New app offers sex health information to teens

A new app from the Department of Health offers teens access to nearby clinics, pre-screened by peers to ensure they're adolescent-friendly.
A new app from the Department of Health offers teens access to nearby clinics, pre-screened by peers to ensure they’re adolescent-friendly.

A new app from from the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene aims to provide New York City teens with information about clinics and sexual health services at the click of a button — or tap of a finger.

The app is getting surprisingly little promotion, given the backlash from the mayor’s teen pregnancy ads, when many advocates and city officials accused the administration of wasting funds and energy on a shame campaign that did not focus enough or at all on providing access to information or resources.

“The app is a great step forward and I commend the administration,” said Councilwoman Anabel Palma, one of the city officials who took issue with the ad campaign. “But I still am extremely disappointed about the ads and upset the administration won’t change the messaging of stereotyping or stigmatizing current teen parents and past teen parents as well.”

Palma praised the app as a better proactive, preventative measure, insisting that “scare tactics don’t get teens to correct their behavior, education does.”

The app seizes on the fact that in New York state, teens are not required to get parental consent before receiving sexual health resources, information, or treatment.

The app has three components: a clinic search engine; information about various forms of birth control, including emergency contraception, and a reminder that both a condom and birth control must be used to be effective; as well as a section of video testimonials from teens.

The teens in the videos describe the experience of clinic visits, as well as other experiences teens may have trouble discussing with adults, including sexual attraction and unplanned pregnancies.

Some clinics are marked with a gold star, indicating they offer some services free of charge. All of the clinics included in the app’s directory have been screened by teen “mystery shoppers,” who visited the clinics in advance to make sure they’re adolescent-friendly.

The app also assures users that all of the clinics offer confidential sexual health services, so information will not be shared with parents or significant others. No information is logged by the app when downloading or using it, either.

The app, called Teens in NYC Protection +, is available via iTunes.

More information on teen health resources and services is accessible on nyc.gov by searching “NYC teen.”

 

Follow Danielle Tcholakian on Twitter @danielleiat


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