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Forum in Hagerstown focuses on teen pregnancy

Students say they feel pressure to have sex

Students say they feel pressure to have sex

May 09, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

HAGERSTOWN - Sixteen-year-old Brittany Hult said there is pressure at her age to have sex.

However, the Washington County Technical High School junior said she's waiting until "it's right."

"There definitely is pressure (to have sex) because we're older, everyone thinks they're so mature," Brittany said. "It's an everyone-else-is-doing-it thing."

Brittany and her friend, Jo Lassen, 14, of St. Thomas, Pa., were two of more than 100 people who attended an informational health forum Thursday at Robinwood Medical Center. The focus was teenage pregnancy, but information on health and social issues pertinent to teenagers also was available.

Cindy Earle, a registered nurse and the community health coordinator for Washington County Hospital, said it was the second health forum held locally on the topic. The forum was presented by the hospital and the Washington County Teen Pregnancy Prevention Coalition.

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Washington County has the third-highest overall teen birth rate out of 24 Maryland jurisdictions, and is above the state and national birth rate for teens, according to the most recent data.

Carrol Lourie, director of the pregnancy prevention coalition, said she wants teenagers to think about their actions and "realize the consequences."

Thursday's event included a speech about teen pregnancy and the impact on the lives of Washington County's youth, and a presentation from the Authentic Community Theatre about decision-making.

Jo said her mother told her about Thursday's forum and recommended she go. Jo said she plans to wait to have sex until she's at least out of high school.

Jo and Brittany said several of their friends are having sex and talk about it a lot.

"Everyone talks about sex," Brittany said. "Just because I don't have it, doesn't mean I can't talk about it. But I try to change the subject."

Tara Jacques, 15, said it can be embarrassing talking about sex, but she feels she can talk openly with her mother, Melody Jacques of Smithsburg. Tara's twin sister, Demi, said the girls make sure they are not friends with people who will pressure them to have sex.

"We know better," Tara said.

Carmen Fox of Cascade took her 12-year-old daughter Kaylee to Thursday's forum. Fox said her Smithsburg Middle School seventh-grader will be able to make better decisions if she has more information.

"Talking about it helps her to understand your education is more important and to practice abstinence," Fox said.

Earle said that those who were unable to afford the $10 registration fee for the event were able to attend for free. Their registrations were paid by several community organizations, including Washington County Hospital.

"We don't want anyone barred from this information," Earle said.

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