Legislature(1995 - 1996)
02/20/1996 03:04 PM HES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HCR 27 - TEEN PREGNANCY EDUCATION Number 1478 CO-CHAIR TOOHEY passed the gavel to Co-Chair Bunde for HCR 27. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said this committee was probably more aware than any other committee in the legislature of the problems facing Alaska stemming from teen pregnancies. Alaska has an incredibly high teen pregnancy rate, higher than some Third World countries, and it is an ongoing challenge to deal with the problems created by teen pregnancy. Pregnant teens are more likely to have children who then become pregnant teens and pregnant teens are more apt to be on welfare and have economically depressed circumstances. One thing that has worked quite well in encouraging young people to understand just what a major experience it is to have a child is a project at Mears Junior High in Anchorage called "Sugar Baby." The project provides students the opportunity to experience some of the difficult responsibilities involved in being a parent. A "Sugar Baby" is a 10 pound bag of sugar which the student must be responsible for the total care and protection for a week. Students may not lose, break or drop the baby, and they may not cause the child to be taken away. It is the students responsibility to make sure the baby is protected from hazardous situations at all times, and they must plan to include their baby in all activities, dates, and shopping sprees. The project prohibits hiring a baby-sitter. Co-Chair Bunde said this resolution not only recognizes the work done at Mears Junior High, but commends this project to high schools and junior high schools in the state and encourages them to look at the project for their school. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON said she was aware of other projects that used eggs as the baby and wondered if the project should be expanded to include other programs, or did Co-Chair Bunde think the Sugar Baby concept was the best. CO-CHAIR BUNDE thought the Sugar Baby project worked well because the weight and bulk are most closely associated with a child. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if the project required young men and women both to participate in the project. CO-CHAIR BUNDE responded yes. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if there was a particular grade level involved. CO-CHAIR BUNDE replied the project had been done in the junior high school. His personal opinion was that the project needed to be conducted at the impressionable age, but not the terribly vulnerable age. REPRESENTATIVE ROBINSON asked if there were other aspects of parenting that were taught. CO-CHAIR BUNDE said the entire lesson teaching plan was available in committee members' packets. It is an entire research project that deals with clothing, feeding, costs involved, etc. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY directed the attention of the committee to comments made by the boys involved in the project. She thought it was an excellent tool in getting boys to recognize what it was like to be a teen-age father. REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG pointed out that Mears Junior High School was in his district and he is particularly proud they did such a wonderful job implementing this program in spite of the fact they have very few computers, no Close Up program and no travel budget for their high school sport team. Representative Rokeberg was very supportive of the resolution. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS referenced the responses from the children regarding the project and said one student indicated she was definitely not having any children after having to tote the "Sugar Baby" around for a week. On the other hand, one student indicated she was definitely waiting to have a child. CO-CHAIR BUNDE referenced the report in the committee packets on the percentage of students having sexual intercourse; 30 percent are sexually active starting in the 7th grade. CO-CHAIR TOOHEY said that many of them were unplanned pregnancies and every unplanned pregnancy is a potential AIDS victim. Unprotected sex is like playing Russian Roulette. Number 2035 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG moved to pass HCR 27 out of committee with accompanying fiscal note and individual recommendations. Hearing no objection, HCR 27 was moved out of committee. CO-CHAIR BUNDE announced that on Thursday the committee would be hearing a bill on the WICHE/WAMI program and would begin hearings on the Juvenile Code Revision.