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Coalition gets poor response to inquiry

March 16, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

Coalition gets poor response to inquiry

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - An attempt by the Teen Pregnancy Coalition to determine whether parents in Waynesboro want to know more about helping their children avoid teen pregnancy has not drawn much response, an agency official said Monday.

Maria Keyes, clinic manager for the Women, Infants and Children Program in Chambersburg, Pa., and coordinator of the coalition's efforts in Waynesboro, sent stamped, self-addressed postcards to 380 parents of eighth-graders in Waynesboro. The cards asked parents if they received a packet of information about preventing teen pregnancy that was sent to their homes by the coalition.

She said only two or three parents returned the postcards. The low response could jeopardize a March of Dimes grant that pays for the agency's postage and some printing costs.

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"The March of Dimes said they wanted a better response," Keyes said.

On the positive side, teen pregnancy seems to be on the decline in the Waynesboro Area School District, said Thomas Rocks, director of pupil services.

Rocks said the number of students who become pregnant has dropped by 60 percent in the last two years, down to about 10 a year.

Four or five years ago, the number was more than 30 a year, Rocks said.

"We're doing a lot of things, but I'm not sure what's causing the decline," he said.

The Teen Pregnancy Coalition and Franklin County Family Health Services, Inc. bring programs into the schools, he said.

Four sessions in eighth-grade health classes teach students how to avoid having sex. Other grades see videos.

The Teen Pregnancy Coalition will sponsor a panel discussion on pregnancy for middle school students this month.

The panel consists of teens who have gotten pregnant, including some who have children. They will speak to their peers about the problems they face, Keyes said.

The effort includes sending parents of eighth-graders information to help them talk to their children about sex.

That includes pamphlets and other literature on abstinence, sexually transmitted diseases and common sense measures that parents can use when talking to their children, Keyes said.

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