Teen sexuality forum off to slow start Better communication sought by organizers

February 19, 1993|By Cindy Parr | Cindy Parr,Contributing Writer

Only three parents attended a meeting Wednesday night to hear educators at Westminster High School discuss the importance of understanding teen sexuality.

The session was the first of three independent discussions on the subject. The others are scheduled at 7 p.m. on March 3 and March 10 in the school's media center.

Barry Weidner, a social studies teacher who helped develop the program, said it was designed to achieve objectives set by Westminster High's school-improvement team.

The teachers hope the discussions will lead to better communication between students and their parents, which in turn could help reduce the teen pregnancy rate at Westminster High.

"We tried to come up with all types of strategies, and one was to talk directly to parents," Mr. Weidner said.

The first session included an overview and history of sex education, a description of pertinent courses taught at Westminster High, and discussion on the need for teens to receive more information on sexuality.

Home economics teacher Judy Geiman told the parents that the first step in understanding teen sexuality is to open communication lines.

"My students tell me they wish their parents would talk to them more," Mrs. Geiman said. "Teens fear discussions of sexuality. Therefore, they are afraid to bring it up. There seems to be embarrassment because it is a personal, private issue.

They don't want to say the wrong thing, so they say nothing."

The panel, which included guidance counselor Catherine Myers, told the parents that high school students are taught the "mechanics" during a freshman health course titled "Family Life and Human Development," but there needs to be more.

"Parents need to teach their values to their children," Mr. Weidner said. "The parents need to be accessible and approachable, so their kids feel they have someone they know that they can go and talk to. If they have questions about values and attitudes, they should be answered by the parents."

Phyllis Wiseman, whose 14-year-old son attends Westminster High, said she "came here because I wanted to be able to communicate better with my son and answer some of the questions he may have."

"I am very fortunate that we communicate well now, and I am hoping that continues through his adolescence," she said.

Ann Goldman, the mother of sons age 14 and 16, said she attended the discussion because she is concerned about what teen-age students think they know about sexuality.

The March 3 session will include discussions of misconceptions about teen sexuality and reasons for premature sexual activity. The March 10 session will focus on strategies for talking with teens about sexuality, decision-making and communication skills.

The sessions are free and open to the public. Information: 848-5050.

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