• September 2018
  • Vol. 19, No. 7

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Perspectives on Young Parents as Peer Educators

Young parents employed as peer educators in teen pregnancy prevention programs often advance their own professional skillsets while successfully engaging the youth, according to a recent research brief in Child Trends. The brief looks at a teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention program—called Re: MIX—developed by a global women's health organization, EngenderHealth.

The program pairs peer educators who are young parents with health experts to facilitate a pregnancy and disease prevention curriculum. Child Trends evaluated the delivery of the program in Austin, TX, during 2017–2018. Peer educators participated in three activities: training on how to facilitate the curriculum, classroom implementation of the curriculum, and professional development activities. Peer educators successfully engaged with teens by sharing their personal stories and in so doing developed their personal and professional skillsets.

Child Trends uncovered six major themes in its research:

  • Pairing peer mentors with professional health educators resulted in strong curriculum delivery.
  • The career trajectories of the peer educators were buoyed by their facilitation experience.
  • Peer educators successfully engaged teens by sharing their stories.
  • Investing in greater professional development leads to greater success in curriculum delivery as peer educators become more knowledgeable and confident.
  • Peer educators suggested they would benefit from enhanced classroom management and facilitation training.
  • Peer educators may have unmet needs and benefit from childcare, mental health counseling, or housing.

The authors note that while their work highlights the benefits of the peer educator model, future implementers should consider their organization's capacity to deliver the program as well as the circumstances of the proposed peer educators.

Perspectives on Young Parents as Peer Educators in a Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program is available at https://www.childtrends.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/EngendgerHealthBrief_ChildTrends_June2018.pdf (471 KB).

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