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Let teen moms tell peers about motherhood's trials

March 19, 2001

Let teen moms tell peers about motherhood's trials



Last year, 11 percent of the babies delivered at Washington County Hospital were born to mothers under the age of 20. Of those 187 infants, three were born to girls who were only 13. Given that the number of teen mothers has remained constant for the last five years, it's time to do something about it.

The Washington County Commissioners heard the bad news last Tuesday from the Interdepartmental Committee on Adolescent Pregnancy and Parenting, a volunteer group whose aim is to prevent teen pregnancies. Their job, they told the county board, wasn't to seek a solution from the commissioners, but to inform them about the problem.

Maureen Grove, executive director of Girls, Inc., and a member of the group, said telling teens to abstain from sex is not enough. A child who has the real facts about sex, as opposed to schoolyard myths, will not necessarily have sex, she said.

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However, it seems to us the problem is not that teens don't know what sex is all about. It's just that they don't realize how difficult it is to deal with its aftermath.

One group striving to fill that gap is the Parent-Child Center, a Hagerstown-based United Way agency that teaches parents how to raise their children in a loving, nurturing way.

A little more than a year ago, the center began a new program called "Teen Voices, Teen Choices." Instead of getting a health teacher or other adult to tell students about how difficult it is to raise a child, they bring actual teen-age mothers to school assemblies to tell other teens how tough it is to deal with a baby.

In addition, center officials also bring along infant models, each programmed to move with sophisticated electronics. One mimics the cries of a drug-addicted child, the other the look of a baby with fetal alcohol syndrome. The sight has brought tears to the eyes to some teens who believed they were too hard-hearted for that.

Students in four county schools have already heard the program and visits to North High and the Technical High School are scheduled. If you're interested in arranging a visit to your school, call Daphne Hughes, the center's education director, at (301) 791-2224.

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