Author Archive



Digging into the data behind SafeTeens


The secret is out. We confess. Here at SafeTeens, we love data. We love to look at our website analytics and see what are the most popular pages, then see how we can expand or improve them. We look at the types of questions being asked on SafeTeens Answers! and look for ways to incorporate those questions on our site and social media. The ways to use data are never-ending, which is why we are excited to share an excellent online resource that is useful to educators and anyone interested in tracking health data. All of the below data is available through the Pennsylvania Department of Health Enterprise Data Dissemination Informatics Exchange.

While the data is overall positive, with pregnancy and STD rates declining across the state over the past several years, there are still many areas that need to be worked on, as is evidence in the map at the end. Teen birth rates remain high in pockets throughout the country, along with some demographics. Our goal here at SafeTeens is to do further analysis of this data and share it here on our site for educators and health care professionals. Stay tuned for more information and take a moment to view the Health Enterprise Data Dissemination Informatics Exchange for yourself.


Pennsylvania Teen Birth Rates in 2015




One, Two, Three, VOTE!


Voting is easy – as long as you have your electoral ducks in a row.  As a service to our clients and community, MFHS created a step-by-step guide that centralizes all the forms, tools and resources needed to cast an informed ballot this November.

If you’ll be 18 years of age on or before November 6, 2012, you are eligible to vote – as long as you take a few minutes prior to the election to fill out the required forms and gather the required documents. But don’t wait too long: Pennsylvania’s voting laws simply do not allow for procrastination. You need to start the process now and, at the very least, you must complete Step One by October 9.

Your vote matters.  Following the step-by-step guide below will ensure that it counts, too.

Step One: Register to Vote

In order to vote, your first must register – and register at least 30 days before the election in which you wish to vote. That means if you want to vote in the General Election on November 6, 2012, you must be registered on or before October 9, 2012. Voter registration allows the government to prevent voter fraud by ensuring that everyone who votes is legally eligible to do so, votes in the correct location and votes only once. You do not need to register for every election, but you do have to register (or re-register) if:

  • You have never voted before
  • You have moved and changed your permanent address since the last time you voted
  • You want to change your party affiliation (eg. Democratic, Republican)

In order to register in Pennsylvania, you must:

  • Be a citizen of the United States at least one month before the next election
  • Be a resident of Pennsylvania and your election district at least 30 days before the next election
  • Be at least 18 years of age on the day of the next election

You can register to vote in person or by mail through the Department of State by clicking here.  If you choose to register by mail, remember you must print, fill out, sign and send the Voter Registration Form. If you are unable to print a form, call 1-800-552-VOTE to have a one sent to you.

The Voter Registration Form will ask you to choose a party affiliation (Democratic, Republican). Choosing a party affiliation allows you to vote in that party’s Primary Election. Pennsylvania’s Primary Elections are held in April.

If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, you can check online, on phone or in person through the Pennsylvania Department of State by clicking here.

If you have recently moved, recently changed your name, or have multiple addresses, the Department of State’s lists of frequently asked questions (FAQs) can be accessed here. Look for the drop down menu in the red box that reads “I AM.”

Step Two: Get a Valid Photo ID

You must bring a photo ID to vote in the November election. Click here for a list of the acceptable forms of ID.

If you do not have a Pennsylvania Photo ID, you can obtain one for free at Driver’s License Centers through the Pennsylvania Department of Motor Vehicles. To find a Driver’s License Center near you, click here.   Note that you must have a Social Security card and an additional form of ID (like a birth certificate) to obtain a Pennsylvania Photo ID. More information on obtaining a free photo ID for voting can be found here.

Voters who do not have verification documents necessary to get a Pennsylvania Photo ID will be able to obtain a new Department of State voter identification card for free at any PennDOT Driver License Center.  The Department of State Photo ID card is valid for voting purposes only and is intended ONLY for those individuals who cannot produce proper documentation for other types of photo identification.  Voters who want the new Department of State Voter ID must provide their name, address, Social Security number, proof of residency and previous name and/or address if changed in the past 12 months.

Step Three: Find Your Polling Place

You can vote only at your designated polling place. The League of Women Voter’s has an easy-to-use tool to find your polling place. You find it here.

Step Four: Vote

Save the date! Election Day is November 6, 2012. Your vote matters!

Absentee Ballots: If you are not able to get to your polling place on November 6, you can apply for an absentee ballot by October 30.  Completed absentee ballots are due in county election offices no later than November 2.  Click here to learn more voting by absentee ballot.

Don’t know who to vote for? Non-partisan websites like Project Vote Smart and MTV’s Power of 12 allow you to explore the 2012 presidential candidates’ political beliefs and voting records. With Project Vote Smart’s VoteEasy, you can see what candidates best reflect your own political beliefs by answering a few short questions.



Welcome to the Man Cave


A few short months ago, we asked you, the users of SafeTeens, what part of the site you most wanted to see expanded. When the votes were counted and the dust settled, one thing was clear: Pennsylvania’s teens are practically squealing – er, grunting – for a Man Cave that is interesting, informative and reliable.

That’s why we were stoked to finish up Men’s Health Month in June with a grand re-launch of the Man Cave. While before today, the Man Cave occupied only a small corner of the SafeTeens universe, today, it has grown much larger, tackling many questions and anxieties central in the lives of guys.

In the Man Cave, you’ll find lots of information – information on sex and health and girls and other guys – but if you stay awhile, you’ll leave with something much more: a deeper, more complete understanding of what it means to be a man in the twenty-first century.

Without a doubt, such an understanding is needed – and longed for – now more than ever. During no other time in the history of the world have so many conflicting ideas existed all at once about what it means to be a man. We built the Man Cave to set the record straight and put rumors to rest, and hopefully, too, to lessen the anxieties and uncertainties all guys develop between boyhood and adulthood.

This is only the beginning. We do not plan to launch the Man Cave and walk away. In the coming months, we will make the Man Cave more interactive, more relevant and more impactful. We’ll delve into more topics: risk-taking, homophobia, sexism, bullying, gangs, violence. All the while, we’ll be asking your advice. Like the decision to expand the Man Cave to begin with, the future directions the Man Cave takes will be determined by your desires and interests. Because of that, we know that the best days of the Man Cave are yet to come.



Save the Response Until Later: The Dangers of Texting and Driving


Did you know there is one distraction that seems to be on the rise with teens? It’s texting while driving. Whether it is a simple one word response or a few sentences, any amount of time that you take your eyes off the road to text is a threat to your safety as well as the safety of those sharing the road with you.

Check out these facts to see how much you know about the dangers of texting and driving:

-Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death in U.S. teenagers. Although we understand that not all crashes are a result of distracted driving, texting has become the number one cause of accidents due to distracted driving.

-Almost 65% of teen deaths due to car accidents occurred when another teen was driving. Set a good example for a friend and offer to respond to a message they receive while driving.

-80% of all car accidents involve driver’s not paying attention about only three seconds before the crash. With time spans this short, it shows that although it may only take you a few seconds to send a message, those few seconds could be the only time you need to cause the accident.

-Texting while driving makes you four times more likely to cause one of these crashes. With several dangers already present while driving, it’s important not to add to your potential harm by doing something such as texting.

-Texting while driving impairs your motor skills as much as having a blood alcohol level of .08 percent. Similar to the effects of alcohol, it can cause you to swerve into other lanes, miss a traffic signal or not break soon enough.

-Not only is it dangerous to text while driving, but as of last month, it also will cost you some cash if you get caught. In March of this year, Pennsylvania passed a state-wide law banning the use of text messaging while driving. The penalty for doing so can be up to a $50 fine and you may face points on your license.

Now that you know the facts, it’s clear that texting and driving is a dangerous. Spread the word to friends and do your part in keeping your travels safe.



Do You Know What Your Risk Is? Need-to-Know Statistics About STDs


Summer is just around the corner, and many teens are looking forward to relaxing, hanging out with friends, and maybe even spending some time alone with that special someone. Before you get too cozy, you should learn a little bit more about STDs and how to protect yourself. Spring is a perfect time to educate yourself about your risks, raise awareness about the importance of getting tested and go get yourself tested for any possible STDs you may have.

One of the most important parts of STD prevention is education. Many organizations, such as MTV’s Get Yourself Tested have started campaigns to raise awareness about STD risks. The more aware you are of your risks, the less likely you will be to develop a disease. How much do you know about your chances of getting an STD? Here are some statistics to keep in mind when choosing to keep yourself safe:

-Each year, there is an estimated 19 million cases of STDs in the U.S. Nearly half of those cases are sexually active people between the ages of 15 and 24.

-1 in 2 sexually active people will get an STD by the age of 25.

-STDs are not only passed through intercourse. Some may spread through oral sex as well. It’s important to be aware of your partner’s history, keeping yourself safe during any sexual contact.

-STDs such as Chlamydia, which is the most common STD in the U.S. with over 3 million people infected each year, have little to no symptoms. This makes it easy for someone to carry a disease and not even know it, evidently passing it on to their partner.

-Research has found that it is necessary for teens to be checked for HIV. 1 in 2 infected teens aren’t aware that they have the disease.

-Although there isn’t a cure for all, there is a treatment for 100% of STDs. The earlier you detect an infection, the easier it will be to treat. All STDs can be controlled and most can be cured through the use of different medicines. Four STDs that are currently incurable are Hepatitis B, Genital Herpes, Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV).

STD awareness is an important part of your sexual health. There are several locations where you could receive confidential, free or low cost STD tests.  Find a center in your area and take control over your sexual health by getting you and your partner tested.