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“The Lost Children of Rockdale County” was an award-winning documentary by Frontline, which explored how a 1996 syphilis outbreak affected more than 200 teens in Rockdale, Georgia. The investigation into the outbreak revealed what parents were not aware of in the lives of their kids: group sex, binge drinking and drugs. Some of the kids involved were as young as 12 years old. While the piece is shocking, and deeply upset the Rockdale County community after it aired, it is only a portion of a deeper problem across the nation and the world when it comes to teen confusion, alienation and often very little parental supervision.

The report included frank conversations with teens, parents, community leaders and educators as well as medical professionals. After interviewing teens, many revealed their yearning for attention and acceptance, and while seeking this out fell into group sex parties before and after school, and all-night orgies while parents were out of town. Those involved in the sex parties totaled to around 50 people, but numerous other girls claimed to have had sex with more than 75 boys before the age of 16. One girl, while at a party with 30 or 40 other teens, declared she would have sex with all of the boys there, and did so. Most of the children involved said they felt awful about being a part of any of it- they only wanted to be popular and accepted.

Many of the children involved were from affluent families, and many had a severe lack of family closeness and supervision throughout their lives. Parents complained that they had to work too much and were not able to be there for their children, and that they had little control over their kids who did things behind their backs. After learning the information, many parents were concerned, but some refused to believe it. One woman swore her daughter was a virgin, though a counselor had to inform her that her daughter was pregnant.

I work in a neighboring county of Rockdale, and it was also in this county where they had a school shooting one month after the Columbine tragedy. While it may appear that this particular county is ‘bad,’ with all of their unfortunate coverage, it’s actually just a small part of the larger picture, involving teenagers in all counties across the nation.

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