Teen ask parents to attend informational teen pregnancy meeting

MINDEN - In the halls of Douglas High School, colorful maps give teen pregnancy statistics.

They report Nevada has the highest rate of teen pregnancy in the United States - 117 or more pregnancies per 1,000 teen-agers - or 13 teen-age girls that become pregnant every day.

Making the connection between those statistics and their teen child may be one of the most difficult steps a parent will ever have to take.

The teen pregnancy prevention group at DHS wants to teach parents and teen-agers how to communicate about this awkward subject.

The group, made up of counselors, nurses and students, will be available to parents and teen-agers Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the DHS library to help them get through that "birds-and-bees" talk.

The teen-agers involved in the group came up with the idea of a factual presentation to parents because they feel parents need to talk to their children more.

"I've had five friends this year become pregnant. It affected me a lot," said Amanda Ivie, a junior. "It's important for parents to talk to their kids. It may seem like the words are not getting through, but when we are in that situation we think about what they tell us."

One of the girls who participates in the club speaks from experience. The R-C has changed her name to protect her identity. "Kristen" said she went through a painful decision to have an abortion after she became pregnant last year. Her father still doesn't know because "he would kill me," she said.

"I don't want to see other people go through the pain I had to go through," Kristen said. "I wish I had more information. Now I'm just sorry. It breaks my heart."

Deanna Sipin, a sophomore, said a friend is now going through the decision Kristen had to make last year and her parents are not much help.

"It is helpful for parents and teen-agers to know the facts and for parents to know how to influence their kids, teach them right from wrong and how to be safe," Deanna said.

The girls all said anyone who is a parent of a high school student should attend this meeting because the students don't get any sex education information after middle school health classes, and that is evident in the number of girls who get pregnant every year.

Deanna said she hopes her presence and the presence of other students at the meeting will encourage more teens to attend.

"It's more comfortable when other teens are involved than talking to adults," she said.

Free food coupons from the school cafeteria will be given to the students who attend the meeting.

Comfort levels aside, DHS counselor Mike Caughlan and Deborah Van Bruggen from Family Support Council said parents should hear the information that will be presented Wednesday night.

"I know it is scary. It scared me. I wish I could have skipped that part of parenting. But parents need to hear this," Van Bruggen said.

Facts and statistics about teen pregnancy will be given out. Parents will have an opportunity to ask questions about sex education, pregnancy prevention programs in Douglas County and what teen-agers really think from sources such as DHS Principal Bev Jeans, Caughlan, Douglas County Community Health Nurse Mary Owens and the teens themselves.

Later participants will break into small groups to practice talking to a teenager about sex.

Caughlan said he especially encourages fathers and sons to attend the event.

Snacks will be provided at the meeting.

Call Caughlan at DHS, 782-5136.


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