across the problem of the absence of the fathers from their children's lives. My data showed that a majority of these men are out of school, and therefore out of the reach of school- based programs. I concluded that programs need to be developed locally and nationally, directed towards males in terms of their sexuality and social responsibility. It is time for these young men to be held accountable for their actions, instead of the of the problem remaining the female's sole responsibility.