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Mothers, daughters talk about sex

May 11, 2007|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - As a father, Dr. Dave Solberg concedes that children don't want lectures, so he had a question for girls at a teen pregnancy conference Thursday:

"When you have sex, the question you have to ask yourself is, 'Do I want to be a mother today?'" Solberg said Thursday during a presentation for girls and their mothers.

Dozens of women and girls turned out to hear Solberg and another doctor discuss some of the consequences of sex, including pregnancy and sexually-transmitted infections.

Though some of the teens said they didn't want to hear the facts from their parents, the women at "Just for Us Girls!" said they believe their girls need to get the information in some way.

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"I think a lot of the stuff doesn't get covered in the schools the way it should be covered. They keep wanting to go with the abstinence (approach), and obviously that doesn't work," said Erica Mellott, who took her niece to the program after finding out about it through her job at Washington County Hospital.

In his presentation, Solberg said the county's teen pregnancy rate was the fourth-highest in the state in 2003, 2004 and 2005. More recent figures are not yet available. Children as young as 13 have gotten chlamydia and gonorrhea, he said.

Solberg said he doesn't believe emphasizing abstinence alone will help teenagers, who ultimately will make their own decisions about sex. Instead, he encouraged parents to share as much factual information as they can about sex. For Tracy Hoover and her 17-year-old daughter, Caitlin Hoover, even a question about how much is shared between them seemed contentious.

Hoover rated their talks as "very comfortable" and open.

Not so, Caitlin said.

A junior at South Hagerstown High School, Caitlin said she doesn't know anyone who isn't sexually active. While girls seem to respect virgins, Caitlin said boys pressure for sex.

Caitlin said she no longer needs her mother's advice.

"I talk about everything," Caitlin said. "She listens."

After the program, Kaylee Fox, who turns 12 in two weeks, called the presentations, which included pictures of genital warts, "gross." The Smithsburg Middle School sixth-grader said she doesn't need or want any more information about sex.

"I think when she gets older, she'll appreciate that we were here, but at this age, it's all 'eww' ... and funny and giddy," said Fox's mother, Carmen Fox, who vowed she wasn't giving up.

"We're going to talk about it a lot even though, as Dr. Solberg says, his 12-year-old doesn't want to talk about it; nor does mine," Fox said.

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