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?
We must do something to stop children from having children. I think that parents should talk to their children about birth control or have the family doctor talk to their teenagers about birth control, and teenagers should look at how a pregnancy would affect them.
There are certain questions teens should ask themselves regarding sex and pregnancy: If I get pregnant, how will I take care of my child; feed it, clothe it, and keep it in good health? If I do have my baby, will people respect me; how will I feel about myself? If a teenage girl has a baby, what are the odds of her and the baby's father staying together to support the baby?
Having a baby can be very costly, both in money and in education. When the baby comes, the female will miss some school and there is always the chance she will never complete high school. Without a diploma, she could have a hard time finding a good job and that means a bad life without money.
My advice to other teenagers who are sexually active is to read these questions and then see how they feel about sex without birth control. TIMOTHY DAY D.C. Street Academy
I think that if there were a closer bond in family communication, the rate of teenage pregnancy would be reduced. If teenagers knew that they could go to their parents and talk about sex without getting the "third degree," they would probably be more aware of their options. If parents would communicate with their children about such topics as sex and birth control, it would really help lessen the rate of teen pregnancy.
Teenagers are often afraid to even bring up the topic of sex with their parents. If teenagers had someone with whom they could talk about their problems, they would probably feel more comfortable talking about sex. GLORIA KEYS Ellington
The only sure way to prevent teen pregnancy is abstinence. Do not let your partner coerce you into doing something you may regret later. Having someone you can talk to, your parents, a guidance counselor, a friend, or someone you feel comfortable talking to, would be very helpful.
Establishing clinics in schools would help to ease the problem, I think. These clinics would enable students to get advice about related medical services as well as birth control and the prevention of venereal diseases. Having such clinics in the schools would not give students the approval to engage in sex, but would advise them that "If you have sex, protect yourself."
Education is the key factor in combating teen pregnancy. RONALD SWARN Roosevelt
I believe that teenage pregnancy is a problem that should be resolved inside the family unit. If parents do not want to be faced with this problem, they should take precautionary measures.
These steps should begin when their child is born. The young person should be taught social values that they will carry to his/her teen years. Teach them that they are not "nerds" because they are virgins, but on the contrary, they are better because they have self-purity. Show them the path they must take when they are young and they will never go astray.
The problem can be solved before it ever becomes a problem. Spending a few hours a day with your child can prove more helpful than punishment. RHEA JOYNER McKinley
Since teenage pregnancy has become a nationwide problem, schools, parents and churches have become involved in the effort.
Michael Young of the University of Arizona conducted a study on teenage pregnancy and came up with some impressive facts. He found that teenagers who receive sex education from their parents and schools tend to have low pregnancy rates, and if they are sexually active, they will use birth control. He also found that teens who are informed about sex by their churches tend to have low pregnancy rates, but that those who are sexually active and are affiliated with the church do not use birth control. He suggests in his study that the church strongly emphasize birth control to keep the pregnancy rate down.
I support Mr. Young's findings and propose that teens be instructed by the church, schools and their parents about the responsibilities and consequences of sex. With a concerted effort by church leaders, school programs and parents, there should be some reduction in teen pregnancy. WILLINA ROBSON Woodson
I think there are only two reasonable ways to solve this problem: education and education.
The first education is sex education at a young age. At present, most D.C. public school children receive their sex education in school in the ninth grade. This age is either after students know about sex, or are already sexually active. The sixth grade would be a good age at which to begin to teach sex education. This education should include information about different forms of birth control and resposibility.
The second education concerns what to do after pregnancy begins. The school system needs a good, centrally located clinic for both boys and girls that will give unbiased counseling on birth control, abortion, adoption, and pre- and post-natal care. This service should be free to those people who cannot pay for it. TODD GOREN Banneker
Teenage pregnancy is a problem just as adult pregnancy is. Both are a problem when the parents don't face the reality of having children. The "babymakers" should take care of their babies.
Most teens suffer a great deal of anguish as parents because they are less prepared to make the sacrifices. More often than not, teenage parents slack off the responsibility of raising their children. Most teen parents have their own parents to share the load. Teenagers or anyone else who isn't positively ready to raise the kid they've conceived shouldn't get pregnant.
It definitely isn't an accident when two people have sex, although it is possible for it to have been a mistake. Along with the choice to be sexually active comes the decision to take precautions.
Birth control is available. Use it. Remember, it isn't only the life you may create, but also the life you may destroy by being sexually active. SHERRY DOSTER Holy Spirit
The youth of today are engaging in sexual activity at an alarming rate. No longer are many of us satisfied with holding hands, getting to know one another better, or simply developing platonic relationships. Peer pressure, unhappy family relationships and too much freedom have contributed to teenage pregnancy.
To control this problem, the solution seems simple. One, the female must learn to say the word "NO" and mean it. Two, the male should prove his manhood either by competitive sports or academic pursuits, not sex. Three, if sexual contact is inevitable, he or they should use every possible preventive measure.
We should all learn not to submit to peer pressure. SAMUEL BREWER Spingarn S.T.A.Y.
There are many steps to take to solve the problem of teen pregnancy, but you must first start in the home. Parents need to educate their children about birth control and sex. I think clinics in school could reduce the number of pregnancies. Just telling a teen to say "no" is not going to help the problem because most teens are engaging in sex.
We must teach them about preventing pregnancy by using birth control. I don't understand why teenagers choose to subject themselves to such a risk. TAUNYA ASKIA Coolidge
The issue of pregnancy among teenagers is of grave importance. Young ladies today have become too loose, too unconcerned about morals and values. I believe that if our standards are raised, this issue may be reduced enough to make a difference.
I think another reason why the pregnancy rate for young girls is up so high is because many teens are uneducated. Birth control and health centers should be placed throughout the schools. It is obvious that not enough is being done.
I believe that appropriate education and awareness of problems associated with pregnancy will ultimately change the sexual patterns of teenage girls today. DYA WILLIAMS Woodson
The disease of teenage parenthood is not incurable. There are some steps that can be taken to ameliorate this problem. The stressing of one's own beauty, self-worth and health should be the first step. This can be done by telling our youth that they need not repudiate their positive values at the whim of their peers. The fact that an early pregnancy deteriorates the health of both the mother and the child should also be brought out.
The second step is to clarify what is meant by "respect." Even in today's cosmopolitan society, little respect is given to the unwed, teenaged mother. Inevitably the child will see that society does not respect his mother and neither will he.
The final step in curing the disease of teenage pregnancies lies firmly in stressing the importance of finishing school. This is a full-time task that cannot be successfully completed with the added burden of a child. A minimal education can only lead to a minimal salary in an unsatisfying job. When the education of a teenaged parent is left incomplete, it is mirrored in the future of the child.
Unless steps like these are taken, the teenaged pregnancy will continue to be a defect in society. KANTI-RANU FORD Dunbar "Speak Out" Topic for January 7:
Scientists have determined that AIDS is not transmitted through casual contact with a person carrying the AIDS virus, yet persons who have AIDS are often treated as outcasts. Under what terms would you be willing to accept a new classmate who had AIDS?
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, December 21.