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Sex has consequences

Local agency sponsors a contest to get teens to think before they hook up

Local agency sponsors a contest to get teens to think before they hook up

January 23, 2007|by FEDORA COPLEY

It's weird, it's intimate, it's beautiful, it's scary - sex.

Sex is something glorified in movies and pop music, talked about in high school cafeterias - an all-around-awesome topic for teens.

But for all its hyped positive qualities, sex also can lead to tragedy, such as incurable diseases, or simply difficult circumstances, such as unplanned pregnancy.

For teens that have sex, pregnancy should be a serious concern.

But you've heard this before: Adults preaching (in the cheesiest voice possible), "Don't have sex, kids. It'll ruin your life."

But seriously, caring for a baby is a lot of work, and could bring down your life to something less than awesome, according to Carrol Lourie, consultant with the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition.

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"Having a baby before you're out of school reduces your chances of getting an education and therefore of getting a job," she said. "Teen moms' bodies are not ready to have a baby. So their babies are more likely to have health problems."

Washington County has the fourth-highest teen birth rate in Maryland. Statistics show most teen mothers are unmarried, Lourie said, and single-parent households tend to have lower incomes, more stress, more financial problems and more health problems for babies.

The Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition is not taking a moral stand on teens having sex, Lourie emphasized. The coalition is concerned about the impact of parenthood on teenagers and on the community.

"What we're saying is, 'Abstinence is a teen's first and best choice,'" she said. "But if that's not their choice, they need information about where to get birth control."

In reaction to Washington County's high teen pregnancy rate, the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition is asking teens to help design public service announcements that get teens' attention. The coalition is sponsoring a competition to stimulate and reward local teens' creativity.

The competition invites teens to produce and submit PSAs centered around the theme "sex has consequences." The PSAs will be aired and published locally. The contest is open to Washington County residents, ages 13 to 21.

The contest has three categories - a 30-second TV ad; a 10-minute short video; and full-page magazine ad.

Big prize money is given to the top three entries in each category - first-place entries will receive $1,000; second place will receive $500; third place will receive $250.

For complete rules and eligibility requirements, go towww.unitedwaywashcounty.org. Entries are due March 23.

Winning videos and print ads will be showcased at an Academy Awards-style ceremony to be held May 2 at The Maryland Theatre.

Lourie hopes the contest gets teens' attention, because too many local teens are having babies.

"There are a couple hundred teens giving birth each year (in Washington County)," Lourie said. "Several of those births were second babies. For one (mom), it's her third."

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