Support Independent, Reliable Sex Ed for Teens: Scarleteen needs you!

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Support Scarleteen graphic I love Scarleteen. I am proud to be a monthly contributor. Why?

Scarleteen is one of the most reliable sources of independent sex education available to teens. By "independent" I mean that they receive no federal, state, or local funds and are also noncommercial.

Scarleteen is designed specifically for teens and presents sexual health information in a clear and nonjudgmental way. It is maintained by people who care deeply about making sure that teens have access to accurate information with which to make decisions about their bodies and their relationships.

 From Heather Corinna, the indomitable force behind Scarleteen, I learned just how much use the site gets:

25,000 unique users daily, with an average of 3.5 page loads apiece.

43,000 registered users on their always-moderated message boards. Scarleteen's staff and voluteers have answered every one of teh 63,000 topis teens have posted, providing honest, accurate and nonjudgmental answers.

900 "Sexpert Advice" columns. "Sexpert Advice" is also syndicated on RH Reality Check (another fabulous information resource).

In addition to blog posts and active forms, Scarleteen runs a text message service where teens can text questions to 66746 (keyword "ASKST") and receive answers directly on their phones.

They do all this with very little money and the unbelievable energy of people like Heather Corinna. And because she is Heather Corinna, she has big plans for the future, provided the money is there. In Scarleteen's plans for 2010?

Find-a-Doc is a user-fueled database we'd like to build to help young people find the in-person sexual and reproductive healthcare, counseling, LGBTQ support, rape and sexual abuse survivor support and other services related to sexuality they need. Unlike many adults, young people often lack the ability to get a recommendation from a friend: many of their peers and partners do not often yet use or know where to get these services, either. Some do, but are reluctant to disclose they have used them. This database would allow a user to enter one of these services they have used and would reccomend to another young person. Scarleteen staff will validate the service/provider by phone before publishing the listing. Our users in need of these services will be able to search for these services by choosing the type of service they are looking for and entering a zip code.  They will also be able to read comments from others who have used these providers/services to help them make their best choices in care. Find-a-Doc has been on our list of to-do's for two years now, but the budget has not yet allowed us to pay a tech developer what would be needed to build it.

Improved Mobile Performance: More and more users are accessing the web via their mobile phones.  While Scarleteen is currently browsable via mobile, it is not optimized for that use.  Site enhancements for mobile use can help us expand our reach and the ability of users to get to us exactly when and where they need us.

Volunteer stipends: Our volunteers are an integral part of Scarleteen. Most of them are young adults themselves, and having peer or near-peer voices and perspectives on the site is crucial to keeping Scarleteen youth-centered and accessible in tone for young people. Not only do our volunteers have their own valuable experiences in working as volunteers, they help keep parts of the site running smoothly and assure our users who are asking for one-on-one interaction get it from caring, compassionate and informed people. And the longer we can sustain a volunteer, the more skilled they become. Beyond slathering them in thanks and providing them skills and training, having some reasonable stipends is one way we can help retain the volunteers we value so much.  For more about our volunteers, as well as more about our executive director, Sexpert Advice authors and guest authors, click here.

• Scarleteen would like to increase our traffic and our reach. Increased reach not only means more young people getting the sex information they want and need, it also can help support Scarleteen by creating greater opportunities for fiscal sponsorships and advertisers. Scarleteen has never purchased any kind of advertising to let young people know about our services. Given that all of our traffic has been via direct referrals and word-of-mouth, just imagine how many youth we might be able to reach with other means of promoting the site. We would also like to serve our global reach better by adding more sexual health resources specifically tailored to our users in India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and the South Pacific.

If you don't already know the site please take a minute to visit. And when you do, please show them a little bit of holiday generosity. When you do you are sharing it with millions of teens whose lives are safer because of the information that Scarleteen provides.

Of course if you know the site and are ready to donate now, just click here.

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