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It has always been hard for parents to talk to their teen-agers about sex. But times have changed, and these little talks should come at a much younger age. Today's children are bombarded by sexual messages and innuendo through television, movies and music.

But a program offered by the University of Missouri Extension Office and the Cape Girardeau County Public Health Center offers parents a helping hand. Peer educators are likely to have more success in relaying the message of sexual abstinence to teen-agers.

The program is in its second year and is getting high marks from the schools and students. It is sensible approach that can positively impact the much-too-high teen-age pregnancy rate.

About 36 students from Central High School, Oak Ridge High School and Notre Dame High Schools have been trained to teach seventh and eighth graders. These teen leaders rely on videos, question-and-answer questions and role playing to get their message across.

The students tend to open up to the peer leaders and trust their advice. These teens can better sell abstinence of sex, alcohol and drugs because they understand the realities of peer pressure.

These young leaders deserve commendation for helping other teen-agers resist early sexual involvement.

It is hard to battle society's woes at the federal and state levels with sweeping, one-size-fits-all mandates. But with programs like this, local communities can chip away at such formidable problems as teen-age pregnancy and welfare mothers.