Peer Challenge is a teen risk avoidance education program which emphasizes sexual risk avoidance. We serve over 4,000 students in the three counties of Cape May, Atlantic, and Cumberland counties in Southern New Jersey. Peer Challenge uses a multi faceted approach to effect change in teen lives and their communities.
Program components include:
•Peer Challengers Clubs
•Teacher in Service
•Positive Youth Development Programs
•Vulnerable Youth Outreach
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Abortion often appears to be a quick solution to an unplanned pregnancy for many teens. In fact, about 1/3 of the million teens who become pregnant annually will choose this option. In New Jersey the number of pregnant teens choosing abortion rises to over ½. Although abortion seems to temporarily erase the problem, it often leaves emotional and physical scars in its wake. Psychologists have given the term, Post Abortion Syndrome, PAS, to the wide range of emotional symptoms which include guilt, depression, anxiety, shame, and nightmares which often follows the decision to abort. PAS can often take up to 10 years to surface and may require counseling for healing. Most relationships break up after an abortion. Physical complications can follow an abortion. The cervix (mouth of the uterus) must be forced opened with a series of rods. This procedure greatly increases the chances of future miscarriages, premature births, placenta previa, and ectopic or tubal pregnancies. Scarring following post abortion infections leaves about 5-10 percent of the patients sterile and unable to carry a future pregnancy to term. A disturbing finding has now linked breast cancer to abortion. A pregnancy produces hormones which alter the size and structure of the breasts enabling them to produce milk. The sudden hormonal changes following an abortion halt this process leaving the breasts vulnerable to cancer. Studies indicate that when a first pregnancy ends in abortion the chances of developing breast cancer increases by 50%. Breast cancer has become the leading cause of death among women between the ages of 40-59, killing 40,800 women annually in the U.S.
Single Parenting is the most common option for girls who choose to carry their pregnancies to term. It seems like a good way to rectify a wrong, avoid peer rejection, and satisfy their need for love. However, this difficult decision often robs them of their teenage years. 8 out of 10 teen mothers never finish high school and are likely to go on the welfare rolls. Children raised in single parent homes are more likely to become involved in premarital sex, substance abuse, drop out of school, and become incarcerated.
Hasty Marriage is an avenue attempted by some teens to provide their child with a home and parents. Unfortunately, 90% of these marriages end in divorce. Marriage demands a level of maturity and unselfishness that teens are usually unable to provide.
Adoption is a loving, responsible choice that 20 years ago was the most popular option of unwed mothers. Today fewer than 2% of pregnant teens choose this route because of legalized abortion and the lack of stigma attached to out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Open adoptions allow birth mother to participate in the selection of the adoptive parents and receive pictures and letters from their child.
Rejection: Teens are often forced into becoming involved in sex because they want to be accepted by their peers or they want to avoid being rejected by a boyfriend or girlfriend. However, since the average high school romance lasts only 2 months, they often end up giving away their most intimate gift for a short romance and creating the ultimate feeling of rejection when they break up.
Loss of Reputation still occurs even though the media portrays casual sex in a favorable light. Boys still talk about their sexual conquests real or exaggerated and girls still suffer more from damaged reputations. The capabilities of cell phones and the internet now permit the quick and extensive destruction of a person’s integrity.
Depression always results from the guilt and disappointment, the fear and worry, and feelings of betrayal and anger that comes from being burnt after having sex. Studies indicate that girls who have premarital sex are 6 times more likely to attempt suicide and guys are more likely to succeed.
Broken Hearts are the result of the death of a romantic relationship and when sex is involved the hurt is much more severe produces feelings similar to the grief process that someone goes through in the death of a loved one. It feels like their hearts have been torn apart and reduces their ability to trust and love.
Family problems are often the result of premarital sex since it produces parental disapproval at the time in a teens’ life when they desperately need their parents advice and support. It also has a detrimental effect on future marriage decisions creating a greater possibility for adultery and divorce. It often fools people into marrying the wrong person as the strong emotional bonds of sex causes them to think that the relationship is stronger than it really is.
Low self-esteem occurs when someone gives themselves totally to someone and then gets dumped. Furthermore, self-esteem comes from setting goals and accomplishing them, not from the lack of self-control and the failure to set aside immediate gratification in order to achieve future goals.