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Couric tackles attitudes about sex in news special



Published: Wed, January 26, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The anchor doesn't get too personal with the teens.

NEW YORK (AP) -- Katie Couric isn't afraid to talk about the birds and the bees.

The "Today" show co-host is tackling issues such as "friends with benefits," abstinence and oral sex in a prime-time NBC News special, "The 411: Teens & amp; Sex," airing at 10 tonight.

The special is based on findings from a national survey of teens commissioned by NBC News and People magazine and an open forum Couric conducted with 11 girls and nine boys, ages 13 to 16, in Key Biscayne, Fla.

"I was personally shocked how casually young people treat oral sex and how it's considered much less intimate than intercourse," Couric told The Associated Press Tuesday.

Couric became passionate about the subject after hearing "horror stories" of teens having sex at early ages and wanted teens, parents and experts to weigh in. Besides attitudes toward oral sex, Couric was surprised at the teens' openness.

"I think that society is so sexualized from the time these kids are small, they're quite comfortable," Couric said. "These kids were carefully screened. They were all extremely articulate, and they talked more in generalities. "

Her own spin

As the mother of two girls, ages 9 and 13, Couric has her own theory on discussing sex with her teenage daughter. Couric said sex "needs to be a constant discussion. It's not one discussion about the birds and the bees and then, 'Phew, that's it."'

After all the sex talk -- Couric learned "friends with benefits" refers to sex with friends without commitment -- she's ready to investigate another sensitive subject: drugs. The 48-year-old told the AP she'd like to give a similar prime-time treatment to the issue.

"I'd love to do something on kids and prescription drugs like Ritalin and antidepressants," said Couric. "As a society, we go to pills to fix things. It's a fascinating subject."

Couric, who's been mentioned as a possible replacement for Dan Rather on the "CBS Evening News," said the network-jumping speculation is "pretty darn boring."

"I love NBC. They've been so great to me," Couric told the AP. "I'm focusing on that."




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