Family Science Impact: Reducing Unintended Pregnancy in Teens
Family Science Impact highlights how NCFR members are making a difference through their Family Science career and showcases their career journeys. See more about the many careers and professions of Family Science.
Name: Nina Bates, Ph.D., CFLE
Current Job Titles:
–Director of Programs, North Texas Alliance to Reduce Unintended Pregnancy in Teens (NTARUPT)
–Adjunct Faculty Member, University of North Texas (UNT)
Tell us a bit about your current work and why it’s important.
As director of programs at NTARUPT, I serve as project manager for NTARUPT’s federal grant for optimal health from the Office of Population Affairs. I coordinate and collaborate with public and charter educational communities and with other community partners to facilitate sexual education and/or provide technical assistance related to providing sexual education.
Our mission at NTARUPT is all about reducing the incidence of unintended pregnancy in teens; therefore, the mission itself speaks to why my current work is so important. Youth who possess and are empowered by knowledge about how their bodies work, human sexuality, contraception and how to access it, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and the characteristics of a healthy relationship can develop the skills to maintain sexual health and improve decision-making about sexual health.
It is well known that there are disparities across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups regarding mutual access to quality healthcare, so helping underserved communities through restorative education efforts makes my work important, too. Considering that many recent policy efforts in Texas have focused on what happens after pregnancy, I would add that my work is especially important because it focuses on prevention and promotes an upstream approach to maintaining optimal health through complete sexual education. If ever there was a time and need to prevent unintended pregnancy among Texas teens, that time is now.
What was your professional path to your current role? What shaped or influenced that path?
My professional path to the present has been colorful and varied in its makeup, but it has all involved education and working with families: educating youth experiencing mental illness; working with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services; meeting the housing needs of families as a real estate broker; working as the school age parent educator and teaching parenting education and human growth and development across the lifespan in public high school districts; facilitating graduate and undergraduate courses; and much more.
My mother, now retired, was an incredible educator who was my teacher twice — once in sixth grade and again my senior year in high school — because of her certifications in multiple subject areas. Mom participated greatly in shaping my path through her demonstration of care and compassion in the classroom while holding herself and her students to the highest standards. Mom earned multiple degrees when I was extremely young, which was not particularly common for a Black woman at the time; her example certainly influenced my personal educational journey, which has yielded a doctoral degree, three master’s degrees, and multiple professional certifications.
Finally, I had some incredible collegiate mentors who shaped and influenced my path, like Dr. Joyce Armstrong, Dr. Gladys Hildreth, and Dr. Arminta Jacobson, all of whom are Certified Family Life Educators (CFLEs).
How do you use Family Science or Family Life Education knowledge or skills in your current work?
Family Science and knowledge about all 10 content areas of Family Life Education are essential components of my current professional work. Improving the lives of individuals and families through education is the cornerstone of everything I do, be it in adolescent education, parental education, collegiate education, or community education. Of course, my work with NTARUPT is about human sexuality, interpersonal relationships, human growth and development across the lifespan, parent education and guidance, and more.
As an adjunct faculty member for UNT, I teach Family Life Education, Family Law and Public Policy, Interpersonal Relationships, and other subjects. My knowledge of professional ethics and practice encourages me to be intentional with modeling a high standard of conduct and integrity with decision-making.
What is most rewarding or makes you proudest about the impact of your work?
As someone currently in the Generativity vs. Stagnation stage of Erikson’s Stages of Psychosocial Development, it is very important to me to positively impact future generations. Imparting knowledge to the people I lead professionally as director of programs at NTARUPT is a fully rewarding experience, and sowing into the next generations while expanding younger people’s capacity through mentoring and teaching is so satisfying and worthwhile.
What makes me the proudest, though, is how I have parented my children, who are now young adults. I have poured as much as I could of the knowledge and skills gained being a student of Family Science and Family Life Education into my role as a parent, and I am so proud of that work and the impact of the same.
What do you wish you would have known along your education or career path?
I wish I would have begun some of my educational work earlier and delved more deeply into increasing my understanding about data collection, statistics, and academic research earlier. I would love to have known earlier how much I would come to depend on research and data in every area of my professional work.
What do you want the world to know about your work, or about Family Science or Family Life Education?
- I would love for the world to know just how essential Family Science and Family Life Education are to the building of strong families and strong communities.
- I would love to participate in dispelling the myth that providing sexual education makes the learners sexually active.
- I would love for more faith-based communities across Texas to increase their understanding about the need for youth sexual education, and to better understand that sex is not a topic to shy away from — that gaining knowledge will aid in helping their youth to be safer and healthier.
Editor’s note: Shortly before print publication, Dr. Bates ended her tenure at NTARUPT and had transitioned to a new employer and role. She remains in her adjunct faculty role.