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IA Experts Discuss Vampire Influence on Teen Decisions

April 5, 2010

DES MOINES, Iowa - Vampires have long been a hit in teen pop culture, with the "Twilight" series as the latest example. The expected release of the movie version of the book "Eclipse" in the series next month is being viewed as an opportunity to talk with teens about gender roles, abstinence until marriage and equality in relationships.

Jennifer Morton, a bilingual outreach coordinator with Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, will help lead discussions at a workshop this week. She points to stalking behavior in the first book as an example of what can be discussed.

"While that behavior umight seem very sweet, is that really we want an ideal partner to do? What are the healthy things about that, and what are the unhealthy things?"

She also sees the series as an opportunity to explore gender roles, because the males in the series are so much stronger than the females.

"We really want to make sure that we're discussing with them how to analyze those messages. When you look at a partner, what is power, what is control? And how do we make healthy decisions in light of those things?"

Morton says there's no judgment on the story plots in the discussion - the events and behaviors are just starting points to talk about perceptions and expectations for teens. In fact, she says, the series is a great way to connect with teens in discussing personal and social issues.

The workshop is 2 p.m. Wednesdsay, April 7, at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, 1171 7th St., Des Moines.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - IA