City Offers Free Condoms for Kids? Why Not?

Jeanne Sager

condomWell, the Philadelphia Health Department has gone and done it. They're making condoms available to teens and tweens who want them. So how are parents responding? With joy that their kids are actually thinking to wrap it up before they turn Mom into Grandma? Oh, don't be silly.

Of course Philadelphians are freaking. Because everyone knows that suddenly making condoms available to kids who ask for them is just like saying "go forth and get freak nasty!" Right? Well, actually, not at all.

Studies have shown that access to condoms does not actually increase the rate of teens having sex. What it does do is ensure that more of the kids engaging in sexual activities are safe from STDs and pregnancy because more of them actually USE a condom.

The Take Control Philly program is open to kids from 11 to 19, and that lower number is worrying parents and the media who are again trotting out the myth that condom access = promotion of sex. They're just 11! True, but what's scarier? An 11-year-old having sex or an 11-year-old having unprotected sex? That's what I thought.

An 11-year-old, in a perfect world, would not be sexually active. But if they are, I'd prefer to think it's with protection, and they have some education about the consequences of their decision. And that's makes this particular program in Philly so necessary.

It's set up focuses on what kids really need if they're engaging in sexual activity. Condoms aren't being handed out willy nilly to kids on the street corner like candy. Kids have to actually go online to a website for the Take Control Philly program and request the prophylactics be mailed to them. That means these are all kids who were -- wait for it -- going to have sex anyway! And they're actually doing the smart thing. They're trying to be safe about it. 

The site includes a host of other important things for sexually active kids -- from information about STDs to videos on how to actually use a condom (including female condoms!). Of course, that's got people up in arms too. As Daily News columnist Ronnie Polaneczky warns parents: "Be warned: The site contains very straightforward info, including explicit animations illustrating the proper way to don or insert a condom."

Can you imagine? Telling kids HOW to use a condom? So that they don't just "think" they're protected, but KNOW they're protected? Scandalous, I know, but I'm going to come out and say it. I'd rather have a kid wrapping it up than ending up with herpes and a new baby.

What about you?


Image via celebdu/Flickr

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