the lost children of rockdale county
rockdale county & teenplus
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Because Rockdale County was among 33 Georgia counties with the highest number* of teen pregnancies, in 1998 the state offered Rockdale $150,000 in funding for a local TeenPlus center--Georgia's statewide teen pregnancy prevention program. TeenPlus centers stress sexual abstinence, but may offer contraception, without parental consent, if a teen requests birth control.

The state's offer to set up a TeenPlus center in Rockdale County ignited controversy. Following emotional community meetings and thousands of letters and petitions to elected officials, Rockdale rejected TeenPlus. Many viewed it as government interference in an issue--curbing teen pregnancy and teen sexual activity--which should be handled by families, churches and the community. Others attacked it for being an approach which addresses "symptoms" only. The chairman of Georgia's Christian Coalition, Sadie Fields, said: "As long as we only try to minimize the damage (by offering contraceptives for sexually active teens) you are never going to stop this kind of behavior. It is only by addressing the key problem--the fact that the moral underpinnings have been totally knocked out from under these kids--are we really going to solve anything."

The theme of government and other outside interference in people's lives, especially in family matters such as discussions with children about sex, came up in three of the interviews FRONTLINE conducted for this report, "The Lost Children of Rockdale County": Randy Poynter, a Rockdale County Commissioner who was one of the leaders in the TeenPlus opposition, Cindy, the mother of Nicole, and Frank, Amy's father.

* In 1996, the year of the syphilis outbreak, Rockdale reported 145 pregnancies among 10-19 year old girls. These pregnancies resulted in 86 births, three miscarriages and 56 abortions.

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