A Map and Timeline of Contraceptive Education Based on Teenage Pregnancy

As sexual education continues to be a debated topic, young people are missing out on comprehensive and complete education regarding contraceptive methods. Missing this sufficient education prevents the decrease in adolescent pregnancies that could otherwise be seen, according to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health. The American Pregnancy Association lists some of the increased associated with teenage pregnancy as premature birth, low birth weight, infant mortality, and cephalopelvic disproportion (the baby’s head is larger than the mother’s pelvic opening), which in turn increases the chances that the mother will require surgical intervention and/or suffer more adverse effects. Contraceptive education is the first step in helping young girls be safer and healthier.

Summary of Project

‘Young Mothers’ is an interactive map and timeline that displays both teenage pregnancy rates, and data on the type of and amount of funding for sexual/contraceptive education in each Province, Territory, State, or more specific area if data permits in the United States and Canada between 1990 and the current year. The project will provide accessible data on the correlation of teenage pregnancy and contraceptive education, which could be utilized by researchers in their work, or by the general public to find areas with schools that will be able to provide quality sexual education to their children, or even to themselves. For young people, it is very difficult to access proper or well-sourced information or conduct research, and on a topic that directly concerns their health, there should be an accessible tool.

Platform and Logistics

‘Young Mothers’ would ideally be created using ArcGIS, an interactive map making program which allows users to not only input their data and customize the appearances of their maps, but also analyze data and trends and share access to all content with team members, which would allow ‘Young Mothers’ the possibility to grow to become a team-run project. As it stands now, ArcGIS costs, at the lowest tier that is still able to create maps, $820.00 per year. As my budget for the project is 3 sticks of gum and some lint, this was not feasible.

On ArcGIS, I would be able to use colours to represent categories of teenage pregnancies. For example, a State with 0-5,000 teenage pregnancies may be blue, while another with 5,001-10,000 may be purple. As a user slides along the timeline, they will be able to see the colours shift as areas change sexual education policies, or new contraceptive methods become available/legal. Hovering on any one square would bring up further information if possible, including the sexual education budget in the region, more specific data on births (Statistics Canada separates <15 year old mothers and 15-19 year old mothers in databases, so that would be something to include where data is available), and potentially the political affiliation of the government at the time. A concept image has been provided below.

A basic concept image for the ‘Young Mothers’ interface.

Some examples of projects created using ArcGIS are as follows:

Sources

Creating ‘Young Mothers’ will require cross referencing many databases, as most will include data on the age of the mother, but not location, or vice versa.

Sources include, but are not limited to:

As ‘Young Mothers’ would require a large number of sources, a spreadsheet program such as Google Sheets or Microsoft Office Excel could be used to organize them. Additionally, a program such as the one Adam Crymble is developing to assist in his thesis could be of use in the ‘Young Mothers’ project, especially for sources towards the older end of the time range, or even beyond it, if in the future ‘Young Mothers’ expands.

Current Media

Below is an interactive timeline of the history of birth control, created earlier in the ENGL201 course. While ‘Young Mothers’ will not attempt to catalogue information earlier than 1990, research into innovations in contraceptives will further help to explain trends showcased by ‘Young Mothers.’

Changes from Proposal

In developing ‘Young Mothers,’ several changes were made from the initial proposal:

  • A definite timeline was added. While ‘Young Mothers’ could be expanded in the future, setting a solid block of time to research narrows down sources and makes the initial project manageable.
  • The map regions were changed from electoral ridings and congressional districts to Provinces, Territories, and States. This is to allow for a broader and more accessible choice of sources, including Provincial/Territorial/State government websites which may not include data for each electoral riding/congressional district, as that is not always the standard way of organizing land.

Changes for the Future

As mentioned above, ‘Young Mothers,’ in the future, could be properly developed using ArcGIS. The timeline could also be further expanded to include more historical data, and allow the project to become a tool used by historians as well. Lastly, additional information could be included that could pop up when an area is hovered over. This could include local contact information for any family planning businesses in the area, or the contact info for local politicians to push for changes in the curriculum.