Originally created 04/01/97

Georgia teens to tell fellow teens about pregnancy in video



This month area middle and high school students will hear their peers talking about having sex and getting pregnant in a 30-minute video called Ultimate Choice.

The video, commissioned by the Governor's Children and Youth Coordinating Council, will be shown April 8, 15 and 24 over the state's PeachStar Satellite Network. Schools can choose to show the program, although it will not be required in the classroom.

Plus, television station WJBF (Channel 6) is one of several stations statewide showing the film tonight at 7. In the video, teens across the state spill their stories in different segments, featuring teen couples, young fathers and parents of teens.

The video, produced by Atlanta-based ImageMaster productions, cost $125,000, which is an appropriate cost for a state-of-the art, quality video that will attract teens, said Judy Neal, executive director.

Targeting 11- to 14-years-olds, the stories are told in an unexplicit way with hope that by hearing their stories, teens will discuss sexual activity with their parents and peers. It emphasizes that having sex could lead to pregnancy and a line of problems, including financial stresses.

"The message is if you're deciding to becoming sexually active, you really need to think about it carefully because here are the results of what that decision will be," said Dan Johnson, producer.

Sixty-six percent of Georgia's high school students report being sexually active, according to the Georgia Department of Human Resources' Office of Perinatal Epidemiology. In 1995, more than 29,000 teen-aged girls in Georgia became pregnant, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The video took nearly a year to produce, as a crew visited cities across the state, including Augusta, interviewing teen parents and their families. The final version doesn't include any Augusta area teens, Mr. Johnson said.

"Our goal was to really talk to kids and have them share their experiences," Mr. Johnson said.

Evans High School senior Stacy Junkin, a teen mom who married the baby's father, said having teens visit classrooms and talk about their experiences would be a better tool of education. In the past year, she's noticed more peers asking for her advice about being sexually active and having a child.

"I know I would say, `Yeah, yeah, another video,' and have that attitude," she said. "It probably wouldn't be as effective as a person coming to speak to (teens) at school."

Donna Riley-Mayweather, who heads the Richmond County Health Department's teen pregnancy program, said she was unaware of the video.

Ultimate Choice also mentions the effect of welfare reform on teen parents and the man's role in caring for the child. The final segment features a male from a housing project in Atlanta trying to make right choices, which puts a positive spin on the situation, Mr. Johnson said.