Adolescent Health Program

​The Adolescent Health Program in the Division of Maternal and Child Health, Child and Family Health Improvement Branch is dedicated to addressing adolescent priority health risks, especially behaviors that put young people at risk for teen pregnancy, suicide, dating violence, exploitation, substance use disorders and sexually transmitted infections (STIs). While these issues remain a challenge, the Adolescent Health Program partners with multiple agencies, coalitions and teams across the commonwealth to promote adolescent health. Healthy teens make better students and potentially more successful adults. We are dedicated to improving the health and well-being of Kentucky's youth so that they will have every opportunity to grow up safe, healthy and meet their full potential.

Positive Youth Development

Teen Pregnancy Prevention

According to data from the CDC National Center for Health Statistics, in 2019 the national teen birth rate in the United States was 16.7 per 1,000 adolescent females ages 15-19. This is down from 41.6 in 2008. In that same period, Kentucky's teen birth rate fell from 55.8 to 24.9. Kentucky continues to make progress. However, the state teen birth rate is more than eight points higher than the national rate and equaled to 3,464 births to Kentucky teens in 2019.

The Division of Maternal and Child Health is committed to decreasing teen pregnancy in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. A strategic plan to prevent teen pregnancy has been developed and includes education initiatives for youth and parents, community involvement and media support.

With grants from the Family and Youth Services Bureau of the U.S. Administration for Children and Families, the Adolescent Health Program manages funding to local health departments in approximately 63 counties with the greatest need. Funding supports activities and resources including:

  • Formal local coalitions
  • Work groups
  • School-based curricula in abstinence, sexual risk reduction and personal responsibility education
  • Public service announcements and other mass media campaigns
  • Information provided to students and parents at health fairs, community and school events and other public forums

Evidence Based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Programs

Office of Population Affairs Teen Pregnancy Prevention

Suicide Prevention

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Kentuckians age 15-24.  Although suicide is relatively rare among children, the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases tremendously during adolescence and has increased steadily in youth ages 10-19 during the last decade. Teen suicide is a very real problem causing the deaths of thousands of teenagers across the country each year. Suicide is a serious health problem and is completely preventable.

It is important to recognize the warning signs and behaviors of suicide and know what to do to intervene.

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is a program offered throughout the state to train participants to recognize behaviors and other signs that can indicate a person is considering suicide and methods to prevent teen suicide. Educators, parents and health care providers are encouraged to participate in this free training by contacting the Division of Behavioral Health, (502) 564-4456, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Visit the DBH website for more information about available programs and resources.

Teen Dating Violence Prevention

National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFE (7233)

Teen dating violence affects millions of young people in the United States. One in three teens will experience abuse in a dating relationship and two-thirds of them will never report it to anyone. Dating violence is devastating to a young person's health and safety. Dating violence, physical, sexual and/or psychological can take place in person or through technology. The effects of dating violence are long-lasting and teens who experience abuse in relationships may act out, exhibit higher rates of drug abuse, drop out of school, have high-risk sexual behavior and commit acts of violence and suicide.

Violence is preventable. We can all help our youth grow up violence free. Everyone has the right to safe and healthy relationships. Preventing Intimate Partner Violence Across the Lifespan: A Technical Package of Programs, Policies and Practices ​describes strategies and approaches that are based on the best available evidence for preventing intimate partner violence, including teen dating violence. This resource includes multiple strategies that can be used in combination to stop intimate partner violence and teen dating violence before it starts.

CDC Preventing Teen Dating Violence

Kentucky Domestic Violence

HIV, HPV and Other Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevention

Sexually transmitted infections are passed from one person to another through sexual contact. STIs include chlamydia, gonorrhea, genital herpes, human papillomavirus (HPV), syphilis and HIV. Many of these infections do not show symptoms for a long time but still can be harmful and passed to other people. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2018, one in five people had an STI on any given day. Many young people engage in sexual risk behaviors that can result in acquired HIV, HPV and other potentially life-threatening infections. Untreated STIs are common causes of pelvic inflammatory disease, epididymitis, infertility and ectopic pregnancy, chronic pain and some may cause cancers. In 2018, 26 million new STIs were diagnosed in the United States and about half of these were in people 15 to 24 years old. 

CDC Factsheet

Youth Risk Behavior Survey

Kentucky participates in the Youth Risk Behavior Survey. This survey is conducted every two years to a randomly selected sample of middle and high schools across the state. Students answer questions regarding their participation in risky behavior. All answers are confidential. Areas of interest include sexual risk behavior, alcohol and drug use, injury and violence, tobacco use, nutrition and physical activity. The data is compared to other states at the CDC level and state level. Data is used to note areas of need, effect policies, improve and structure programs on both a national and state level.

For more information regarding the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey including national, state and large city survey results, visit the CDC website.

Kids Count Data Center Youth Statistics

Tips for Counseling Adolescents on Resisting Coercive Attempts at Sexual Activity 

Counseling Teens

Ask questions about unwanted sexual activity.

  • Has anyone ever forced you to have sex?
  • Have you ever had sex when you really didn't want to have sex?
  • Can you tell me what happened?

Explain the concepts of consent and submit. 

  • When a person has sex because they are afraid, it is not consent. It's submission.  

Discuss concept of coercion. These are tactics used to manipulate a person into doing something they do not want to do. 

  • Persuasion (I know you really want to.)
  • Put downs (No one else will ever want you.)
  • Guilt trips (But I gave up going out with my friends. I took you out, you owe me.)
  • Pressure (If you loved me, you would.)
  • Blackmail (If you don't, I will tell everyone you are a virgin.)
  • Manipulation (You are the only one who understands me. I can't live without you.)

Provide techniques for being assertive. For example, have adolescents practice these statements: 

  • "When you ____, it makes me feel___."
  • "I want you to___ or I will___."

Encourage teens to look the person in the eye, use a firm voice, stand up or sit up straight and hold their head high. 

Know the types of abuse in relationships and what you can do to prevent rape.

Discuss date rape drugs (aka club drugs)

Different types of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, prescription or over-the-counter drugs like antidepressants, tranquilizers or sleeping aids can be used unlawfully to overpower a victim or make them not remember an assault. Rohypnol (roofies), GHB (liquid ecstasy), ketamine (special K), alcohol and other drugs are used to gain access to individuals in order to engage in sexual activity. Using any of these drugs to manipulate a person into sexual activity is a crime.

Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault

National Association of Sexual Assault

Kentucky Human Trafficking

National Human Trafficking 

Reinforce message

Individuals have the right not to engage in sexual activity or to end sexual activity at any time, no matter what.

Working with Victims


  • Create a non-judgmental environment. 
  • Believe them.
  • Listen to them.
  • Give back control whenever possible.
  • Validate their feelings.
  • Offer to help them.


  • Blame them.
  • Judge them.
  • Second guess their actions.
  • Pressure them.

Refusal skills: How to say, "No"

  • Just say no. 
  • Leave. Walk away. 
  • Ignore it. Act as if you're not paying attention. 
  • Invent an excuse. Think of something else you can be doing (based on truth). 
  • Change the subject. 
  • Make a joke. 
  • Play dumb. Act ignorant about how to do it. 
  • Act shocked, as if you can't believe your friend really said it. 
  • Use delay tactics: "Not now, I have a headache." 
  • Use flattery: "You're too smart (too kind, etc.) to really mean that." 
  • Take control of the situation: "I don't want to do that now. I want to see my friend at the pizza parlor." 
  • Name the problem and the consequences.
    • "My parents do not want me to do that."
    • "I would feel dirty if we did."
    • "It's against my principles and I would feel cheap if we did. Also, I could get pregnant or get AIDS." 

Additional Information