Since 2013 our organization has partnered with public opinion polling companies to conduct scientific public perception polling on teen pregnancy, sex education, and youth health issues within Tulsa County. We also partner with university researchers to conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews. Results inform our organization and partners on the climate and knowledge of these issues within our community, potential needs, and track progress over the years.
Community Needs Assessment
What does Tulsa need to better support adolescent sexual health?
In 2022 Amplify led a Community Needs Assessment to identify what Tulsa needs to better support adolescent sexual health. Researchers collected survey data from 791 participants, conducted 20 interviews, and held three focus groups with diverse Tulsa residents, including teens, young adults, parents, educators, medical professionals, and others.
“You gotta break that log jam that says if you teach your kids about sex, they’ll have sex. That is statistically false. I mean, it’s just undeniably, statistically false. In fact, the statistics bear out that if you don’t teach them, they’re much more likely to engage in stuff that’s mysterious and interesting.”Local Community Faith Leader
THE NEED FOR INFORMATION
Study participants identified the sexual health topics they want to learn more about. The most commonly identified topics include:
- How to talk to providers about sexual health – 46%
- Teen development – 42%
- How to talk to teens about sex – 40%
- Contraceptives – 39%
- Puberty – 30%
- How to talk to parents/guardians about sex – 28%
PARENTS ARE IMPORTANT
Teens identified trusted adults they would talk to if they had a sexual health need. Teens were most likely to identify their mother (39%) as the trusted adult they would talk with.
SUPPORT FOR SEX EDUCATION
A majority of adults (92%) somewhat or strongly agreed that teens should have access to comprehensive sexual health education in school.
”If sexual health was difficult [already], during COVID time it was three or four times more difficult to get sexual health [resources]… because they were concentrating on other things that were not sexual health. There are programs that don’t exist anymore… Once the pandemic had happened and is supposed to be coming to an end, or we’re getting back to normal, they don’t open those programs again [for immigrant populations and other marginalized people].”Local Latine Young Adult
IMPACT OF COVID-19
Participants were asked about the effect of COVID-19 on access to sexual health services. Before the pandemic, 50% of teens and young adults reported they had high access to sexual health services. In 2022, only 17% felt they had high access.
PATHWAYS TO INFORMATION
Nearly 50% of Tulsans reported websites and social media as a preferred method to receive sexual health information.
THREATS TO TULSA’S LIVELIHOOD
Nearly all of the interview participants expressed concerns about the future of Tulsa due to discriminatory policies, attitudes, and laws. Participants discussed ways negative attitudes toward sexual health education reflect larger trends and shifts in the culture of Tulsa.
“I think I am lucky enough to go to college outta state because I feel like the state that we live in isn’t the most supportive of people like me and I want to keep it realistic… wanting a job in a high position, I just don’t think Oklahoma would be able to offer someone like me that position…so that’s why I’m going outta state…”Local LGTBQ+ Young Adult
Expand access to sexual health information, services, and resources
- Support comprehensive sex ed in school, community, and faith-based settings
- Increase website and social media outreach
- Raise awareness of existing resources
Demand equity for populations experiencing health disparities
- Provide resources in multiple languages
- Ensure ALL young people have access to youth-friendly health services
- Advocate for policies that improve health outcomes
Eliminate the stigma
- Accelerate community-driven support for youth sexual health
- Increase sexual health access and knowledge
- Encourage communication between teens and trusted adults
Teen Birth Data
Oklahoma has the 4th highest teen birth rate in the nation.
“While teen birth numbers and rates have been decreasing in Oklahoma over the years, we still lag behind other states and have one of the highest teen birth rates in the nation. Adolescents and young adults have the highest rates of the most common Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). Teen pregnancy and STIs are preventable. Investing in their prevention will pay high dividends for our state’s young people, our future workforce and our state’s economic prosperity.” – Healthy Teens Oklahoma
|Oklahoma has the 4th highest birth rate in the nation for teens, ages 15-19|
|Tulsa County teen birth rates decreased nearly 58% from 2009 to 2020|
|Tulsa County’s teen birth rate (23.9) remains much higher than the national average (13.9)|
|Tulsa County had the 2nd largest number (500) of teen births in Oklahoma, or about one out of every six (15%) in the state|
|Nearly 1 in 7 (15%) Oklahoma teen births are a subsequent birth for the teen|
|The Oklahoma teen birth rate declined 56% over the last decade|
|Oklahoma saved $49 Million in 2015 due to the teen birth rate decline|
|84% of teen births are paid for by Medicaid|
Scientific public perception polling over teen pregnancy, sex education, and youth health issues within Tulsa County.
Public Perception Polling results inform our organization and partners on the climate and knowledge of these issues within our community, potential needs, and tracks progress over the years. This polling was conducted most recently in May 2019.
Reducing Teen Pregnancy
- Tulsans overwhelmingly agree reducing teen pregnancy is important
- Support grew to 90% after being told how Oklahoma compared nationally for teen birth rates
- 88% of Tulsans support sex education within Tulsa Public Schools
- The majority of respondents support the teaching of inclusive sex education
- 90% of Tulsa adults agree teens should have access to publicly funded health centers
Talking About Sex
- Half of Tulsans believe parents feel uncomfortable talking with their kids about sex
- The most common reasons for discomfort were reported as holding conservative values or being afraid of saying the wrong thing
- The majority of respondents think teens should have access to birth control if they are sexually active
- Strong support was shown for having condoms available at High Schools
- There is near universal familiarity (96%) with birth control pills and condoms
- Only 44% knew where to find free or reduced cost birth control in Tulsa