Young Women United (YWU is now Bold Futures) defines “Teen Pregnancy Prevention” as an articulated strategy or campaign designed to keep young people from becoming parents as teenagers, of which the underlying premise is that teen pregnancy is inherently something that needs to be prevented. YWU understands teen pregnancy prevention to be inaccurate and stigmatizing. This report serves to discredit myths regularly perpetuated by the frame and messaging that function as the foundation of teen pregnancy prevention models.
In YWU’s early organizational years, we and many others working on issues of reproductive health and reproductive justice used the language of teen pregnancy prevention within our efforts to highlight community needs and pull vital resources to young people and families in our state. As YWU grew in political power we were able to resource increasingly honest and strength-based approaches to our community organizing, policy initiatives, and culture shift strategies—while intentionally moving away from teen pregnancy prevention.
YWU understands that young people, like people of all ages, need high-quality reproductive health information and access to services—just not on the premise of preventing teen pregnancy. Naming that teen pregnancy prevention approaches are built upon misleading and biased research, YWU understands that by unfairly depicting young parents in a negative way these shame-based approaches are ineffective, and actually fuel discrimination of young parents causing harm to their families. Young people, including young parents, need accurate information and basic respect — so that they may have what they need to be who they are, and to thrive.