Thursday, September 25, 2008

Report from GCAPP in Atlanta

I'm just getting ready to leave Atlanta, where I was the first keynote speaker at the biannual meeting of GCAPP, the Georgia Campaign To Prevent Teenage Pregnancy. I talked about my new book, "What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know" with an emphasis on the conference theme of reaching out to boys and men.

What I learned in preparing for the speech is that teen men have actually had greater improvements in risk taking behaviors in recent years than teen women, in many areas. They've had a larger decrease in the proportion who have had intercourse in high school, and the average of first intercourse among boys has increased in the past 15 years. They are less likely to drink than teen girls -- although more likely to drop out of school or be the victim of a violent crime. Boys and girls have almost identical rates of being the victims of dating violence.

But, as the panelists after me dramatically pointed out the issues for teen fathers, especially young men of color, continue to be dire. And I heard a terrific presentation about "Men of Strength Clubs" that are challenging the dominant culture's view of masculinity.

As always, it is the Q&A sessions after my talks and the conversations in the hall where I learn the most. One woman asked me if I thought I was perhaps too optimistic. I told her it was an occupational hazard for a minister from a tradition that believes in universal salvation.

But, I am optimistic -- at least about our children and teenagers and the excellent work these 200 service providers are doing for them here in Georgia.

1 comment:

Robin Kuykendall said...

I believe that the justice system's more stringent enforcement of child support laws makes a profound impact on young men's capacity to take procreative risks.

Please keep up the kindly pressure.