Worried pregnant teenager.

Serving Others Lowers Teen Pregnancy Risks

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In other blogs we’ve discussed how Jesus himself directed us to serve other people (Matthew 25:31-35). We’ve shared how service brings specific benefits to very young children, high schoolers, and even at-risk students attending alternative schools. Worried pregnant teenager.

But what about high-risk behaviors? Can engaging in service activities prevent problem behaviors among young people? Yes!

Teen pregnancy is a problem with which many parents, educators, and even governmental agencies have struggled. Research shows that service learning programs among young people can reduce adolescent pregnancy rates. This report defines service learning as voluntary community service (i.e. working as a teacher’s aide, volunteering in retirement or nursing homes, helping in daycare centers or fixing parks/recreation areas). It also includes structured time for preparation and reflection before, during and after the activity.

Other research confirms these findings. A program called Learn and Serve was evaluated throughout the United States and found that students spent an average of 77 hours providing various community services. Pregnancy rates among participants during their year of service were lower than among non-participating peers.

So there you go. Engaging kids in active service actually brings specific benefits by reducing their risk of teen pregnancy.

There are three important steps to these service activities.

  1. Talk to the kids about what you are going to do. 
  2. Go with the kids to perform the service. 
  3. Reflect on what you did. Talk about your service activities right away.

Don’t forget this prayer: “Lord, open my eyes to identify opportunities to serve other people.”

Author

Gary L. Hopkins, MD, DrPH, MPH is currently an associate research professor at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan where he is also associate director of the Institute for Prevention of Addictions, Director of the Center for Prevention Research and Director of the Center for Media Impact Research.