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Experts Discuss Vampire Influence on Teen Decisions

April 15, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Vampires have long been a hit in teen pop culture, with the "Twilight" book series by Stephanie Meyer being the latest example of that interest. The expected release next month of the movie version of her book, "Eclipse," 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 for Planned Parenthood, helps lead discussions on the topic. She points to stalking behavior in the first book as an example of topics that can stimulate a conversation.

"While that might 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 about that?"

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.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV