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If You Can't Do It, Someone Else Will

September 15, 1993|NEWSDAY

Should parents discuss smoking, drug and alcohol use, contraception, pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases with their teen-agers?

Yes, said 400 parents in a study conducted by North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, N.Y. But actually having that discussion can be one of the hardest tasks a parent faces.

"These are sensitive issues," says Dr. Martin Fisher, the hospital's chief of adolescent medicine. "Some people find sex the hardest topic to talk about at all, especially when you're addressing your own children."

If you can't talk to your child about drugs, alcohol or sex without either yelling or turning red in the face, there are resources to turn to.

According to Fisher, about 1,000 of the nation's 50,000 pediatricians now specialize in adolescent medicine. Besides doing checkups and treating illnesses, these doctors are trained to work with teen-agers and discuss substance abuse and sexual activity.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (141 NW Point Blvd., P.O. Box 927, Elk Grove Village, Ill. 60009-0927) will refer you to specialists in your area if you send a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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