North American Forum on Family Planning 2016 Annual Meeting

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) will hold their 2016 Annual Meeting in conjunction with the North American Forum on Family Planning in Denver, Colorado November 4-8, 2016. They will be working with their colleagues at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Society of Family Planning. For more information on how to register visit: https://www.arhp.org/professional-education/annual-meetings/2016-annual-meeting

CAHC Statement on Structural Racism as a Public Health Issue

The California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC) stands with Black Lives Matter, the Movement for Black Lives, NAACP, Race Forward, Showing Up for Racial Justice, other national leaders, and the California Department of Public Health’s Office of Health Equity in condemning racialized violence, police brutality, and the structural racism underpinning the long-standing epidemic of violence targeted towards people of color in the United States. With the advent of smartphones and social media, the incessant profiling and exclusion of people of color is once again part of the public consciousness. Systemic racism and targeted violence are critical public health issues that affect the wellness, health, and vitality of all communities, not just the communities and individuals literally impacted. Addressing police violence is addressing public health and dis-ease. 

VIRAL: 25 YEARS FROM RODNEY KING. COURTESY BETTI ONO GALLERY AND DARYL WELLS 

VIRAL: 25 YEARS FROM RODNEY KING. COURTESY BETTI ONO GALLERY AND DARYL WELLS 

CAHC is demonstrating solidarity in the following ways:

    1)         We join Nancy Krieger and other Harvard scientists in calling for public health institutions to include deaths from police violence in their reporting efforts. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts and reports deaths from multiple causes in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports, and the increased attention to law-enforcement-related deaths (both of people at the hands of the police, and of police killed in the line of duty) makes clear that one of the many threats to health faced by Americans of all races and ethnicities, but most especially those with darker skin, is law-enforcement-related death. There is no question we need to address this issue. The question, then, is where to begin. Our duty, as public health leaders and practitioners, is to help identify the scope of the problem.

    2)         We applaud the Black Lives Matter movement for developing a robust policy platform; it is the perfect starting point for a visionary discussion of policies that will help us strive towards equity rather than inequity. While we cannot adopt the platform in its entirety, we are committed to advancing public policies that improve economic equity and broaden political power in recognition that these are these are undeniable determinants of public health.

    3)         The CAHC is backed financially by both federal and private funds. As responsible stewards of these resources, we are committed to joining the injustice boycott. CAHC is joining Shaun King and tens of thousands of others in “making a pledge that we will boycott cities, states, businesses, and institutions which are either willfully indifferent to police brutality and racial injustice or are deliberately destructive partners with it,” with one caveat: we will not abandon geographic regions that may be named in the boycott. We are committed to serving certain communities and in that we will not waiver.

Systemic racism is a threat to public health, and it is incumbent upon public health professionals to take the lead on revealing the roots of the threat just as John Snow did with the Broad Street water pump in 1855. Furthermore, we must starve the source of the threat, and history tells us that when violence with impunity is protected by economic power, we must vote with our dollars.

California sprints to the head of the class on sex education, as all students this year will be taught about consent

Posted on August 8, 2016 10:19 am by Kate Stringer

He sexually assaulted an unconscious woman behind a dumpster. But Stanford student Brock Turner received a mere six-month prison sentence for his “20 minutes of action,” because anything longer would have had “a severe impact on him,” the judge in the case decided.

The story, which generated enormous outrage after the young woman’s powerful victim impact statement was widely publicized, happened in California, but it’s certainly not isolated. Dismissals of sexual assault are not uncommon, as universities and courts across the United States make news for failing to take rape seriously.

But California is pioneering a solution, and it’s starting with sex education and the issue that many of these assault cases turn on — consent.

This school year, the state will be the first in the U.S. to require that high schools teach sexual consent — what it is and how it’s established. While some high schools already taught consent, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a law in October 2015 requiring all schools that mandate health courses to do so beginning in the 2016 school year.

“Our dedication to a more comprehensive approach to sex ed — principles that are evidenced based, culturally appropriate, nonjudgemental, the whole thing about establishing parameters about not having sex — is really revolutionary, positively revolutionary, because none of the other states are dealing with those issues,” said Claire Brindis, a pediatrics professor and adolescent health policy researcher at University of California, San Francisco.

California will also join 23 other states in requiring that sex education be taught to 7th- through 12th-grade students. It’s remains a distinction in a nation where many states don’t require that sex education be taught or that it be medically accurate.

California may be late to the mandatory sex ed game, but it required the courses that were taught be medically accurate starting in 2003. The state made national headlines in 2014 for requiring that sexual consent be based on a “yes-means-yes” standard rather than “no-means-no,” meaning sexual partners must verbally agree to sex — a way to address rapes that occur with unconscious victims.

Many urban school systems, like the Los Angeles Unified School District, already had comprehensive sex education as a requirement, but are still spending the summer training teachers to have these sensitive conversations with students, said Tim Kordic, project advisor for health education. Lessons include preventing shaming, LGBT inclusiveness, human trafficking, contraception, HIV/AIDS intervention, and yes-means-yes consent.

“The mantra we use is medically accurate, current, and nonbiased,” Kordic said.

At a time when Congress bumped funding for abstinence-emphasized education to $25 million, California’s efforts are progressive. 

And it’s thanks in part to state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, D-Santa Barbara. She wanted to address what she observed was a “culture of rape” thriving on college campuses. And while she pushed to make consent clearly affirmative, she also recognized that it wasn’t enough.

“If we start this discussion at the college level, we’re starting too late,” Jackson said, adding that “the goal is to prevent sexual assault and to create a culture that is consent- and support-driven.”

After seeing through the consent-based sex education bill last year, Jackson wants to start even earlier. This session, she’s introduced a new piece of legislation that proposes first- through eighth-grade students learn about healthy relationships, interpersonal communication skills, and how to respond to harassment or bullying.

She said she “absolutely” thinks that these progressive sex education bills could change a culture that leads to sexual assault cases like that of Brock Turner, whose arrest and conviction came after after two bicyclists riding by saw him sexually assaulting his unconscious victim behind the fraternity house dumpster and chased him down.

While California has made some great strides in sex education, the courses weren’t mandatory until last year and not all California sex ed was equal. A 2011 University of California San Francisco study surveyed districts statewide and found medical inaccuracies and biases in their instruction. One in five districts reported most of the class was spent teaching abstinence with only a few mentions of birth control. Some taught that condoms did not prevent pregnancies, STDs or HIV, which is inaccurate. One-third of school districts didn’t require that their sex ed teachers be trained.

These misrepresentations led to parents, physicians, and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network filing suit against the Clovis Unified School District in 2012. The district taught abstinence as the only effective method of avoiding pregnancy, depicted women who had premarital sex as dirty, and didn’t teach comprehensive solutions to preventing disease. The court ruled in their favor in 2015, forcing the district to make significant changes so its curriculum would be medically accurate and bias-free.

Schools are important gateways for information about sex, said Brindis, the UCSF professor who was the author of the 2011 study.  

Some parents worry that providing comprehensive sex education will only encourage students to have sex, which is not the case, Brindis said. When parents and schools are squeamish to have honest conversations about sex, students receive all their information from peers, media, porn, and the internet.

“I feel like young people are drowning in very irresponsible messages about protecting oneself,” Brindis said.

The United States has a significantly higher teen pregnancy rate than other industrialized nations, 57 per 1,000 compared to 14 per 1,000 in countries such as the Netherlands, according to the Centers for Disease Control. And that costs taxpayers $9.4 billion per year to provide health and foster care.

Yet states with medically accurate sex education have lower teen birth rates. Mississippi doesn’t require accuracy, and its rate is 42.6 per 1,000 girls: double the national average. New Jersey, which does require medical accuracy, has a birth rate of 14.8 per 1,000 girls.

Brindis is hopeful the new legislation can change the culture of misinformation surrounding sex. But, she said, it will require teachers who can make the education applicable, by role-playing affirmative consent and how to say no, teaching how to access contraception and the consequences of pregnancy.

CAHC Launches 4-Year Healthy Relationships and Economic Pathways Project in the Central Valley

The California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC), is excited to announce the launching of the Healthy Relationships and Economic Pathways (H-REP) project on July 15, 2016.

Coinciding with the passing of the California Healthy Youth Act in October 2015, mandating age-appropriate comprehensive sex education in all California public schools, CAHC is partnering with Central Valley-based organizations to leverage this Act by implementing H-REP at Stanislaus and Merced County public schools.

H-REP, a four-year federally-funded study, prepares high school and opportunity youth (disconnected from school) between the age of 14 to 24, with the knowledge, skills and abilities to build healthy relationships and achieve economic stability. 

After a year of planning, CAHC’s youth-serving Central Valley partners are ready to deliver comprehensive sex education curriculum, technology and soft skills training, career coaching, and case management at their respective site.

The H-REP project seeks to stimulate and encourage sex-positive health education; increase youth access to medically accurate and gender-inclusive information; empower adolescents to build healthy relationship skills and develop economic opportunities that enable adolescents to thrive into adulthood.

H-REP partners include the Alliance for Community Research and Development, Center for Human Services, Ceres Unified School District (Project YES), Empower, Hack the Hood, Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus County, Merced County Office of Education, Riverbank Unified School District, Valley Crisis Center and Waterford Unified School District.

The EMPOWER Program, a Merced-county educational assistance and job training program helping out-of-school youth complete school and transition to college and/or a career, launches H-REP at their site on July 15, 2016.

Project YES (Youth Employment Services), a Ceres County workforce and academic program designed to help economically disadvantaged youth overcome barriers to personal success, will launch August 1, 2016.

To learn more about the Healthy Relationships and Economic Pathways Program, visit: http://www.californiateenhealth.org/

PHI’s California Adolescent Health Collaborative Awarded Multi-Million Dollar Grant to Expand Healthy Relationships Work in California’s Central Valley

March 1, 2016

Central Valley, CA— The California Adolescent Health Collaborative (CAHC), a program of the Public Health Institute, today announced the receipt of a five-year, $7 million grant from the Administration for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The implementation of the grant will focus primarily on equipping rural youth ages 16-24 in Merced and Stanislaus Counties in California’s Central Valley with tools and education to pursue healthy relationships and to open economic pathways for their future.

“Young adults here want and deserve to build positive and healthy relationships with their intimate partners,” said Alison Chopel, CAHC’s Director. “This will help them do that—and ultimately, it will create lasting change for low-income families in the Central Valley.”

The Healthy Marriage and Relationship Education grant will provide healthy relationship education, youth leadership development, job training, case management and support services to youth with the aim of improving the social, economic, and health well-being of Central Valley youth. The new partnership has three main goals: improved healthy relationship and marriage skills and family functioning, progress toward greater economic stability for low-income participants through job trainings, and the successful transition between youth and adulthood.

“For years, CAHC has been working statewide to bring down the barriers to adolescent wellness by bringing everyone to the table—from young people to juvenile justice to local businesses,” said Chopel. “Our experience connecting unlikely partners will help us build a collaborative partnership here in the Valley that will make for a stronger, healthier community.”

The Central Valley is a region characterized by socio-economic disparities. It is one of the richest agricultural regions in the world, yet it has one of the highest concentrations of poverty in the United States. According to census data, 20.3 percent of Stanislaus’ population and 25.4 percent of Merced’s live below the poverty level. Children are the largest group living below the poverty line, at 31 percent and 37.2 percent respectively. 

The implementation process will be monitored and consistently evaluated by the Alliance for Community Research and Development.

CAHC, a program of the Public Health Institute, is a public-private statewide coalition of individuals and organizations that works to increase understanding and support of adolescent health and well-being in California. CAHC provides convenings, trainings, technical assistance and education, resource and data dissemination, and advocacy on policies related to adolescent health. To learn more, visit www.californiateenhealth.org.