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Prom night

My daughters, like most teens, have a finely tuned ear for it.

Just when I'm warming up, approaching a terrific anecdote, I hit the wall. Bam!

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"Dad, you're lecturing me."

"Oh. Really? Sorry. I was just trying to share with you..."

Whatever the message - drugs, sex, values -it's hard to get past that adolescent early warning system.

One way to slip by: teens talking to teens.

Florida's antitobacco ad campaign, for example, is fueled by teenagers. In Detroit, sex on prom night is being dissed by youths.

When local motels advertised after-prom discounts for high school students, some Detroit students countered with their own ads. Sixty-second radio spots. A television commercial for a cable music channel. And posters for city buses and school hallways.

A photo of a forlorn pregnant girl is titled: "One night can change your life."

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Another message: "The prom can be the bomb without you becoming a teen dad and mom. Use your brain, abstain."

The program, known as Back to BASICS (Building Abstinence programs Successfully Into Community Structures) is funded with federal money. The 1996 overhaul of the US welfare system set aside $250 million over five years to promote sexual abstinence until marriage. More than 300 Detroit youths participated this past year.

Cool. Positive peer pressure. A great concept.

It won't - and shouldn't - stop parents from sharing our "boring" life lessons. But it might help get the message past the lecture-detector radar.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at

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