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Skills for Educators

All Skills for Educators

Meeting the Needs of Diverse Youth

by Barbara W. Sugland

This month's educator skill focuses on developing adolescent reproductive health programs for different cultural groups.

Below you will find four hypothetical scenarios describing different communities facing a particular adolescent reproductive health problem. After you read each scenario, consider what you (or your group) would do to design or enhance a program so that it is culturally relevant for the youth described in the scenario. Below each scenario are some questions to help guide your thinking process.

This exercise is best done with a group of people. Varying perspectives and experiences will bring richness to the discussion and program design. We also recommend that you review the "Racial/Ethnic Disparities & Cultural Competency in Teen Pregnancy, STD & HIV Prevention" presentation before working on this exercise.


Scenario 1

The state health department (State X) is attempting to reach Latino youth in a rural community in the state with a teen pregnancy prevention initiative. This community has high rates of unintended pregnancy, primarily due to low rates of contraceptive use. Families in this community are poor, mostly migrant workers. Youth's involvement in school is inconsistent due to their need to support seasonal employment of their families. Currently, the main prevention effort is through contraceptive and reproductive health services through the local health department.

Guiding Questions — Presentation and Group Discussion

  1. What are the trends in teen pregnancy, teen childbearing, and STD/HIV for the U.S. by race/ethnicity?

  2. What factors contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in teen sexual health? Programmatically, what can we do to address these disparities?

  3. What are some approaches for understanding the cultural values and issues experienced by diverse youth? What are some examples for adapting programs to better meet the cultural needs of diverse youth?

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Scenario 2

You are a community outreach coordinator for a large health care organization in Inner City A. This is a working class community that is racially and ethnically mixed and where adults are interested in reducing the number of teen parents. The health care organization has asked you to develop a program for parents to increase parent/teen communication about sex and pregnancy. There is currently no prevention program, and the hospital does not have a good and honest track record with the community.

Guiding Questions — Presentation and Group Discussion

  1. What are the trends in teen pregnancy, teen childbearing, and STD/HIV for the U.S. by race/ethnicity?

  2. What factors contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in teen sexual health? Programmatically, what can we do to address these disparities?

  3. What are some approaches for understanding the cultural values and issues experienced by diverse youth? What are some examples for adapting programs to better meet the cultural needs of diverse youth?

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Scenario 3

A suburban community has begun to see a rise in the rates of unintended pregnancy and STDs/HIV among teen residents. This is a middle-income, predominantly African-American community, where most youth finish high school and go on to college (either 2-year or 4-year), or get additional employment training. The community has seen a recent loss in jobs due to down sizing of a local employer. The higher rate of pregnancy and STDs has baffled some residents and community leaders; other residents are in denial the community needs help. The community has a strong network of health and community-based organizations that are well respected by community residents, including youth.

Guiding Questions — Presentation and Group Discussion

  1. What are the trends in teen pregnancy, teen childbearing, and STD/HIV for the U.S. by race/ethnicity?

  2. What factors contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in teen sexual health? Programmatically, what can we do to address these disparities?

  3. What are some approaches for understanding the cultural values and issues experienced by diverse youth? What are some examples for adapting programs to better meet the cultural needs of diverse youth?

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Scenario 4

You are the director of an after-school program in a small rural poor community in the south. The program serves mostly elementary and middle-school age students, but it is not running at capacity. This community has very few opportunities for older youth and young adults, employment, education or otherwise. Health care services are provided by a public health nurse and a mobile van that come through the community twice a month. Most teens become parents and end up dropping out of school. The school is a primary source of information and support for community residents.

Guiding Questions — Presentation and Group Discussion

  1. What are the trends in teen pregnancy, teen childbearing, and STD/HIV for the U.S. by race/ethnicity?

  2. What factors contribute to racial/ethnic disparities in teen sexual health? Programmatically, what can we do to address these disparities?

  3. What are some approaches for understanding the cultural values and issues experienced by diverse youth? What are some examples for adapting programs to better meet the cultural needs of diverse youth?

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Barbara W. Sugland, MPH, ScD, Executive Director
Center for Applied Research and Technical Assistance (CARTA):
Baltimore, MD

Dr. Sugland is recognized nationally for her work in the fields of adolescent reproductive health and transition to adulthood with particular emphasis on youth of color. She is particularly well-known for her ability to bridge the gap between research and community-based practice by making scientific information relevant and accessible for providers working with diverse communities.

Dr. Sugland has conducted numerous workshops on cultural competence and has worked directly with providers helping them to understand the significance of culture and implications for their work. She is currently involved in work that explores the cultural significance of parent and family influences on adolescent sexuality for African-American and Latino youth. This work will result in a tool for providers that can be used to develop programs and practices for culturally diverse populations. Prior to founding CARTA, Dr. Sugland was the Area Director for Adolescent Childbearing Research at Child Trends, Inc. For more information about CARTA, visit www.cartainc.org/.