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Teen pregnancy campaign planned

July 18, 2006|by TARA REILLY

WASHINGTON COUNTY

As Washington County continues to face a high teen pregnancy rate, a task force has been working quietly to help lower the numbers.

But soon, it's likely the group's work will become more familiar to county residents.

The Washington County Teen Pregnancy Task Force says it wants teens to know what can happen if they have sex, including the possibility of becoming young parents or catching sexually-transmitted infections, and they want parents to learn how to talk to their children about sex.

To get the message across, slogans such as or similar to "sex lasts a moment, being a parent lasts a lifetime," or "respect yourself, protect yourself," are planned to show up in advertisements, part of a wider media campaign that will hit the television, radio, Podcasts and newspaper.

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Task force member Dale Bannon said at a meeting Monday that it's possible some commercials will contain Washington County teenagers to localize the issue.

Washington County Community Partnership for Children and Families recently gave $108,000 in grant money to the Washington County Health Department for a media campaign.

The task force, appointed by the County Commissioners, is working on expanding and adding teen pregnancy prevention programs offered by nonprofit agencies, schools and churches.

One of the programs, "Our Whole Lives," aims to help participants "make informed and responsible decisions about their sexual health and behavior," according to information provided by the task force.

The program includes a series of workshops and is for students in kindergarten through 12th grade and adults. It can be used in congregational, school and community settings, with the option of adding religious content to the curriculum, according to the information.

Task force member Karen Christof said faith communities have used the program and have been successful.

Another avenue discussed was the expansion of the Will Power/Won't Power program, which Girls Inc. provides to 12- to 14-year-old girls to encourage delaying sexual intercourse.

"Will Power/Won't Power enables girls to develop crucial attitudes and skills for dealing with health and sexuality issues by building girls' capacity to make good decisions," according to the task force.

Task force members said they are working on setting up a resource library that will allow parents to borrow educational materials on teen sex. They also are working on starting a "Lunch & Learn" program, a series that teaches parents how to talk to their children about sex.

Christof said a tool kit for parents will be available. The kit contains literature on communication about sexuality, maturation and self-esteem, and information about contraception and sexually transmitted infections.

In 2004 - the last year for which data is available - 206 females between the ages of 15 and 19 had babies, an increase from 185 births in the same group in 2003, according to the Health Department.

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