Pregnancy among America's teenagers is now recognized as a nation-wide problem. What steps should be taken to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy?

Birth control has been and probably always will be a controversial issue in our society. Whether it is religious ethics or moralistic values, people seem to find innumerable excuses not to use birth control, even if it is proven medically safe. The situation is sad and so are the statistics. There are over one million teen pregnancies a year.

I'm not condoning birth control for teens, and I do feel values and morals should play a big part in one's decision to have sex. "Just saying no" is apparently not an easy task for most teens or one they wish to undertake. I really think parents should stop gasping at the statistics and make birth control available to their children.

Teen pregnancy has become a reality. Yes, times have changed. No longer can a girl be sent away to an aunt's house for nine months and return after giving her baby up for adoption. It's not a "hush hush" issue anymore, or an accident that happens to that "one unfortunate girl." Only parents can help stop teen pregnancy. Educate and be open with your children about birth control. ALICIA WOOSTER Friendly

I feel that some teenagers are quite capable of having and taking care of a child. This should be well thought out by the people involved. The final outcome is no laughing matter. It's not just teens, it's every age. Pregnancy should not be an accident, it should be financially, physically and mentally a planned event. JEFF TENLY Tall Oaks

Teenage pregnancy is becoming a nation-wide problem because girls are not responsible or intelligent enough to raise a child. Usually they have to rely on their parents to do the dirty work.

Generally speaking, teenage pregnancy is a direct result of an uncaring home life. The parents are the cause of teen pregnancy. Communication and lack of love and understanding of teenage problems today break down the family life.

Strong religious beliefs, love and respect between parents, communication and understanding children's problems and needs are the only realistic and honest ways to prevent adolescent pregnancies. Parents must take full responsibility for sexual information. Involvement, self-sacrifice, enjoyment of family life, a good example and God-oriented lives are the only answers that will win the war against teenage pregnancy. ANGELO PIAZZA Bishop McNamara

If you look closely at a few of the teenage girls in the cafeteria, you will notice something both shocking and horrifying; these girls are pregnant.

There are several causes for teenage pregnancies besides the obvious one; including lack of judgment on the part of the teenager, lack of education in the school and lack of concern by the parents.

Nevertheless, the teens themselves are the ones who create the situation. No matter how "caught up in the moment" one is, a certain level of maturity should be exercised. Either birth control should be used or abstinence should be practiced.

The bottom line to solving this growing problem is maturity on the part of both teenage boys and girls, otherwise it will never be solved. DENA YOUNG High Point

I feel that we should tackle the teenage pregnancy problem by:

1) Censoring all rock songs about sex on the radio (for example George Michael's song "I Want Your Sex").

2) Increasing the number of advertisements on condoms and other contraceptive methods.

3) Distributing free condoms and instruction books in schools.

Furthermore, the states of Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia should require that all schools educate more about the dangers and risks of sexual activity during the teenage years.

If all of these were accomplished in some way, I feel that the teenage pregnancy rate would drop. RICHARD HYATT DeMatha

Contraceptives are not the best way to curb teenage pregnancy. The distribution of contraceptives in schools may not be intended by authorities to increase sexual activity, but in my opinion it will. With the notion of sex without any risk, teenagers are infinitely more likely to increase their sexual contacts. This counter-effect balances, to a certain degree, the use of the imperfect contraceptives.

I see teenage pregnancy as a result of the growing permissive attitude towards sex in recent times. My solution for decreasing teenage pregnancy is a multi-level campaign -- teachers, parents and other authorities -- to educate teenagers that sex before marriage is wrong. The First Amendment {of the Constitution} does say that government may not restrict a person's religion. However the Tenth Amendment says that all powers not forbidden from the states are reserved for them, including governing state morals. Therefore, it is each state's responsibility to discourage its citizens from engaging in premarital sex. JOHN QUINTANELLA Grace Brethren

"Just Say No!" seems to be the catch phrase of the people these days, adults in particular. They apply this "expression of the 80s" to several of the questions and trials that teenagers face today, including teenage sex.

For such a complex problem, I can't believe the answer is so simple. I think part of the problem may be that some adults do believe it to be just that easy. When a young adult comes to a parent or adviser with an inquiry about sex, I don't think it is sufficient to answer "Just Say No!" I think that questions should be answered as well as asked.

I also think that if teenagers insist on having sex, and some will, protection should be readily available, perhaps even by mail, through a legitimate organization since young people are too scared or embarrassed to buy them at the local drug store counter. These ideas probably won't solve the problem, but they may help. MARTINA DRISCOLL Oxon Hill

I believe that one of the reasons for the nation-wide pregnancy problem is that teenagers today are afraid to buy protection. Even though we know where to buy it, it's getting up the nerve to actually purchase it that holds us back. We find it embarrassing, especially when an adult is around.

We're afraid to go to our parents, in fear of disapproval because of the decision we made. I believe teenagers would feel more comfortable getting protection from an environment with other teenagers around, such as school. If it were made available to us in school health rooms, we would feel that, since other kids are in there, we have nothing to worry about. I'm not saying that it's all right to have sex as a teenager, but if we decide to, it is best to have protection available to us.

Another reason, I believe, that the teenage pregnancy rate is high is that we don't feel comfortable using protection. We don't feel comfortable for a number of reasons. Right now, we're still "exploring our bodies." We're not sure how to use the devices and we are not sure what after-effects they can have on our bodies.

The last reason I know of for not using these devices is plain stupidity. MARCHELLE DICKERSON Laurel

Teenage pregnancy can be prevented by the full cooperation of the government, parents and teenagers themselves. First, the government should allot a substantial amount of money to the school system to allow schools to establish birth control clinics. The clinics would distribute condoms and other means of birth control to students and counsel them on their sexual experiences.

Second, parents should talk to their children frequently concerning sexual intercourse. With the proper advice, parents can be a dominant voice in a teenagers life.

Finally, teenagers themselves are the most significant preventers of pregnancy. They should have some sort of moral restraint, or use some sort of birth control.

With the complete effort of the government, parents and teenagers, pregnancy can be prevented. HOWARD HEARD Forestville

When a teenage pregnancy occurs, often the teenage parents are unprepared mentally and emotionally. Special homes, designed to encourage the mother, should be established, so that she and the father can either raise the child in a manner pleasing to the Lord or place the child up for adoption. Many factors concerning maturity, responsibility and financial stability need to be considered before having a child.

Abortion is not the answer. The best answer for teen pregnancy is to avoid sexual situations until one is mature enough to live a life of his or her own. How can one "child" handle the responsibility of raising another? MELISSA HARRIS Riverdale Baptist

I think to solve this problem we should take one whole day of school to take the girls in the eighth, ninth and tenth grades to a day care or hospital to let them watch over one little toddler to show them the pain, the troubles and the responsibility of watching and having a child.

Another answer would be to set up day care in schools to keep pregnant girls in school so they can have an education and learn to handle a child. ROBERT COWAN Duval "Speak Out" Topic for December 3:

Many times, students who are academically inclined may not reach their potential because they give in to peer pressure and allow their grades to suffer. What role do the opinions of classmates play in influencing a student's attitude toward school?

Responses should be no more than 150 words in length and typed or written legibly. Political-style cartoons on the topic are welcome and should be drawn on posterboard. submissions should include the student's name, school and grade.

Responses should be addressed to: Weekly High School Section The Washington Post 1150 15th St. NW Washington, D.C. 20071 Deadline for responses is: Monday, November 23.