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Panelists encourage parents to guide teens

May 29, 1998|By RICHARD F. BELISLE, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Being an adolescent is like driving down a dark mountain road on a foggy, rainy night with no white lines, said Tom Rocks, one of three panelists at a forum on teen drug abuse and sexuality Thursday night in Waynesboro.

Adolescents need their parents to paint the white lines for them as they pass through life's fastest-growing and most confusing time, Rocks said.

Sponsored by the Teen Pregnancy Coalition of Waynesboro, the forum drew nearly 50 people at the Waynesboro Firehall on South Potomac Street.

Other panelists were Elena Kehoe, a nurse-midwife whose topic was teenage sexuality, and Shirley Strouse from the Twin Lakes Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation in Chambersburg, Pa. The forum was moderated by Dr. Joseph Stewart, a local physician.

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In fiscal 1996-97, Strouse said, 44 teens were treated for drug and alcohol abuse in Franklin County by her agency. Included were two teens being treated for heroin addiction, she said.

Through April of this year the number of teens treated in general was 50. Half were being treated for heroin addiction.

"We always thought heroin use was worse in Waynesboro, but we're learning that that's no longer so. It must be more underground in Chambersburg," Strouse said.

In her remarks, Kehoe said the picture on teenage pregnancy in Franklin county, as it is around the country, is improving. Four years ago there were 32 cases in Waynesboro Area Senior High School. Last year the number dropped to 21 and is down to 17 so far this year, she said.

"There are two reasons," she said. "They're waiting longer and they're using contraceptives more," she said.

The best thing parents can do is to talk to their children and make sure they have goals and dreams to give them a vision for the future, one that could be ruined by pregnancy, she said.

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