Solutions to teen sex, AJC 2000


Solutions to teen sex
New Attitudes: Written by Readers ages 15 to 22

BYLINE:    Francia McCormack; For the Journal-Constitution
DATE: February 21, 2000
PUBLICATION: The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution
EDITION: Home; The Atlanta Constitution
SECTION: Editorial
I remember the boring, crappy days of being a teenager in Stone Mountain. I didn't have wild "sexcapades" after school like the Rockdale County teens featured in the recent PBS series. But I certainly remember the crowd that did. And I remember wanting to be a part of it, too.
I'll never forget the time my senior year when one guy brought in pictures of girls giving him and a friend oral sex in a hotel room. Liquor bottles were everywhere, and everyone seemed to be having a blast. I won't forget being envious. They had a great time that weekend, and I didn't. Of course it was sordid, but it was fun.
When I think of high school, I think of being bored stiff. And it's not like I didn't participate in after-school activities like soccer and swimming. But that ends usually by sundown. On weekends, my social scene revolved around the mall and the Waffle House. Needless to say, that gets old very quickly.
Coming home from college is always painful because I quickly remember that there is nothing to do here. When I was bored, what was the typical parental response? "Read a book, go study. Your room is filled with stuff to do." What good is that if you have no one to talk to about what you read or did? And you do reach a point of being sick of television.
Many adolescents don't turn to parents for spiritual, social or emotional needs anymore. I'm sure when our parents were young, they did crazy things to satisfy those gaps their parents didn't fill. But I still believed that they'd never understand what I was feeling. I was a social being who wanted more interaction with the peers around me.
You either hang with a cool crowd up for having fun (not necessarily with sex or drugs, mind you), or you spend your time lonely. And God forbid you have to go through high school with no defined clique of friends.
It's time parents started teaching children that friends aren't the most important people and provide them with the open-minded, unconditional love and support they need.
Let kids know that leading a crazy life of sex and drugs isn't all it's cracked up to be. When they want something to do, help them find it. Don't leave it all up to them.
Adolescents need more outlets of expression where they can be allowed to define themselves. That's hard when kids aren't allowed to hang out anywhere besides bowling alleys and 24-hour food joints. And they still get kicked out of those places all the time. There should be more options for entertainment. What's wrong with creating nonalcoholic, no-smoking clubs where kids can be social? There should also be more places where students can study and be creative.
Thanks to media coverage, we now know what kids have the potential of doing when they're alone and rebellious. The real solutions will come from parents, children, educators and elected officials.
They will have to come together to find tangible, long-term solutions. The key word here is community. When we get that back, maybe we'll get the kids back, too.

Photo: Francia McCormack of Stone Mountain is a senior at the University of Georgia.


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