03/20/05 — Essay contest focuses on sexual abstinence

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Essay contest focuses on sexual abstinence

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 20, 2005 2:00 AM

Wayne County health officials hope an essay contest will support teens already practicing abstinence and encourage others to follow their example.

This will be the third year for the abstinence essay contest, sponsored by the Health Department in collaboration with the Wayne Council on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention. The topic of the essay: Why abstinence is the best choice for teens in the prevention of teenage pregnancy.

"We're looking for young people out there who believe this is the best message," said Carolyn King, the health educator supervisor with the county Health Department. She called the effort "one more piece in the puzzle to reach out and make a difference on a tough issue."

The department has long advocated for abstinence among teens in its health education programs that are presented at the county's schools. But with teen pregnancy and sexually-transmitted diseases still a problem, the message is still relevant, King said.

Even if teens have not been abstinent in the past, King said, the essay contest provides an opportunity for them to reconsider their choces in the future. It also supports those teens already practicing abstinence, she added.

"We want teens to know they are not alone and that they have made the best choice," King said.

Peer education is highly effective, she said. By witnessing a peer's commitment to sexual abstinence, teens can be encouraged to abstain from sexual activity, she said.

The contest also supports parents and other adult leaders who are advising teens to practice abstinence, King said.

"It's a great way for parents to bring up this discussion, if they have not done so already," she said.

The essay contest is open to all Wayne County high school students in grades 9-12, including students in public and private schools and those that are home-schooled. Essays should be no more than 1,500 words and must be accompanied by an entry form.

Prizes offered include a $100 gift certificate to Berkeley Mall for first place, with a $50 gift certificate awarded to second place and a $25 gift certificate for third place. The winning essay will also be published on the Health Department's Web site and in the News-Argus.

Entry forms containing contest guidelines are available at area high schools, online at www.wayneteens.com or by calling 731-1290 or 731-1236. Forms can also be picked up at the News-Argus. Deadline for entries is April 15 at 5 p.m. Essays must be mailed to the attention of Abstinence Essay Contest, Wayne County Health Department, Health Education Division, 301 N. Herman Street, Box CC, Goldsboro, NC 27530.