The on-going national debate about condoms in public schools just got a lot more interesting.
The Provincetown, Mass. school district announced this week that condoms would be available to any and all who wanted them – in the entire district. This includes the likes of first and second-graders.
Now, I’m all for safe sex education. Condoms should be mandatory in high schools. We should explain to children how to use protection and that condoms are necessary for maintaining a safe and healthy lifestyle.
But what kind of message does this program send to the younger kids? Shouldn’t condoms come into schools after some years of sex education? Will this encourage experimentation in an age group that is absolutely not mature enough yet to deal with the emotional and mental strains of sex?
Apparently, that doesn’t matter.
“We know that sexual experimentation is not limited to an age, so how does one put an age on it?” said Superintendent Beth Singer, who wrote the policy unanimously passed two weeks ago by the Cape Cod town’s School Committee, as quoted in the Boston Globe.
So, while the eight-year-olds likely won’t ask for any prophylactics, upper middle-schoolers might. The idea of free condoms, without classes explaining how to use them, being available to curious and mid-pubescent tweens kinda freaks me out, despite promises of counseling by school nurses for those children who request condoms.
And, hey! What about the parents? I mean, if I, at 23-years-old and childless, am uncomfortable with this, I can understand why the Momosphere has gone crazy.
“My little guy just finished the first grade and he can barely aim his penis to pee without making a mess, much less do anything else with it… I can’t imagine our school nurse distributing condoms. That is just too shocking to even think about. She’s too busy taking care of kids throwing up and knocking teeth out on the playground,” says Momania.
“I am sickened at the thought of an elementary school passing out condoms to children. Babies…If Charlotte came home with a condom, I would be putting her in private girls education in 2.3 seconds, right after storming up to the school board with a piece of my bloggy mind,” says MomDot.
But, there is an argument to be made that getting to kids early isn’t necessarily a negative.
“If we are okay with teaching first graders to say no to drugs, why not teach them about safe sex?” said TNGG writer Jen Schmidt. “Early and often is the key!”
And she has a point.
It’s great that schools are promoting safe sex over unrealistic jibber-jabber like abstinence-only education. And for those children who might make use of programs like these, it may just be a life-saver.
A recent CDC survey found that in 2009, 34% of currently sexually active high school students did not use a condom during their last sexual intercourse and that pregnancy rates of 15-19-year-olds has risen for the first time since the 1990’s.
We need to focus our energy on bringing those statistics down again, and, hey, if passing out condoms for anyone who asks for one is the way to do it, then I guess I’m all for that.