PRETEEN, TEEN ACTORS DRAMATIZE DANGERS OF YOUNG SEX, PREGNANCY.
Portola Middle School student Rebecca Lee wants to scare her peers - so badly that they will think twice before engaging in sex and having babies before they're old enough even to drive cars legally.
That's why the sixth-grader is taking to the stage on campus this week in a student production aimed at discouraging teen pregnancy.
``It's harder than most teens ever think,'' said Rebecca, 12, who plays a teen mother in the production. ``Your life can be ruined. Most (pregnant) teens never get through high school. Most never get above the poverty line.''
Sponsored by the Perinatal Advisory Council of Los Angeles Communities, the 45-minute production follows the separate lives of two high school students, Jack and Jill, who reveal the consequences of teen sex: unwanted pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases. Students in an ensemble take turns playing the lead roles in a series of skits.
After the run at school this week, the students will perform their play June 12 at a symposium for doctors during the Perinatal Advisory Council's annual conference, to be held in Ventura.
``They're completely amazing,'' said Dena Chwan, the advisory council's program coordinator. ``They put together this entire skit. It's going to be incredible. It's going to be be very powerful and very moving.''
The students wrote the play with the help of drama teacher Paul Richardson, who culled real-life experiences of teen parents from reports in newspapers, magazines and educational videotapes. The play contains vital information for middle school students entering puberty, Richardson said.
``They need it right now,'' Richardson said. ``The age of pregnant teens is going down, and (middle school students) are getting hit with the same images from the media as high school students. It's a good time to be looking at the other side.''
The students said they learned some startling facts about teen parenting. Although teen mothers primarily bear the burden of caring for babies, the absent or unmarried teen fathers risk losing their paternity rights, Rebecca said.
``It's hard for the man,'' she said. ``Some bad things can happen to fathers.''
Ryan Silver, 13, said he learned it's important to be in a loving relationship before having sex. ``That could be the biggest mistake of your life,'' he said about casual sex and teen fatherhood.