NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New Yorkers have expressed mixed feelings about a new app the city has launched, providing advice to teens who are sexually active.
As CBS 2’s Steve Langford reported Monday, the app is called “Teens in New York City Protection+,” and it has free information for teenagers on where to get free condoms and other birth control such as female condoms and IUDs, and where free pregnancy, HIV and STD testing is available.
Clinics in all five boroughs are listed, and were screened by teens who posed as mystery shoppers. Those marked with a gold star provide the service for free.
The app also includes videos developed with and for teens.
It is all brought to you by the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“We want to make sure that no teen who’s sexually active doesn’t know they can go for services to protect themselves and stay healthy,” said Health Department Assistant Commissioner Deborah Kaplan.
Kaplan noted that state law allows minors to obtain all the information without parental consent or knowledge.
“There are some teens who can’t or don’t feel they can talk to their parents, and yet they are sexually active, and they are at risk of unintended pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.
The app is the latest effort by the city to lower the number of teenage parents.
The teen pregnancy rate in the city has dropped 30 percent over the past decade. Still, 17,000 teenagers get pregnant every year in New York City.
But not everyone likes the idea of the app.
“I’m a big proponent of parental consent,” said Frank Russo, president of the American Family Association of New York.
Russo said he approves neither of the app nor of the fact that parents do not have to be consulted.
“It’s going to lead to more sexual activity,” he said. “I don’t think there’s any question about that.”
Some teens agreed with Russo’s conclusion, CBS 2’s Jessica Schneider reported.
“Nowadays, kids, younger have iPhones and stuff and download all these apps, and they might see it and think it’s OK,” said high school student Samantha McEvoy, “and it’s not.”
But other said the app could be helpful as long as teens aren’t getting all the information online.
“I think it’s probably OK,” said Elizabeth Kromelow of the Upper East Side. “I mean, knowledge is power, but you have to do your job at home and talk to you kids.”
And on the streets of the Upper West Side, people expressed considerable support for the new app.
“If it is to help teenage girls like my own daughter get the health services they need, I think that’s perfectly reasonable,” Joanna Bush said. “We’re all entitled to that.”
The Health Department said a survey of public high schools shows teenagers are having less sex in recent years.
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