Teen Pregnancy at Casey Middle School

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Teen Pregnancy

Background: In 2009, an 8th grade girl at Casey Middle School became pregnant.  At the age of 14, she gave birth, and she decided to keep her baby.   Her experience led teen journalists at Casey to ask me to help them produce a series of radio programs about Teen Pregnancy.  KGNU broadcast their finished pieces in May 2010, starting with short features running daily in the mornings, then culminating with a call-in show on Thursday, May 13th, where the middle school journalists, themselves, were the call-in show hosts.

Boulder Weekly reporter David Accomazzo described the impact of the shows like this:
“A perfect example of the invaluable contributions community radio stations make came on the radio as I drove to work last week. It was a feature interviewing the mothers enrolled in the teen pregnancy program at Fairview High School, and it was one of the most honest, revealing and jarring looks at teenage mothers that I ever heard. And the reporters putting together the program were eighth grade students enrolled in a journalism class at Casey Middle School, a school that gets slapped around in the media from time to time for perennially underachieving on standardized test scores.

“Where else are you going to empower and train eighth grade girls to be journalists and talk to their peers about this issue?” asks KGNU’s executive director Sam Fuqua. “It was revealing. … That’s what adults need to be hearing as we consider how we deal with teens getting pregnant.”

Dear Shelley . . . You taught the kids so much and gave them a terrific opportunity. Your patience, was a model for me. Thanks again!”  Casey  Middle School Psychologist, Carla Friedli

This ‘Teen Parent’ series was very powerful. The combination of interviews with teens and service providers was well-balanced. The teen reporters did a great job!Maela Moore, Boulder Valley School District Communications Manager, who posted the series to the BVSD website.

Thanks to Casey Middle School journalism teacher Lee Lazar, school psychologist Carla Friedli, and to these Casey Middle School Journalists:

Nayelly Felix, Yaire Guttierrez, Alix Tearney, Natalie Platt, Mayra Robles

Groups Featured in this report include:

Boulder Youth Risk Behavior Survey Teen Clinic, 303-442-5160,   Boulder Valley Teen Parenting Program, (303) 447-5346 x. 1,   Genesister for Sisters of Parenting Teens, 303.413.7512,   Genesis for Pregnant & Parenting Teens

This program was made possible in part through a grant from the City of Boulder Youth Opportunities Board, which provided funding for radio equipment and for some of the training for this special project of the Casey journalism program.

MORE BACKGROUND . . .  Time spent producing the work

I spent over 6 months and over 200 hours producing the teen pregnancy radio series.  In addition to class time, Casey Journalism teacher Lee Lazar and Casey school psychologist Carla Friedli devoted over 40 hours to assisting.  Each teen put in months and dozens of hours.

Particular reporting challenges or other special circumstances
The five middle school reporters were 13- and 14-year old girls.  Two are the daughters of college-educated parents; three are the daughters of Mexican immigrant parents, some without a high school education.  One girl’s sister is a teen mom.  As part of empowering these young journalists, we adults followed their cues in story production, despite the extra challenge and time this required.  For instance, the middle schoolers wanted all the stories in their voices alone, with the exception of adults they chose to interview.  They chose music for the programs and approved all edits.  We adults assisted by finding teen moms and parenting experts to interview.  I trained the 8th graders in interview, narration and call-in skills, including writing scripts (click here for the scripts) for them to review and then organizing practice sessions for them as call-in hosts and interviewers.  The girls sometimes rebelled against the emotional intensity of their project, and the hard work.   In the end, they came through, and KGNU broadcast their promo, four short features, and live call-in show.

Impact from the work or notable public response
While these programs garnered strong listener response, an even more important impact is this:  The 8th grade journalists who teamed up to do this series now have the experience needed to make more informed choices and to be leaders among their peers about teen sexuality and parenthood.  The teen moms they interviewed received public validation for their often ostracized lives, plus the experience of “mentoring” the younger teens.  These are big reasons to work with young journalists on the issues that matter to them.

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