“Condoms in High Schools”
Condoms should be handed out to high school students. There are situations in which many people have different opinions, however it is my belief that condom distribution in high schools allows children to open up and ask questions regarding sex, it accounts for a tremendous decrease in teen pregnancies, abortions and diseases, as well as a decrease in the amount of money spent on supporting unwanted teen pregnancies and abortions. I remember my sexual behavior as a teen. In my parents eyes it was “she is abstinent”, however my stance was very different. I, like many other adolescents had to deal only with the option of abstinence. There was no carrying condoms ‘just in case’, because that was never a situation that young respectable girls were to put themselves in. And so the ‘secret’ (trying to obtain your own contraceptive materials) begins.
Trying to exercise some sort of responsibility in getting the condoms as a teen when your parents don’t know that you are sexually active only complicates the already difficult situation much more. And most times, the teen just goes without it. Parents that assume, or just hope that their children aren’t being pelted with the uncomfortable, pressuring issue of teen sex in this day and age are a large part of the problem. First, teenagers need to be able to talk to their parents and other adults about sexual activity, theirs or otherwise. Allowing condoms to be distributed in schools fosters a comfortable environment where children feel comfortable asking questions about sex. In effect this highlights the sexual arena with responsibility and I think it is a good idea.
The condoms might or might not be used but at least the students will be surrounded with opportunities for responsibility and will not have the excuse of not having access to condoms. Parents, I feel are the first line of defense in the fight against irresponsible sexual behavior. If this and other sexual education is not being done from home by the parents then those teens are being shortchanged and left in the wild
about their sexual activity. Animals in the wild just have sex when the time and opportunity arise, humans should be taught sexually responsible behavior by their parents. Equally important is the issue of prevention, and although condoms’ being passed out in schools is a controversial issue, one cannot argue the fact that when a teenager uses one it can prevent pregnancies, abortions and diseases. According to the Minnesota Organization on Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Parenting (MOAPPP), condoms are 90% effective, so if the goal is to increase the use of contraceptives among sexually active teens, then condoms should not be hidden behind counters of local stores. Instead, they should be in areas that are heavily populated by teens, like in schools.
Some high schools give out condoms and studies have shown that such programs are successful. The MOAPPP states that 66% of females and 68% of males are having sexual intercourse by the age of 18. Also, in a study conducted by the Allen Guttmacher Institute in April 1999, researchers found that 106 out of every 1000 females between the ages of 15- 19 were pregnant, had a miscarriage, or an abortion within the previous year. Studies show that condom availability programs encourage sexually active teens to use condoms more often and more consistently than that of their sexually active peers who are without condom availability programs (Guttmacher, 2010). “When used consistently and correctly, latex condoms are highly effective in preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS and are also effective in preventing pregnancy and several sexually transmitted infections”.—CDC. Male Latex Condoms and Sexually Transmitted Diseases. Atlanta, GA: CDC, 2002. Now if the CDC says that it helps and we know that our children are sexually active, then why not put them in the schools? Again there are those that say that giving condoms out promotes sexual activity, so in an effort to promote abstinence, they would prefer to not hand them out, rather than risking promotion of sex.
Of course when dealing with the uncertainties of teenagers and their sexual behavior, one would not want to rely on averages, assumptions and ‘the obvious conclusion’ it is only natural to consider ‘the safe bet’. That being that teenagers are having sex, and at a tremendous rate, and parents and officials need to arm them with the necessary tools to protect themselves in their sexual lives. Just as soldiers when reporting to war are furnished with the necessary weaponry and defense materials in order to protect themselves in war, todays’ youth is faced with many battles in the form of peer pressure involving sex, and need to be properly equipped to handle those precarious situations. Finally, there is the matter of the gross amount of money spent on unwanted teen pregnancies and abortions. Unfortunately, the United States has the highest rates of teenage pregnancy and teen births in the western industrialized world. Teen pregnancy costs the United States at least $7 billion annually, and every year around 750,000 teenagers will get pregnant. Lets’ delve just a little farther into the whole teen pregnancy issue. We say the phrase so quickly, and in doing so we minimize the severity of it, and all that it entails.
It of course begins with prenatal medication, classes, and time away from being a child and student. How many fees and emotional trauma does that inflict on a teenager? Don’t forget the actual birth, and the issue of health insurance, which either falls on the parent or the state (I, and other taxpayers). Those hospital fees alone are astronomical. Now, the babies here, and needs food, shelter, and, well everything; All of these things unable to be given solely by the teenage parent. They must rely, again on their parent or guardian, or the government for some, and in many cases, several different types of aid. All of this could have potentially been avoided by that simple, but effective act of giving a kid a condom. And that short paragraph doesn’t even begin to encompass the scope of financial problems resulting from teen pregnancy. It is found that more than 2/3 of all teenagers who have a baby will not graduate from high school. This figure is sickening because the importance of education is imperative, and if we truly educate are teens, then we could prevent these sorts of atrocities. Billions of dollars are spent taking care of teenage mothers and their children and they are more likely to be in the poverty bracket.
This leads me into an example of the gross amount of money spent on teenage pregnancies and abortions. It is helpful to look at California’s experience with a state-funded contraception and family planning initiative for women with incomes between 100% and 200% of the poverty level: Four years after implementing the program, California saved an estimated $500 million in public health care spending, net of what they spent on the program itself. In fact, for every dollar invested in the program, the state of California saved an estimated $5.33, over a period of five years. Not many other public spending plans can boast such a positive return on investment (Klatsky, 2009). Conversely, there are those who aggressively oppose the idea of condoms in schools. To those people I say, “if you want to gamble, at least use your own money”. I say that to point out the fact that, as previously stated, ‘billions of dollars are spent annually on teenage pregnancies’. Part of ‘those billions’ are my tax dollars, and I would much rather them be spent on preventative care, rather than the astronomical fees of another human being brought into the world by an irresponsible parent. Billions of dollars are spent taking care of teenage mothers and their children while only millions are needed to provide good prevention programs. Some people may say “practice what you preach,” meaning that most schools are required to teach sex education. In sex education you are taught to practice safe sex.
So, if you are taught this, then why not have access to the tools needed to practice safe sex in the places it is being taught most? Many of those that oppose condoms in schools argue the fact that widespread condom distribution will establish sexual activity as the norm among young teens, creating peer pressure to participate in sex. But, providing access to birth control could also establish condom use as the norm, not something that women have to continually negotiate, often times, from a position of weakness. Another view of those opposed to this idea is the issue of condoms actually encouraging the practice of sexual activity earlier in life. But a study published a few years ago, done by The American Journal of Public Health, showed that kids in schools that distributed condoms were less likely to have sexual intercourse than kids at schools that don’t distribute condoms.
The study also suggests that kids in high schools with condom programs were more likely to use condoms. Young people in other high schools were more likely to use other kinds of birth control. But only latex and female condoms reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections. The fact is that kids in schools that distribute condoms are less likely to have sexual intercourse and are less likely to get a sexually transmitted infection. All in all there are several stances you could take on this issue, but the most important thing to consider when choosing one is; what if it were me, or my child? There is one fact that rings true through every point made in this essay. From the idea that it allows children to open up and ask questions regarding sex, to its accounting for a tremendous decrease in teen pregnancies, abortions and diseases, and of course it’s showing a decrease in the amount of money spent on supporting unwanted teen pregnancies and abortions.
The correlating piece is the idea that if the teen uses the condom, it cannot be bad. It cannot be bad for the teen if they were already going to have sex anyway. It cannot be bad for the society that deals with a smaller number of teen pregnancies and diseases, and it cannot be bad for the government that as a result of condom usage is now able to fund other needed programs and initiatives. We all want the best for our youth and we have to offer some sort of preventative care on the already difficult journey called, adolescence.