(Memphis) 16-year-old Paige Smith and her dad James are close friends.
“I can talk to him about school, sex, it doesn’t matter,” said Smith.
For the eleventh grader it’s important to know she can talk to her dad about anything, especially scary statistics about sex and Memphis teens.
“It’s hurtful that one out of four children has HIV or a [sexually] transmitted disease, it hurts my heart to know that,” Smith told us.
Paige was one of about 100 teens who took part in a forum sponsored by the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Saturday.
Teens got a chance to ask questions, get answers and get tested for HIV, Syphilis, Gonorrhea and Chlamydia.
It’s estimated one out of four young people in Memphis will contract one of those diseases before their 25th birthday.
“It’s scary. It’s absolutely scary,” said James Smith. “They need to know this is real. There is only so much that Momma and Daddy can do.”
Pam Houston with UTHSC says the best way parents can protect their kids is to not shield from the truth and keep the conversation going about consequences and prevention.
“So many may think, if I have a child, that’s ok. My friends handled it, so I can. They aren’t realizing, ‘I could get a disease and die,’” said Houston.
It’s a message Paige says she’ll gladly share with her friends and classmates.
“I think we shouldn’t have sex in the first place, but if we do we need to be prepared and cautious,” said Paige.
Organizers are planning to hold another event around prom season.